I like lists. I like making them, looking at them, and checking them off. Here's a list of ten (writing related) things that happened to me this year that mattered:
10: I received over one dozen partial and/or full requests from agents since May (I am still waiting to hear back from 5 for one manuscript and 1 for another manuscript)
9: I had my blogs read by real authors like Ellen Potter and Tanya Lloyd Kyi.
8: I sat in a room with Diana Gabaldon, Michael Slade, and Jack Whyte for an entire evening. I didn't say much but I nodded like a fool and didn't hide in the bathroom.
7: I connected with an amazing group of fellow writers via Twitter, such as Brenda Drake, Jessa Russo, Rachel Pudelek, Roselle Kaes, Lauren Spieller and so many more I'm probably forgetting but not because they aren't awesome.
6: Rainbow Rowell and Jill Shalvis tweeted me and The Bloggess followed me. All three events made me inexplicably happy.
5: I read Elenor and Park. It matters. It made me want to be better.
4: I met this truly awesome agent that I won't name. She might not be my agent, but she became my friend, which is pretty cool all by itself. Turns out agents are real people.
3: I found critique partners and new friends, Tara and Kelli, that will go beyond writing and be part of what makes 2014 special.
2: My story, A Not So Lonely Christmas, was published in Foreward Lit's anthology, Holiday Spice
1: I self published Forever Christmas via Amazon
Christmas is only ten days away. As the Grinch would say, "it's practically here." It's been seven days since I self-published Forever Christmas and I wanted to say thank you to a number of people (it seemed like a good time to show some appreciation) I don't really need to thank my husband and kids because they don't read the blog and also because I do that every day. It sounds something like "Thank you for putting up with me."
I'll thank my very best friend in the universe and beyond, Brenda, because she does always read the blog. And while she might point out a missing comma or spelling error, she is endlessly supportive. Not just of this: of everything. Always.
I have been fortunate to meet a number of people that have picked me back up where my writing is concerned and perhaps even when it has nothing at all to do with my writing. Those people include Tara Creel, Ruby Knight, Michelle Johnson, Lauren Spieller, Caitlin Rantala, Rachel Pudlek, Katie Bailey, Carolyn Hart, Brandon Jay Mclaren, Brent Mclaren, Brenda Drake, Jessa Russo, Mandy Schoen, Roselle Kaes...there's more. But these are some of the people that have poured over my work for me, retweeted me, supported me, believed in me, and made me feel like maybe, just maybe, I might get somewhere with my words. And if I don't? Well, I'm still pretty lucky. So thank you. And Merry Christmas.
Tuesday is release day. Unless I mess it up somehow, which is entirely possible. This morning and last night I was instant messaging with my critique partners about writing, confidence, and audience. Basically, we decided that it shouldn't matter what others think if you've written a book you can be proud of, that told the story you wanted to, and that you're happy with. I feel that way about Forever Christmas and the people that I care about, that matter, really love the book. So, why does the thought of pressing "Save & Publish" make my stomach feel like I 've eaten too many advent chocolates? As one critique partner said, WE'VE WRITTEN BOOKS! Not everyone can say that. They can say they want to, they're going to, and they have the best idea ever but how many people sit down and actually write 40,000-80,000 words that mesh together to create a story? As it turns out, A LOT! Maybe not a lot in my circle of friends, but when you join the online writing community via social media, you realize how many books are being written, how many people are 'authors'.
So what makes an author? Surprisingly, there's nothing in the definition of the word author that says 'one who is published'. I think that when you're surrounding yourself with writers, agents and contests, you lose sight of what matters. It's not just about being published. It's not just about the praise of random strangers. It's about starting something AND finishing it. It's about feeling good that you've created something, whether one person or a million read it. The other day my daughter said something to me and I responded with a partial quote (cause our house is like that: we spout quotes and break into song at any given moment). She was worrying about someone recognizing her for something. The quote I shared with her is below and I meant it when I said it. It's not about what you're recognized for, but that feels at odds with doing something that you know begs recognition. I guess that's why we told our critique partner this morning that it has to be for ourselves. We have to make decisions based on what we want for ourselves and not for how others will see us. We need to put our best selves out there if we're going to do it, but in the end, it's not about the applause. So while I hope that many people will enjoy Forever Christmas, I need to remember, even if only my closest friends read it, that it wasn't about sales or praise. It's about sharing something that I'm proud of; something that reminds me, and maybe you, of the point of this season and this life: having people in your life that love and support you no matter what. And if all else fails, I'll just try to remember that: I WROTE A BOOK!