Tuesday, March 8, 2011

SMALL VICTORIES-WRITERS CAN'T LIVE ON CHEESE SANDWICHES ALONE

Lately I've been discussing, with writer friends in various stages of the game, the importance of small victories. It's completing the 20,000th word, when before you've only ever written 8,000 before you abandoned yet another Great American Novel. It's having a short story accepted by a literary journal that's turned you down like doing so was its sole purpose (Clearly the journal was invented and funded by some long-forgotten nemesis, or perhaps an alien species studying humans and their reactions to rejection. The bastards). It's being told your piece, your CreationBabyJoyandHeartbreakAllRolledIntoOne made it through the first reader round to the second, which is only one level from the editor, who has only to type "yes, please" and you're in.

Small victories keep writers alive. I know, I know. Margaret Atwood said it's cheese sandwiches. Those help. But, before a writer gets hungry for a cheese sandwich, she has to want to keep living. And it's a series of fortuitous boosts that make a writer want to keep living (As a writer, that is. Most people want to live for other, more substantial reasons, like 5-bedroom houses with pools, or a designer handbag in every color, or to see their kids grow up, etc.).

If things aren't going well, if all you're seeing is a smattering of rejections (when you get responses at all) it's okay to siphon from the wins of others. Or, hell, dream big. Take heart from a friend reeling in an agent, or a stranger inking a SuperMegaOhMyGodFinnishFilmRights(!) Deal.

Writing is personal, and lonely, and sometimes heartbreaking. Savor each win, whether it's yours alone or a smeared-mascara in public kinda thing. If you don't believe that writers live on small victories alone, check out Chuck Wendig laying down the hard science* over at his obscenely brilliant blog Terrible Minds.

*The science may be slightly pendulous, but that doesn't mean it's not good.

9 comments:

  1. I LOVE this post. I really believing in claiming happiness wherever and whenever you can. NO victory is too small to Snoopy dance like no one's watching :D

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  2. Totally agree. This applies to all our small victories too, not just our writing ones. And yes, even if things are going badly, taking joy in others' successes can put a smile on your face :)

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  3. Thank you! I needed this right now. :D

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  4. I really like this post. We often forget that becoming successful in any field takes a lot of time and effort. Your post just reminded me of this simple matter. Thanks again for givnig this simple message in such a beautiful way.

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  5. Love this post, Hillary. Writing a novel is a long and hard task. Jumping from one small victory to another makes it easier. It's taking it all in small bites, and keeping our sanity intact.

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  6. Thank you all for stopping by. I love to be surprised by the small delights in writing, and hope that you all get to experience them (small and large).

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  7. As Zig Ziglar has said about goal-setting: "Go as far as you can see. When you get there, you'll always be able to see further."

    Small victories FTW.

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  8. I love moving forward enough that the very shape of the horizon changes. Thanks, Ace. :)

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  9. I love this post - and so true! The big victories are rare, so why not cherish the small ones?

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