I am especially qualified to address our blog’s New Year’s topic of what keeps a writer going-going-going.
It’s no coincidence my picture book character Lowell Piggott and I shared Susan Lucci’s heart.
Despite May’s Ozark pourdowns, mudslides and twisters (in Lowell’s case) and writer detours, roadblocks, dead-ends and collisions (in my case), Lowell and I knew: folks would make it to our Party.
“But how?” you ask. “How did you know?!”
Well, lucky me. I’m a December baby. My sign is Sagittarius. I was born Hopeful.
• I send myself encouraging greetings, via snail mail or email.
Currently queue-ed on my desktop is a Huntington Library-purchased postcard. It pictures a billboard boasting Charles Bukowksi’s words – “what matters most is how well you walk through the fire.”
• Well-worn copies (both paperback and hardback) of William Steig’s Brave Irene rest on my windowsill, page-pinched to cheer me on.
• John Phillip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever lies atop my CD stack, ever-ready to re-constitute and fortify.
(I wrote recently how The March King created this most-optimistic-piece of music after contemplating suicide on a return trip from a failed European concert tour. I study Famous (Seeming) Failures the way some folks eat Chicago's World Famous Garrett’s Popcorn – i.e. addictively.)
• A small but empty 4 x 6 crystal picture frame adorns my bookshelf, inviting all sorts of creatively-visualized Authorial Kodak Moments. (Think The Oprah Show, a starred Booklist review, a name-your-award speech/medal, a smiling surprised recipient of a book’s dedication.)
• My “Journal” continues to prove a Dumping Ground for negative thoughts, storing each and every disappointment, doubt, rejection and fear I come to know on a sometimes-daily basis. Giving words to my heart’s pain eases its intensity. Before too long I’m moving forward, significantly lighter and unencumbered. An added bonus? When relevant or necessary, I can transfer angst-filled feelings to my waiting characters. Who knew venting could improve characterization?
In a year.
Or a decade even! (19 years = almost 2)
I take in all I’ve accomplished, all I’ve experienced – intentionally, but also unexpectedly.
Then I embrace and celebrate all I've become.
You can do the same.
Perhaps you wrote and submitted not 1 but 3 picture books,
- attended a local class (even though you remained nametag-less),
- (finally!) joined a Writer’s Group,
- volunteered for your local SCBWI Chapter,
- traveled to a weekend far-from-home conference,
- applied for a grant,
- entered a contest,
- queried an agent (or ten),
- explored an MFA program
- corresponded with Your Favorite Living Author,
- tried a new genre,
- experimented with a new format,
- researched a picture book subject,
- retreated to write,
- created your website,
- even tweeted,
- uploaded your trailer to YouTube,
- joined a Listserv,
- proposed a conference program,
- mass-marketed your brochure,
Look at where you’ve been, the people you’ve met and what you’ve already done in one given time period.
Jump up and down.
Next congratulate yourself!
Then turn yourself around ’til you’re facing forward.
Take a deep breath.
Take a second, just in case.
Now continue on your Writer’s Journey, upright and satisfied.
Go! Go! Go!
I’m cheering you on.