The Bright Side of Losing

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No one ever said writing would be easy.  It’s a blood sport and you have to be willing to take a number of brutal blows to your confidence.  First, there’s the inner critic who always has a nasty word on the tip of her tongue.  Then, there’s a reader who doesn’t get it.  And don’t forget the agent who isn’t interested or the editor who thinks your short story isn’t good enough.  The list goes on and on.

At the moment, my inner critic is basking in the fact that I’ve lost yet another writing contest.  She’s quick to point out that this is the fourth one where I haven’t impressed anyone.  It feels a lot like sipping lemonade with a fat lip.   A year ago, a blow like this would have sent me slouching in a corner for a month.  Not now.  If anything, I’m determined to come back swinging.  Four is a little number and I’ve come to look at it like a rite of passage. Every writer with a published book has been rejected more than once and it just so happens to be my turn to pay those dues.

Instead of focusing on the loss, I’m going to focus on my victories over the last few months.  My dream of becoming a writer is slowly coming true one little step at a time.  The victories are small, but they all lead towards the larger goal of finding a publisher.

1. In April, I launched a blog that people actually read.  After much trepidation, I started this blog as a way to motivate my muse.  It’s been an amazing experience and I couldn’t be more grateful for each person who stops by to read my work.

2. In June, I finished the final draft of my novel.  After three years of toil, my first novel can be classified as edited and revised.  To make the journey even more fulfilling, I found the courage to share my work with four beta readers.  The response was overwhelmingly positive, which makes the next step of querying agents so much easier to take.

3. On August 10, 2011 The Daily Post chose to feature Muse Juice.  This was the first time something I’ve written showed up on a site other than my own.  Very exciting, indeed.

4. On August 11, 2011, I got the shock of my life when The Best Souvenirs Are Free was Freshly Pressed.  For a writer who has never been published, this was absolutely amazing.  I’m still giddy.

5. On Thanksgiving Day my letter about a random act of kindness was published in The Arizona Republic.  For the first time, I saw my pen name in print.  My muse and I celebrated with a happy dance.  This victory means the world to me as its the first time an editor chose to publish my work.

The process has only just begun and I can’t wait to see what happens next.  Yes, the rejections are plentiful and always forthcoming, but the victories (no matter how small) outweigh every “no” I receive.

c.b. 2011

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41 thoughts on “The Bright Side of Losing

  1. Leila

    You’re right, writing is a blood sport. Sometimes we bleed, and other times we go to war. You’ve done great things this year. Slap your inner critic silly and tell it to back off. The fact that you put your self out there is an amazing feat. You are ahead of the curve.

    Here’s to the New Year and Publishing Domination! :)

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    • Thanks for the “inner critic slapping” words! She’s been pretty quiet since I wrote out my list, but I’ll be ready for when she comes back.

      May we both clink our glasses to Publishing Domination! :-)

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  2. You’ve done good work here…..the inner critic should be slinking back to it’s corner now that you’ve given yourself honest feedback. You’ve accomplished much this year on your writer’s path. The rejections are but stepping stones in the river you are crossing. Keep writing!!!

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  3. What a great list! Those are major accomplishments and I’m celebrating and happy dancing with you!! It’s a great idea to write an encouraging list like that, or read over it when you encounter an obstacle, because it proves that your work is coming back in rewards.
    ” My dream of becoming a writer is slowly coming true one little step at a time. ” — I’d say those are HUGE steps :)
    How exciting!! And keep up the great work!

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  4. That’s a fantastic list of accomplishments!! Well done! You’re absolutely right, sometimes we just have to remind ourselves of all the good things we’ve done. Mini (and temporary) failures are to be expected along the path into the world of writing.

    Just remember, you’re already a writer. You’re passionate about it, work hard at it, try to promote your work, keep putting it out there….that means you’re a writer. Once you’ve committed yourself to your work and choose to put your all in it, you’ve become a writer. Maybe not a published author just yet, but you are a writer, and don’t forget it!!! =)

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    • What a great reminder . . . Yes, I am a writer! Published or not, I love spinning stories, stringing words together, and all the rest that goes with the art of writing. :-)

      Thanks for the encouraging words! :-)

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  5. Sounds to me like you aren’t losing in the slightest. Like you said rejections are are a part of starting out and everyone gets them- what matters is how you react to them. Forget doubt; if writing had a map doubt would be labeled ‘here be dragons.’ I think you’ll be out of the gates this new year – and it’s going to be a good year for you :) way to stay positive!!

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    • Thank you for such encouraging thoughts! :-) You are so right that our reactions to rejection is what truly counts. Give the choice to give up or fight, I’ll pick up a pen and fight every time. :-)

      May we both keep trying and meet with success in 2012!

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  6. Just keep on trucking. It’s all part of the writer’s journey. Sorta like Disneyland, fun, scary, surprising and helps us stay child-like by entering other worlds with our imaginations!

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  7. Its good to stand back and see what we have achieved over the year. Well done. I have yet to look back and examine my work this year, so this post is a good nudge for me in the right direction, thanks.

    Jim

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    • It’s worth taking a look back not only to reflect on past successes, but to set goals. It’s so easy to get complacent or give up when successes (no matter how small) are forgotten. Have fun making your list! :-)

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  8. I am all-too familiar with loss this year. Loss and then dusting myself off to start all over again. Seems certifiable, but I figure each time, we get closer to the brass ring.

    You had many great achievements this year, and I look forward to sharing more in 2012!

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  9. Could you see yourself not writing? No, I didn’t think so. Enjoy your success and continue on your journey. The ball is rolling and you are building up momentum. Congratulations and thanks for connecting my blog with yours. I enjoy and learn from what you have to say.

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  10. Hardly anyone gets published, and that is irrespective of merit. I think I have said this before, but the satisfaction I got from finishing my first novel was immense. It was a matter of artistic achievement, and that counts for a lot. You never lose that.
    M

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    • I feel the same way about my first novel. I still can’t believe I finished it after such a long process. Who knew I could persist at something for three years without stopping? ;-) I’ll always be proud of it, even if it never sees the light of a publishing house. My muse and I are always going to write, but I do enjoy the challenge of breaking into the industry.

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  11. I think it’s really about semantics. You have never lost anything, you’ve simply been weeding out those too immersed in the mundane to see brilliance. It’s good to get them out of the way early. ;-)

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  12. I have a feeling 2011 was foreshadowing the successes to come in 2012. I can’t wait to hear about the wonderful surprises this year holds for you. You’ve earned every success. Writing is a blood sport; it’s true- the quill is mightier than the sword (and more dangerous).

    I wish you all the best and may 2012 surpass your wildest dreams and expectations.

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