"Snippet" -- a small piece or brief extract
It has been a busy writing season this fall! We had #FallWritingFrenzy and #Halloweensie, along with a bunch of other fun little chance contests, conferences, trainings, and pitch parties . . . I'm currently part of 4 regular critique groups, in addition to some pop-up groups here and there. It's been a crazy fun and busy time!
I got no agent/editor love on any of the pitch parties in which I participated. Winners for FallWritingFrenzy and Halloweensie were posted this week, and I was not on either list. I sent out a query that I hoped was at least going to be a, "Yes, this has potential, but it needs some work and polishing." Instead, it was a, "Unfortunately, these stories lack structure and focus. . . sorry, but NO." Some might say, "Maybe it's time to give up." Some might say, "Well, at least you gave it your best effort." Some might say, "You're a little old to be starting on a new career path."
I say, "Nope." Even though I didn't "WIN", I didn't LOSE. I gained a lot from all these efforts:
1. I gain PRACTICE. Every time I put fingers to keyboard or pencil to paper, it is practice. Every time I exercise my brain in a new way, it is practice. Every time I stretch myself out of my comfort zone, it is practice.
2. I gain KNOWLEDGE. Sometimes, it is knowledge about myself or my writing skills. Sometimes, it is knowledge about the process of writing. Sometimes, I gain knowledge of how this or that platform works. Sometimes, it requires research about topics, which gives me more knowledge for the next writing.
3. I gain EXPERTISE. Every time I put myself out there, it's a new experience that adds to my expertise. The more I try, the stronger my expertise.
4. I gain CONFIDENCE. OK, this one is a bit of a double-edged sword. Losing can definitely put a hurting on my confidence. I'm human. It's hard. But I think of it more this way: Every time I do something, the next time gets easier. The first pitch party I ever did was nerve-wracking! Now, they're just another opportunity. I've gotten better at the process by doing it over and over. It's easier to put myself and my writing out there because of the practice, which leads to confidence.
5. I gain PATIENCE. I hear new writing friends talking about "waiting on pins and needles" to hear back from a query or in a pitch party. Through participation, I have learned patience. I do my best, then, I let it go. I wait. I've learned that often it's a NO. The more they happen, the less devastating they are typically.
6. I gain THICK SKIN. It's imperative in this field to have thick skin. Not so easy for this empathic, heart-on-her-sleeve, take-everything-personally, wounded person. Did I mention I'm human? :-/ But the more No's I encounter, my skin toughens -- like doing gymnastics or playing guitar, we have to develop callouses. The trick is to keep your skin thick and your heart soft.
7. I gain HUMILITY. It's easy to win. Not always so easy to lose. If I can learn to be a gracious loser, it will make me a more gracious winner when my time finally does come. Both are equally important, and we will encounter both many times in our lives. We need to be gracious whether we win or lose.
8. I gain EMPATHY. I don't ever want to forget what a NO feels like. If I experience them enough, that experience will be indelibly imprinted on my heart. It will help me be a better friend to people who are in the midst of a NO. This is not just true in my writing, but in my spiritual walk as well. Sometimes God says NO and it's hard. I need to remember that feeling in every area of my life because it helps me to be a better person.
9. I gain BULK in my writing. Every piece I write is another piece to pull from later. A poem that may become part of an anthology. An idea that may become a story. A story that may become a book. A character that may show up somewhere else. I add to my portfolio. I add to my cache of stories. I have more to work with.
10. I gain FRIENDS. I didn't say "followers" on purpose. I think we're so caught up in numbers in our world. I favor quality over quantity. I won't lie. I love seeing my follower numbers go up. There is a sense of accomplishment in that, but it can be a false indicator. I TREASURE those comments that indicate people's hearts resonate with what I write. I love hearing that I made them laugh, or made them feel better, or encouraged them. Life is short, and we never have enough friends. This is a tough road, and we need people to hold our hand on the crappy writing days when we don't feel like a gracious loser. We need people to remind us our voice is vital, and our stories are different from everyone else's. We need people to tell us that someone out there needs a story that we are carrying it. Then, we need to write that story. The one that will make someone laugh, heal, grieve, move forward, cry, overcome jealousy, smile. The one that will touch someone somewhere.
If our writing is doing any of that, then we are not losers, my friends. We are winners every single day. Keep writing the stories of your heart, and I'll keep writing mine. When the time is right . . . it will be a YES!
Oh, and one bonus thing I've gained:
11. I've gained hours of entertainment by reading all the amazing entries for ALL these contests! Such awe-inspiring, funny, sad, moving, informational, silly, awesome stories. I'm thankful I didn't have to be a judge ;-) Thank you to all of you who are writing the stories of your heart! I've smiled, laughed, and cried right along with you -- whether you "WON" or not ;-)
I've been a teacher of K-3 students for over 20 years; I'm also a writer of poems, short stories, devotionals and picture books. I'm wife to an amazing husband and mom to Sparkles the kitty. I love reading, writing, singing and listening to music. I enjoy nature, Bible study and spending time with friends and family!