I've been reading writers' Facebook posts summarizing 2017 and looking forward to bigger and better things in 2018. Many of them listed books being published and manuscripts sold that will become future books, which is fabulous. But I wonder how they celebrated those accomplishments.
Writers struggle for years to produce a publishable book. Then there's the long, agonizing journey to find an agent who loves the project, and another trek to find a publisher who believes in it, too. In the quest to attract agents and publishers, we endure more rejection than many people face in a lifetime. We battle anxiety and self doubt. We question why we put ourselves through this torture.
So when a writer's manuscript beats the odds and becomes a purchasable reality, you'd think there'd be a big party. All the friends and relatives who couldn't for the life of them understand why it took ten years to make a book would be invited, along with the author's writing community. They'd bring their excitement and high hopes for the book's success. The author's spirit would bubble and glow, refreshed and recharged for the grueling journey of the next project.
I have a lot of published writer friends, but I've never heard of any of them throwing a party. They share their good news on Facebook and Twitter, garnering a flurry of excitement that lasts a day or two, all of it evaporating in cyberspace while the author sits at home. The closest they come to physically celebrating is a book launch. Although they get congratulated and wished good luck, book launches are all about about introducing and selling the book. It's business
My critique group is wonderfully supportive and deeply committed to each member's success. We celebrate holidays with gifts and goodies, sometimes even a special lunch. If one of us travels, they'll likely bring back souvenirs. Our fabulous leader Teddie often surprises us with impromptu gifts. But when it comes to our writing, an enthusiastic round of congratulations is how we usually recognize achievements. That's just plain sad. Are we allergic to literary exuberance, afraid too much joy will curse our next project?
I don't know the answer, but one of my goals in this new year is to rectify this imbalance. I've asked my critique partners to brainstorm ways to acknowledge accomplishments, from finishing a book to seeing it on the shelves. I'll let you know what we come up with and what we do with those suggestions. In the meantime, I hope you have an art or writing project you're excited about and that 2018 brings plenty to celebrate. Happy New Year!
I write middle grade and young adult books with a magical twist, and I'm represented by the fabulous Leslie Zampetti at Open Book Literary.
Lorin Oberweger - Freelance Editor