Today we have such a treat! The wonderful Jennifer R. Hubbard has offered up a GREAT idea that I will certainly be using from here on out. Jennifer writes contemporary YA stories, including The Secret Year (Viking, 2010) (Which I LOVED), “Confessions and Chocolate Brains” (a short story in the 2011 anthology Truth & Dare), and the upcoming Try Not to Breathe (Viking, 2012) (Can't wait!). She blogs at http://JenniferRHubbard.blogspot.com
The Celebration File
True happiness only comes from within, and it doesn’t depend on external success, and nothing outside ourselves can give us a sense of wholeness...
All true. But that doesn’t mean we don’t crave a pat on the back sometimes, an acknowledgment that what we put out into the world is appreciated by someone, somewhere. This is especially true for writers. In part, we write for ourselves; there is joy in the very act of wordsmithing. But in another way, we write for an audience. We hope to connect with others through words, and when it happens, it’s very special.
For that reason, I’ve created celebratory files. My first such folder was one I created during my years of submitting short stories to literary journals. This is an incredibly tough market: every year there are fewer slots for an increasingly talented pool of people. I got one acceptance early on, followed by many, many rejections before acceptance number two. And so what I treasured in my special folder were the hand-written notes of encouragement from editors that, although they were technically rejections, constituted the “good rejections.” At times when I wondered if I’d ever be published again, if I was fooling myself by thinking I had enough talent to write for other people, I would go through that folder. After reading positive notes from editors at a dozen different magazines, I would realize that I was reaching people, even in this small way. It helped me go on.
Eventually I had a folder of acceptance letters and award certificates from contests I’d entered. And then when my first book came out, I was able to create two more celebratory files: a box that holds cards and notes from my launch party, plus some favorable reviews; and an email folder called “Fan Mail.”
Those who have just started the querying process may think they have nothing yet to put into the celebratory file, but what about the notes from a critique partner, or the favorable comments from a workshop teacher? Any time a complimentary note comes in, stick it in the celebratory file.
Naturally, I don’t suggest reading this file over and over obsessively. Writing has other joys to sustain us. But save these things for a rainy day, because we all have rainy days.