Tracy Lucas wrote a great post the other night that made me get all nostalgic about the writing process. Sometimes, when I read blog posts by fellow writers (in her case, writer, editor, and publisher), I’ll leave a comment. Other times, I’ll tacitly agree or disagree with their words and go about my day.
Rarely do I feel compelled to write a post here about another post elsewhere. Today is one of those rarities.
First you really should go read her post. Do it. I’ll wait.
At the heart of that post she makes a great point: Don’t miss your milestones. I think this is an important thing for a writer to do. In fact, I’d make the case that it’s one of the most important things for a writer to do. Being someone who just made it through a 116k word excursion that is the jungle of First Drafts after being lost there for over a year, I can now look back at all the posts I made here on this site, as well as entries in my writing journal, and gauge my progress. I can look back and see where things went wrong, where they went right, and how it all came together one step at a time.
All those times I posted screenshots here were milestones. Every time I made a status update about the latest word count–that was a milestone, too. Thing is, I didn’t realize it at the time. I’m only realizing it now.
Like Tracy’s husband, I’ve also invalidated my goals once I got there, and I think that’s part of the point. That’s how things keep going. Maybe it goes back to the mantra that “An artist’s work is never done.” You set a goal, and when you get there, it’s no longer the big deal that it was because you now have an even greater goal that’s another two thousand steps beyond where you are. Case in point: Now that TLM’s first draft is finished, I’m looking ahead at a year from now, at which point I’d like TLM to be in print and in your hands. I’m just as guilty of this.
In terms of validation, sure, we may look to so-called “gatekeepers” to validate our work. I, like Tracy, often wonder what it might be like to get a big advance from a NY publisher. I think that’s been ingrained in us, but (thankfully) the times are changing, and maybe in a few generations writers won’t have to think about selling their work to huge houses in NY to consider themselves “professional.” But, that’s a whole other blog post, for another time.
Anyway, if there’s a point to this, it’s to reiterate that the steps you take on a journey toward your goal are equally important. Every step, even if it doesn’t seem like it, is still a step, and whether it takes five steps or five thousand, it doesn’t matter so long as you keep taking them. Eventually you will get there.