Ambition Drought

A Year of Writing Prompts by Brian A. Klems & Zachary Petit
January 6
I will consider myself successful when…
“Finish this sentence: As a writer, I will consider myself successful when…”

This very questions has crossed my mind so many times over the years. When I was younger I used to think that I will be successful when I have a New York Time No. 1 bestseller. When you dream, you’re supposed to go big, right? No? Well, as time has gone on I’ve discovered how hard it is to just finish a novel. When I say finish I mean a first draft, followed by edit after edits, and with some final spit and polish. This thing should fucking gleam in the sunlight. That way when the agent opens it to read my manuscript they’re immediately blinded and I become their only client.

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo a couple years. Only the first though did I actually try and succeed. I even spilled into December and finished it on the 6th. I was so very proud of myself. Now I’ve been pouring over it ever since. I finished that one at the tail end of 2009. Or maybe it was 2010… Regardless I have spent entirely too much time pondering the plot lines and if it’s good enough that I have written myself into a corner and fear taking a step out of it. I imagine that has happened to so many before me. I’m sure it’s what keeps others from even attempting at all. That’s just the nature of the beast and some artists are just not well equipped to handle the pressure that comes with trying to make a business out of their art.

At one time I thought success would be to get a book published. Then I lowered that bar to getting and agent… And at some point I settled for just finishing my book.

The infuriating thing is that I know I can do it. I can finish my book and submit it to agents. There is no doubt in my mind. I have the capability and drive to get me there. It’s just my inner critic, my doubt, my fear, that keeps me stationary.

Once a polished manuscript sits in my hands, only then, will I consider myself successful. It means I have pushed through my worst obstacle, myself.

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The Striptease of Writer’s Digest, “Don’t touch the dancers.”

As much as I love Writer’s Digest they are in fact the devil.  Yes.  The dark lord from the pits of hell.  They are very persistent with their e-mails and I find myself opening almost everyone lured by the subject line or the hope of getting published.  Here is the thing, my novel isn’t anywhere near ready, and the ones that are the most enticing are “Get an agent to read your first 10 pages” or “2nd draft critique” or “Query Letter critique.”  Two of them also bill the chance of the agent doing the workshop “might ask for more!” I doubt it ever happens, but could.  It’s mainly a way of selling more of the workshops.

My husband pointed out that they have an amazing business model and they really do.  They are playing on peoples hopes and dreams.  It’s equivalent to “talent” agencies that charge a fee to represent you in the hope to “make it big!”  It’s horrible.  Now I don’t think that Writer’s Digest is at all malicious.  I think they’re truly offering “opportunities” but whether or not it goes anywhere is unlikely.  And that has nothing to do with Writer’s Digest, that’s just the nature of the beast.

I have to keep repeating, everyday, every morning, every minute, to be a writer one needs to WRITE, not sit back and dream of seeing one’s book on a shelf.  That’s not how it works.  It takes time, dedication, and persistence.  Even when confronted with adversity external or (most likely) internal, one pushes past keeping in mind their ultimate goal.  And once that manuscript is gleaming and has so much promise will these offers from Writer’s Digest be worthwhile.  Until that time they are like a stripper to me.  They are pretty and flashy, dancing seductively from a platform with no potential to touch.  Once I put in for a lap dance, maybe the dancer will like me and things will be different.