Writing can be slog. It is a craft we often hone between day jobs, parenting, education, bills, grocery shopping, and other everyday life obligations. One in which the successes often mean more work (draft one done, now to start draft two). Writers become accustomed to operating the shadows of other immediacies, pouring their souls into works that might never leave the safe cocoon of their computer screen. So when a win comes along, however small and seemingly inconsequential (trust me, it’s not), there is a tendency among most of us to brush it off, to minimize it to the outside if we even expose it at all, to internalize it because there is just so much more to do.
This is me telling you to knock that the hell off.
I remember my very first short story acceptance. At that point I had been writing for 11 years and had yet to have a published anything to my name. I was elated and excited and beyond myself with the idea that there would be a physical book out there with my name and my words inside. I could hardly contain myself, and then my husband asked me about it and I said something to the likes of, “Yeah, it’s cool, but it’s not a big deal really.” But it was a big deal. It was a huge deal. Looking back, after a few more successes, it’s still a big deal and a memory I cherish. So why do we hold onto this nefarious first instinct to demean it?
Look, the goal posts are always going to shift. Say you want a book deal, the hot minute you get one you’ll be looking sidelong at the authors that scored bigger advances, then to the authors that get multiple book deals, then to the authors that become best sellers, then to the authors that win prestigious awards, then to the authors that have books optioned for movies, etc., and so forth. There’s always more. Bigger. Better. But think about where you were a year ago, or two, or three. Wouldn’t you have dreamed to be where you are now? Back then, didn’t you look up to people like your present self? Now look at what you have done in that span of time. I guarantee you deserve a pat on the back.
As women we are trained from early ages to remain modest, humble, and sweet, and being loud and proud and boisterously celebratory of one’s own accomplishment runs counterintuitive to those oppressive teachings. Well, screw ‘em. You deserve it. You didn’t write through sleep deprivation, through pain and trauma, in between unrelenting schedules and jobs and responsibilities, in the wee hours of the night, or in the face of outright societal and industry hostility just to shrug your shoulders when you hit a goal post. Shout it, let yourself and others you feel safe with bask in all your glory. Those that balk can kindly let the door hit them in the ass on their way out.
Celebrations are infectious. They make you want more, they drive you to not only move your authorial goalpost but to hit the new one too. They help you to remember why you’re doing this to begin with, because it’s not because you enjoy feeling alone and bad about yourself all the time. We write for many personal reasons, but a sense of fulfillment is generally a driving factor behind most of them. And in the face of a wrathful political climate and even more wrathful actual climate, we need our wins more than ever. So take them, own them proudly, cling to them and wear them as the badges of pride and honor that they are. Let them provide a respite to the bullshit, if even for a moment.
And if anyone tries to take that away, pay keen attention, and never be afraid to show them the door.
If you don’t believe me, check out these links for further reading-