I’ve been thinking a lot lately about writing and rejection and good results and bad results and all the fun things that twist your mind around as a writer. Especially watching some of the fallout of the awards ugliness these past few weeks.
(I can’t say how sorry I feel for a couple of the slate nominees that I recognize from the WOTF forums that aren’t part of pushing that agenda but are very much caught up in the whole thing.)
And I’ve come to one simple conclusion: You have to separate the pride you take in writing a good story or writing the story you meant to write from what happens to that story after you release it into the wild.
I also realize that this goes far beyond just fiction writing. I remember working on projects at the old day job that I put my heart and soul into. Sometimes seeing what became of them was this amazing experience that made me proud and happy for weeks or months on end. And sometimes seeing what became of them made me kinda sorta hate everyone I worked with and wonder why I tried so hard.
I remember one project in particular where I led a small team to accomplish an amazing goal in a very short period of time. We were doing interesting work, too, so it was fun. The end result was something that was going to matter, that was going to have an impact.
One of those ideal experiences work-wise.
And then, as things do, we were the victims of our own success. That little project that was so promising got morphed into a much larger project. One that became political and that took what we’d started, spent two years on expanding it, and at the end of the day wasn’t much more than what we’d done in the first place. All because egos and conflicting agendas got in there and f’ed it up.
It was frustrating to watch happen. Like a slow motion car wreck. And there was nothing I personally could do to fix it. (I tried anyway to the extent I could.)
As awful as the outcome was, it didn’t change what we’d done. It was still a great, successful project that I loved running. The results were still something I was proud of. I hated seeing how it turned out, but I tried really hard not to let that result diminish my pride in what we’d accomplished.
Ideally, I’d do this in all aspects of my life. Take pride in the accomplishment no matter the result.
I think the best approach to any story or novel that I could possibly take is write what I want to write, know that I believe it’s good, get it out there either through self-pub or trade pub, and then never ever think of it again. Don’t read the reviews. Don’t look at the sales. Just keep moving forward, proud of what I accomplished and ready to accomplish more.
Oh, if only that were possible. (It isn’t if you’re trying to treat your writing as a business because you have to know what sells and you have to care about actual sales numbers.)
But to the extent that I can do it, that’s my goal going forward. Hold onto the pride in what I’ve done and don’t let anything that comes after diminish that feeling.