A few months ago I subscribed to Poets and Writers magazine because they regularly have relevant features (Finding Your Literary Agent, Free Writing Contests, The Power of Self-Publishing) and interviews with writers I admire (Neil Gaiman, Cheryl Strayed, Roxane Gay). The articles are fairly short, which means I make it from cover to cover in a couple of hours at most (your mileage may vary).
What I like most about the magazine, however, is the uplifting editorial approach. The tone is bright and cheery, with frequent success stories and discussions about the writing process that provide the perfect antidote to isolation and writerly despair.
Worried about diving into the third revision of your novel and anxious about how long it’s taking you? Not to fear! Writer Scott Cheshire took six years to write his debut novel, High as the Horses’ Bridles, and Courtney Maum took eleven years to finish her I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You.
Wondering whether publishing a book will result in a complete transformation of your life? A number of writers discuss their “first,” explaining how being published was nothing like they expected. The fantasies they entertained about instant adoration and unending acceptance from the big, bad world turned out to be, perhaps not surprisingly, mistaken. The truth, as usual, took on a surprising and ultimately more satisfying cast. Mostly, they just kept writing, turning to new projects and moving forward.
In general, I find it useful to be reminded that we’re all in this together. And I’m not just talking about the writing thing. Our culture prefers exceptional success stories to average lives. Mediocrity is worse than death for some people, but potential, the capacity for realizing growth or change, doesn’t demand hierarchies or judgment; we impose them because of our own insecurities.
In other posts, I’ve written about what I’ve learned through writing, but one of the most important lessons is my own measurement of self. If I’m satisfied by the writing I’ve done by the end of the day, I’m satisfied.
Keep at it, build yourself up, and take these words to heart:
“The harder you work, the luckier you’ll get.” –Edward Kelsey Moore, featured in the most recent issue of Poets and Writers.