Time for Reflection

December Rose

For me, December is always a month of reflection. With every Christmas card I write, I think about my family and friends and question whether or not I have spent enough time with them throughout the year.  I also look back on my accomplishments, both with my writing and my teaching. What have I learned along the way? 

I am a life-long learner and consider each mistake I make as an opportunity for improvement (even though I may cringe at the time).  As long as I learn and aim not to make the same mistake twice, I can move onwards and upwards in the quest to become the best person I can possibly be. 

I recently received a lovely email from one of my former teaching staff who reminded me that throughout my life I have changed careers and worked hard to be successful in each of those professions. He told me that I inspired him and he was considering a career change. I felt humbled by his words. He then asked me how my writing was coming along and I had to carefully consider his question. I thoroughly enjoy my writing and continue to learn so much about the craft . I am working harder than ever to improve and achieve publishing success but with the exception of a few letters printed in a writing magazine and being short listed in a short story competition, I haven’t yet achieved my goal. Yes, I’ve completed a novel and yes I have written about a hundred short stories over the past eighteen months but fighting for my place in the world of fiction is the most challenging task I’ve ever undertaken.

For me, the most frustrating part of being a writer is the lack of control one has once a story/novel has been sent away in the hope a magazine editor or an agent will notice it. We simply don’t know what is happening to our work. In the past, I have received a manuscript back which was covered with coffee stains.  That is just rude!  No wonder a lot of writers opt to self-publish and decide to take control.

I have always taken control of my own life, taken risks and ploughed through some tough times in order to achieve success. It is rather frustrating having to rely on someone else to see my work come to fruition. So maybe, in 2016 I should re-think my writing journey and create more control for myself. I haven’t got a clue how I am going to do it yet but I will be sure to share my journey in future posts.

Are you a life-long learner? How do you take control of your writing? I would love to hear your story.

http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com
Congratulations to all members of the IWSG for a great 12 months and a special thanks to the team who make this group possible, especially the founder, Alex, who has supported us all throughout 2015.

Comments

  1. What a lovely post and a gorgeous photo, Nicola! I, too, am a life-long learner and love gaining new knowledge - I even did my MA in history and literature as a mature student some years ago. That was such an amazing compliment your former colleague paid you and should certainly encourage you.

    As for writing - I was first published as a short story and article writer so I was well used to submitting and waiting in ever growing impatience! These days, the Internet makes it a little quicker but we still need a huge dose of persistence and perseverance. I do understand why so many writers are now going down the indie route and I've taken back my rights to a couple of novels, though others are still with publishers. I love the choices we have so it's a good idea to take stock of your own writing and make an informed decision about the next step. I think you'd enjoy (and benefit?) from having a look at Joanna Penn's website, mentioned on my blog just now - excellent for anyone considering the indie path. Good luck!

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    1. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement, Rosemary. My practice of persistence and perseverance has reach new heights this year :) I am a big fan of Joanna Penn and was lucky to meet her last year at the Frankfurt Book Fair. It was only a fleeting moment but she is a great inspiration and knows her stuff when it comes to self-publishing. I wish you a lovely week, Rosemary. Just popping over to your blog now :) See you there.

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  2. How very kind of him to tell you that. It always warms the heart to hear we've made an impact on others.

    I understand. Waiting gives your mind a lot of time to wonder what if. It can be brutal. Best of luck.

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  3. That's awesome you inspired him.
    Covered in coffee stains? That is rude.

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    1. To be honest, I giggled when I opened it. It was either that or get annoyed and life is too short for annoyance. Thank you for popping by, Alex. Always lovely to 'see' you. Hope your sale goes well.

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  4. On the plus side, the coffee stains show a bit of usage and that the manuscript was kept nearby for some time rather than being returned pristine and unread...
    I think I'm in a similar place to you Nicola, a few things shortlisted, still humming and haa-ing over the best route to take, but I have looked back recently and felt that I've made progress and kept learning, which feels like a good place to be.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier, nice to 'meet' you :)
    Angie

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    1. Thank you, Angie! It's nice to know we are in the same place and not alone :) Like you, I am pleased with my progress and I love learning and experimenting. I did smile when I received my well worn manuscript back. I've also had the prestine ones back and they are more disheartening. But onwards and upwards. Wishing you a fabulous Christmas and may 2016 continue to move us both in the right direction. Thank you for popping by to comment. Lovely to 'meet' you.

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  5. How wonderful that you inspired him! Being a writer is tough. I don't think a writer can ever be fully in control of their career. We must learn and better ourselves, and keep on writing. Sometimes that's the hardest thing to do.

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    1. I agree with you there, Christine. I am finding myself being distracted by the preparations for Christmas at the moment. Although I try to write something each day, even it's only a couple of hundred words. Thank you for popping by to comment. It's always lovely to 'see' you.

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  6. I love that someone took the time to tell you you made a difference in their life. I, too, am a life-long learner and what I've learned about writing is that it is hard. You have to have a thick skin and just follow your own heart on your own path. I know you will figure it out, Nicola. Just from the little time I've known you.

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    1. You are so kind, Karen. Thank you for your words of encouragement. My path has been a bit iggledy piggledy of late but I am facing the future with optimism. Wishing you a lovely December.

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  7. That's a great story! I hope I can inspire someone like that one day. I've learned that I have to be true to myself when writing. I used to try to incorporate everyone's critiques into my work, but then I realized that's impossible!

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    1. I think it is important to remain true to oneself, Deborah. It's lovely to 'see' you and thanks for popping by. Next time I'll have the coffee on :) have a lovely week.

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  8. One of the greatest achievements someone can accomplish is to change the world for the better. You inspired someone, and that is definitely positive action. You are a world changer.

    As far as taking control of your writing... I think you already do that. You put the words down on paper. You choose who you send your work to and when to send it. Perhaps the audience varies, but you have decided and acted upon your writing. Kudos to you. :)

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    1. Thanks so much for your words of encouragement Loni. Means a lot. Me a world changer - what a thought. Must continue to do more :) I really like your take on 'control'. That puts a new light on how I've been feeling of late. And I am in awe of what you have achieved this month! Kudos right back at ya! :)

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  9. My favorite thing about writing is that you never stop learning. Even when I think I 'know it all' I'm surprised by something new. Keep going, you're on the right path! Before you know it you might just wander into the answers you're looking for.

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    1. Thanks so much Megan! I can't believe the amount of encouragement I'm receiving today. It is all so heart lifting!! Lovely to 'see' you here Megan. Have a fantastic December.

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  10. Not being in control of what happens to our work once sent to agents or editors is one of the harder parts of being a writer. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to put a little tracker on each submission letting us know if it has been read, liked, passed to someone else, or just passed on. :)

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    1. Now there's a brilliant idea Cherie!!! I'm gonna patent that immediately and get my Science genius daughter to make it. We could be billionaires by next summer :) Thanks so much for popping over to comment. Lovely to meet you. Do drop by again. I'll bake some cookies :)

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  11. There is a lot we can't control about writing and publishing. The control and lack of trust of publishers are why I enjoy self-publishing. Even then, there are lots of things you can't control, particularly whether anyone will buy it and read it.

    I read somewhere recently that we writers shouldn't think of publishers not publishing our work as rejections but as non-acceptances. The example the article gave was going out to eat. You consider Italian, Mexican, or Chinese food, but just because you pick one and not the other two has nothing to do with rejecting them. They just aren't what you want tonight. It's all subjective.

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    1. I like that, Cherie. Puts a whole different spin on non-acceptance :) Thank you for stopping by to comment. Have a lovely rest of the week.

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  12. I know that I having seen my friends much, but I do my best to stay in contact with family.

    Coffee stains on your manuscript? Gosh, that is rude! They should respect everyone's work whether she publish it or not!

    The learning part of writing is my favorite part. :)

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    1. I recently wrote a short story completely out of my comfort zone and found that I loved it. Doing something different relaxed me and I was very pleased with the end result. Thank you for commenting Chrys. Lovely to 'see' you.

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  13. I say follow your heart. It always knows what to do. :-)

    Anna from Elements of Writing

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    1. Thank you Anna. I will remind myself of that.

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  14. It's definitely a struggle to make your mark in the world with your writing. I'm struggling too. I just keep reminding myself that I'll never reach my goal if I give up. Best of luck to you!

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    1. Thank you so much for popping over! Great to see you and wishing you lots of success with "Self-Help 101 or: How I Learned to Take Over the World Through Tolerating My Family". I read the blurb on your blog and immediately bought it. Sounds like so much fun. Have a lovely December.

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  15. It's nice to be able to inspire people that way.
    Self-publishing is a great option these days.

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    1. Thank you Lynda. Have a lovely week.

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  16. No matter how long I've been writing, I'm still learning. Sometimes it's an online class, sometimes it's a comment a fellow writer says or blogs. I'm always eager to learn more.

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    1. Thank you for popping by Diane. We also learn when we are researching which is exciting. Have a lovely December.

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  17. Ugh. Coffee stains? I'd be irritated about that too!
    Good luck with figuring out how to take control. I self pub and I love the control aspect, but it is a lot of hard work and I fail regularly at marketing. It doesn't stop me though because I love it and don't regret the decision.

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    1. Thanks for your words of encouragement, Patricia. Really pleased you are enjoying your chosen path. Good luck with more marketing :) Have a great December.

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  18. How lovely to receive such a thoughtful email, Nicola.

    I understand your frustration with the waiting and the sense of losing control over the stories once they are submitted. It is really hard, but what helped me to come to terms with it was to see it as an integral part of the creative writing process and to keep on writing like a demon while I was waiting for results. That way, I could virtually forget what was 'out there' and focus completely on the work in progress. The advantage was that I would put it so far to the back of my mind that news of the results came as a surprise - not always a nice surprise of course if my story wasn't there on the list! - but the impact of any disappointment was reduced by the knowledge that in the meantime I had sent out more stories that were still in with a chance. And many of the successful stories have only won through after several attempts anyway.

    Like you, I feel I am always keen to learn and take on new ideas and new approaches, sometimes even risks, with my writing. I went to a talk given by Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones recently and his advice for any creative person was to never, ever give up. He loves his craft too much to ever stop learning and says he is still learning even today. He felt that the most successful people are those who are always keeping their minds open to new possibilities, so we are in good company!
    Wishing you great success with your plans for the coming year and thank you for the terrific support you have always given me. xxx

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  19. Thank you so much for your comment of encouragement and wisdom, Joanna. I always value your honesty and support. Your sound advice has reminded me of what is needed to be done. I do try but sometimes fleeting moments of doubt creep in. However, I have planned my next months of writing and will ensure I stick with it and keep the insecurities in check :)

    Wishing you continued success with Tying Down the Lion and your book of short stories Joanna and I hope that 2016 will bring more writing successes your way and lots more enjoyment to your readers (me included!).

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  20. You've achieved a lot and should be proud of that. You're right about the lack of control. It's frustrating and often luck seems to play quite a part in whether or not one particular book or story is successful or not.

    Trying not to repeat the same mistakes is my method of moving forward. I'm getting truly excellent at making brand new mistakes!

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    1. Thank you for popping by to comment Patsy. I love 'brand new mistakes' :)

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  21. That's great that you inspired someone else. I would call that a fantastic achievement. As for writing, the great thing is we have a lot of different options these days. Many pursue self-publishing, and are also published by small presses etc. I would say getting the manuscript back is a good sign rather than them just putting it in the bin and would say that being covered in coffee stains means they were looking at it quite a lot!

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    1. Thank you Nick. It was rather nice to know that my story was used as a coaster and made it off the slush pile :) Hopefully 2016 will see my stories in print. That's my aim :) Have a wonderful Christmas with the family and thanks again for popping by to comment.

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  22. It's wonderful that you're a life-long learner and have adapted and succeeded with the career changes you've had. For many people, taking control and self-publishing is the way to go. I had my 3rd novel pubbed with a small publisher and got an agent. I was quite disappointed with both (one for disorganization and no support, the other for a rude and bullying attitude) and will be self-pubbing my 4th novel. Wishing you the best in 2016!

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    1. Sounds like a tough ride, Lexa. Wishing you a fun journey with your 4th novel. Wishing you a happy and successful 2016! Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

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  23. I'm waiting on some queries and submissions. I do feel like that is out of my control, especially when publishing is a slow business. I don't know who'll accept or when I'll hear back. This is a very different profession compared to others, where you go on interviews face-to-face and get hired.

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    1. It certainly is different, Medeia. Sending our work out into the ether requires a lot of nerve and plenty of patience. Wishing you a fantastic and successful 2016. Thank you for sharing and for popping over!

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  24. It's definitely hard getting our start, but once you have a few good publishing credits, it's much easier getting noticed. Here's wishing you the notice you deserve.

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    1. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement, Crystal - they warmed my heart. Wishing you a super Christmas season and lots of success in 2016.

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  25. We may not have control over our work once it has been sent out but we have total control over its creation - and that's what's important.

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