At the end of last week I found out I was shortlisted for the Writer’s Union of Canada’s Short Prose Competition. I think what impressed me most was that my story passed 50 hands to make it as a finalist among 12 others. (I eagerly await jury’s comments that are to be coming.)
On Sunday my father announced that he had just been awarded his third dan! I was very excited for him. He passed his second dan in 1999. What dedication, I thought. The years of training!
Of course this lead me to thinking about writing, and how many years it can take before success is achieved (and for each of us this is a different definition.) It is a trade, a craft that must be learned, and most of us writers seem to do it on our own, without any teachers. I have been using books on the craft, recently the internet, and more recently a writer’s group. I knowthat it is a slow learning process, yet I still think it should be quicker.
Needing some kind of encouragement along the way, I decided to begin submitting short stories. Literally journals require a lot of time and investigation, so I decided to pick one or two competitions to enter each year. I never thought I would win anything, I was certain it would take years, but having a deadline and submitting something felt good anyway. I was shocked when that same year, two years, ago I submitted to two competitions, and won a second place award for a Quebec competition. Last year I was long listed for a Canada-wide competition, and this year I am short listed. I see my progress, and it is very encouraging. Does it make a difference in the end, these designations and awards? No, not really. But, to me they are little hurdles that mark my passage.
Now, as I begin this week having completed my novel goals on time and entering phase 3: analysis (while meeting a deadline for an article), I try to think of my progress, hoping to still my racing heart. I realized this morning as I drove home that I have performance anxiety when I think of tackling my novel. Will I be able to do it? Will I see all its flaws? I know once my work begins I disappear into it, forgetting about my anxieties, my fears of not performing well enough.
How do you congratulate yourself in this long road? How do you, as a writer, keep yourself rewarded?