Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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January 4, 2012

Can Looking Back Provide Inspiration For Your Future?

By Laura Drake

Christmas is over. Wrapping paper is put away, tarnished tinsel flashes on the Christmas trees at the curb, awaiting trash pickup. I don’t want to hear a Christmas carol for at least another eleven months.

Now everyone is looking ahead, to 2012. You’re not going to be able to avoid thinking about resolutions, whether you made them or not.

You’ve already read blogs, even a few here at WITS, about setting goals for the upcoming year. Hopefully you’ll set some for yourself.

This blog isn’t about that. Instead, I urge you to look back.

But we don’t have time for that... *whining* We have things to do! Plotting, butt-time, queries, revisions, classes. You know, STUFF!

I get that. As you may have heard, I tend to be a bit compulsive, in writing as well as the rest of my life. I don’t take breaks often. Even my vacations are challenges – 5,000 mile motorcycle trips, bicycling trips across New Mexico, things like that.

This Christmas, we had a quiet week in Texas, hanging out with Alpha Dog’s 82 year-old mother. Life here is slow, and I had time for introspection. I looked back over my writing career to date and the memories swamped me.

  • I remember sitting in front of a blank computer screen, a story in my head, trying to beat its way past my insecurity to get on the page.
  • I remember my first RWA meeting – amazed at how many other people did this crazy thing!
  • The pride of typing “The End” on my first book
  • My first National Conference – one of the most exhausting and exciting three days of my life
  • Getting a judge’s sheet back from the Orange Rose Contest, and seeing the name Debbie Macomber written at the bottom!  And she was even complimentary and encouraging!
  • Getting the opportunity to meet Debbie, and knit with her when she visited our chapter
  • Meeting Sue Grimshaw, Editor for Random House, who gave me a big hand up
  • Winning my first contest
  • The day I signed with my agent

Why stroll down memory lane?

Because writing is hard, and getting published is harder. Even if you choose to self-publish, it’s no walk in the park – ask someone who’s done it. Everything takes a LOT longer than you think it will, and the failures are legion.

When you’re discouraged, all you see are little things that don’t seem to add up to much. But if you look back, you can see that they have.

You may not be moving as fast as you like, but you ARE moving. That’s instant inspiration!

Where did you start? What were your signposts along the way? Here’s your chance to inspire others as we start the new year - we want to hear about it!

Happy 2012 from all of us here at WITS. May all your resolutions come true!


0 comments on “Can Looking Back Provide Inspiration For Your Future?”

  1. Laura, that is an amazing menu of accomplishments !! Great stuff to think back on and be proud of. Not doing the resolution thing and relating to your compulsive nature, I didn't so much reflect as muse and I won't so much plan as act for once. 2012 will be a great year ... for me to get out there and for you to live the next chapter of your story ... a publisher and the second book and then all bets are off. I'll see you somewhere down the road 🙂

  2. Hey, Laura, I just read Catie Rhodes' blog about our life being like a pointillism painting - one dot at a time - creating a picture along the way. All of our day-to-day experiences add up to make our entire life and changing any of those dots will change the whole thing. We can look back on what we've done and know that where we are today, would not be the same if just one thing were to be changed. Thanks for this post.

    1. Oh, I LOVE that analogy - it is so true! I wish I could get young kids to see that - they think every tiny misstep is a calamity, and often, looking long term, it's the opposite!

      I'm going to read the whole thing on Jen's link now . . . thanks, you two!

  3. Laura, I saw you accomplish many of the above things and can say you earned everything and then some with hard work. Looking back reminds us all that it's when we work the hardest, that we reach our goals. 🙂

  4. Laura,

    You know you inspire me every day with your sheer bullheaded drive. By example, you've taught me that the dream will happen, if you drip that water on the rock of your novel EVERY day until it's done. (You know you're a "force of nature," right?)

    I don't remember when I started writing, but I sure remember the first time I got a gold star for my writing from Mrs. Mullen in the 6th grade. 🙂

    It's taken me longer to learn the baby steps than anything else. Blogging here at WITS and over at my site, More Cowbell, is what has finally turned the tide. I'll just say, "thanks bunches" and slink off to go sniffle over the all the fun writing memories.

    1. Sharla and Jen,
      I didn't want to bore readers with detail, but you know that another milestone that shot me up the road was when you accepted me into your wonderful crit group...

      Sniff...love you guys.

  5. You're right, Laura, it takes looking back sometimes to calm down the panic of going forward. LOL! When I look back on the last ten years of writing, learning, scrapping it, writing some more, learning about...the internet..., finding millions of other writers out there, learning that everything I did was wrong (lol), writing, blogging, networking, my first conference and being in awe of such a big room full of people like me, querying, rejections, TWITTER! , signing w/my agent, signing with my publisher, and holding on to that moving sidewalk ever since... It's been a cool ride!

    Great post, Laura!

    1. Sharla, My blood pressure rose just READING your reply!

      Chill out, Girl - when we cross the finish line, we'll forget all about the panicky details, right?

  6. One of the major mileposts in my writing career was when I started getting "good" rejections on novel manuscripts from agents and editors who liked my writing but couldn't buy my stories because they didn't fit into the then-acceptable genres. So glad that those restrictions don't apply today! But joining RWA helped me learn, back then, what those acceptable genres were.

    1. I know what you mean, Linda, but I'd make the case that they still apply today -- IF you're seeking NY publishing.

      Enjoy all those wonderful memories!

  7. What a challenging post, Laura. To look back over the past year(s) in addition to making the new year's resolutions! We always tend to want everything NOW and forget how many things we've already accomplished. It's good to give ourselves a pat on the back, now and then, rather than always focusing on what needs to be done next. We should remind ourselves that it is all perfect, and we are exactly where we are supose to be at this moment in time.

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