I recently finaled in the Kiss of Death’s Daphne du Maurier contest in the Mainstream category. I’ve gotta be honest, it’s been a while since I had a win. It felt good. It FEELS good. Real good. I’ve wanted to final in this contest for years, so yes, when I got the news, I may have done the laughing-crying thing.
My husband took me out to celebrate but, ever the realist, said, “Be careful of this high on the roller coaster.” After I shot him the stink-eye, I had to take a deep breath. He was right. (I hate when he’s right.)
It’s a conversation we’ve had many times over the years that I’ve been writing with the goal of publication.
The Writer Roller Coaster. Worst. Ride. Ever. That is, if you’re living for the wins.
Living for the Win
When you’re living for the next win, you keep your sights set on the high points, on those relative two seconds of when you’re at the highest tip of the roller coaster. And when you’re living for the win, the low points aren’t the thrill dropping, stomach plunge of real roller coasters. Nope. They suck. The low points are the times when nothing’s happening, or you’ve received 22 rejections over the course of four months, or you’ve watched every single one of your writer buddies soar on to publication, contest wins, book sales, and more.
When you’re living for the win, or the next high, it can make the lows seem so much lower, and the drop to the lows so much more dramatic. It makes the time you spend in the lows stretch out, never seeming to end.
Learn to Live for the Journey
I’ve had to learn over the years how to refocus from “excitement for the win” to “excitement for the journey.”
Even though I’m super-excited about my contest final, it’s not as important to me as the journey that I’m on. Not just the journey to publication, but the journey to deeper self-understanding because of my writing path, the wonderful discoveries I’ve made in finding my people, my tribe, and how, at the end of the day, I place a greater value in the relationships I’ve formed because of this journey. More so than any contest final or win.
That puts things into perspective.
Am I saying no to celebrating the wins? Definitely not. Celebrate them. But then move on. Don’t let them consume you.
Same rule goes for the losses. Grieve them. But then move on. Don’t let them consume you.
I give myself until midnight. Whatever happens, whatever’s needed, allow yourself to sink into that emotion until midnight. Eat ice cream from the tub, pop open the champagne, cry with your best friend, binge on Netflix, wear the tiara. At 12:01AM, the clock starts over, and so do you. The glass shoes come off, and it’s time to get back to work.
For me, every contest final or high point on this journey has provided me a good vantage point to look back over where I’ve come from and a little bit of where I’m headed. From up here, I can see my lows were the building blocks that I had to stack to get to the high points. It helps me remember what’s important to focus on.
“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” ~ Greg Anderson
“Aim for the sky, but move slowly, enjoying every step along the way. It is all those little steps that make the journey complete.” ~ Chanda Kochhar
“Sooner or later we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip.” ~ Robert J. Hastings
Passion Is a Lifelong Marathon
When you find your passion and purpose in life, you start on a lifelong marathon with no finish line. There will be rest stops along the way, high and low points in the road. Some areas will be easier, some will be harder, but you keep running. You keep improving. You keep seeking new ways to sink more fully into your life’s passion. You keep doing the thing that makes your soul smile.
And that’s really what it’s all about, right? Doing the things that make our souls smile and add beauty to the world.
Tonight, I’m raising my glass. Not just to my final, but to all the high and low points of this journey, and to you, my fellow lover of words and stories and magic. Thanks for being on this journey with me. No place I’d rather be.
Is your writing journey a search for the wins, a sprint, a marathon...or something else entirely? Describe for us why you do this job down in the comments!
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Christina Delay is the hostess of Cruising Writers and an award-winning author represented by Deidre Knight of The Knight Agency. When she's not cruising the Caribbean, she's dreaming up new writing retreats to take talented authors on or writing the stories of the imaginary people that live in her heart.
Cruising Writers brings writers together with bestselling authors, an agent, an editor, and a world-renowned writing craft instructor writing retreats around the world.
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