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.
Cruise with us to Grand Cayman this October with Kristen Lamb (Bestselling Author and Marketing Jedi), Rachel Caine (Bestselling Author of 50+ books), Deidre Knight (The Knight Agency), and Alex Sehulster (St. Martin’s Press).
Or get ready to Dive Deep and join us on a 7-day Immersion Cruise with Margie Lawson this December to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel!
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Ah, Christina, what a beautiful post. You're so wise. Love the 'wear the tiara'.
Those highs on the roller coaster can do one more thing, as well - give you perspective. You can look back, and see how far you've come. And, when you're in the trough (or the Mariana trench, where I go), they can be touchstones - that you ARE a good writer!
Thanks for this reminder.
Great post, Christina--I especially like the advice about giving yourself until midnight to feel WHATEVER emotions you want to feel, then kicking off those glass shoes (or swampy boots from wallowing) and starting over the next day.
Exactly! (And hopefully the boots aren't too swampy!)
Congratulations! Be sure to frame your certificates and hang them on your office wall. They're good things to look at when you hit the lows.
Yes, that's exactly what I do. It really does help on the low days!
Yes, Yes, Yes! Thanks so much for putting this out there!
In April I had two big published wins, finally, and after a long lot of rejections, it felt amazing! Riding high time, smiles for days and congrats coming out of the woodworks! I felt like a jackrabbit on steroids!
But that coaster came crashing down way too quick as I realized my moment in the sun was just that, and settled into more contest applications, more in the chair writing time, more uncertainty about my writing future...
Gotta keep focused on the writing journey more so than the wins going forward ?
Hi Lisa - oh I feel you, I really really do. It helps so much to view this as a big picture, lifelong marathon and be able to focus on the joy in the steps of the journey! Here's to more wins, of course, but even more--discovering the joy in the journey!
Yup! And I just put up my Friday blog post, inspired by your musings. So thanks much!
Drop on by anytime, the waters warm!
Congratulations - tiara time!
I love this! It's so important to put both the highs and the lows into perspective. Ultimately, we have to remember that the stories, the writing, the journey are what matters. Thanks for such great inspiration!
Congratulations Christina! Big hugs! That's a fabulous contest to final in! I'm so happy for you.
Another friend and I have been talking about this very thing. We decided we need to share our wins with each other to celebrate them. This is a challenging career and those wins held in silence can make it a dreary one. But sharing them with trusted friends (who can truly celebrate and not be envious) makes it a more joyful experience.
I also love that you likened it to a journey rather than a destination. So true! The climb up the peak makes the vistas along the way even more soul-satisfying.
Thanks, Kat! This is all so true - you have to celebrate the wins, but at the same time, you can't live for them and love the journey.
Thanks for having me on today, WITS Wonder Women!
Congratulations, Christina, and thanks for sending out encouragement/perspective to the WITS faithful.
Thank you, Rick!
Brilliant blog. Way too many people let things they can't control dictate their moods, their relationships, their lives.
I'm soooo thrilled and proud that you finaled in the Daphne! I'll be cheering for you!
And -- I'm super excited about the Immersion Cruise. Only seven more months, and we'll be on our way to Jamaica!
Thank you, Margie! And....JAMAICA HERE WE COME!
Interesting how, just when all the air has come out of your tires, a win comes along and whooshes you back into flying mode.
[…] Read the rest of this post HERE. […]
Great post, Christina! Something I needed -- and need frequently -- to be reminded of. And congratulations on finaling!
Congratulations, Christina! I used to wallow in those low troughs, Christina. For far too long. Now I write, edit, learn, and write some more. It's all about the writing for me, so as long as I write, I'm fine. Oh, I'd be even finer with a Margie class at a castle or palace somewhere. France, Germany, Holland, Britain, Italy—my passport gets me into all those places!
[…] https://writersinthestormblog.com/2018/05/living-for-the-wins/ “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.” […]
I write because I need to quell the voices in my head--they're demanding their stories be told. 🙂 But, sometimes, I enter a contest to kick myself back in gear, force me to work steadily, and complete a project.
I just entered 10k words into a contest and have to finish the rest within 6 weeks in case they ask for the rest (wasn't mandatory, but my characters need their HEA). Nothing like a deadline to force one to write!
Christina, the unexpected win is exciting! And your words reaffirm your humility and thankful heart. I'm so happy for you!!!
I needed to read this tonight. Thank you for posting.