My birthday was on Tuesday, and I received a special and unusual present in the mail: a contract from Highlights Magazine to purchase one of my short stories.
I have to say, I thought that when my first contract showed up for my fiction work--and from competitive Highlights, no less--I'd feel this tremendous validation. And hey, when I opened the letter, I definitely fist pumped the air. Yes!
I'm ashamed to admit how soon it took me to go from elation to "I can't believe I haven't finished the next scene in my novel, I have so much revision work to do, I wish I was a better, faster writer!!"
So here is a message to my internal editor: Look, you stupid internal editor, Highlights wants my fiction story. Say "congratulations," internal editor. I know it's killing you, but say it anyway.
I think many of us feel this way. If I get an agent, if I get a contract, I'll be a "real writer." Then the goal we work so hard to achieve happens, and we're like, huh, I have a lot work to do. In a way, it's a good thing that the work itself is our true validation. If we waited for encouragement from the publishing world to keep us going, we'd never get books written. The thing is, the story was just as good before I received the contract. I was simply fortunate that an editor liked it.
Thank you very much, Highlights, for liking my story. And thank you for teaching me a small lesson about motivation.