It’s November, everybody! This is one of my favorite months of all time. There’s plenty of candy leftover from Halloween, fall is in full swing, and Thanksgiving promises a whole day full of delicious food, warmth, and fun. In my family, while we’re all too full to get up, we have a tradition where we go around the table and take turns talking about what we’re grateful for.
For the longest time, I considered myself a hopeful hobby writer. This year, though, I’ve claimed writing as my official career! When people ask me if I have a job, I say, “Yes! I’m an author,” and I don’t feel like an imposter. I’m finally on the road to becoming the sort of writer I’ve wanted to be for as long as I can remember, and now there are so many more things to be grateful for! This month I want to talk about a few of those things. Beyond that, I want to encourage you to think about things that you’re grateful for. I hope you enjoy this list!:
1. My amazing writing group.
I am a big fan of my comfort zone. It’s a beautiful place with hours of quiet and time for reflection and planning, where I don’t have to take any risks or feel afraid. Writing in that zone was occasionally fun, but not fulfilling. I wanted my work to go somewhere, so I shared it with my group. They immediately challenged my plot and characters, questioning me until I realized I had more work to do. So I rewrote my first chapter and submitted it again, determined to get this one bit perfect before moving on to chapter two. And they challenged me again! After going through this process a few times, they said, “Rachel, you have to move forward.” I didn’t want to, but eventually they convinced me that firsts drafts are meant to be crappy. They helped me to realize that crappy writing is really okay, and that each submission to the group won’t be used in public to prove I’m a terrible writer.
This one is a given, really, since I talk about them all the time in my posts, but I’m SO grateful I don’t have to write by myself, for myself. In high school I had friends I could share my stories and ideas with, and they were supportive and encouraging, but having a work-focused writing group pushes me forward in ways I never imagined.
2. Friends and family
Yes, I have the best writing group in the whole world, but my work would still not be as satisfying without all the supportive people in my life. When I was a child, my mom loved every weird, unfinished story I showed her, and she always encouraged me to keep going. Then I found friends who could write with me, making the whole process more fun. Now, there are people who beg to read what I’ve written when I tell them I’m a writer. All of these are my biggest fans, and I couldn’t keep going without knowing my work will be appreciated when it’s published.
My short story, “Starsworn,” is going to be published in Beyond Instinct on December 14th (hooray!). Did I love my manuscript before I sent it to Melissa Meibos? Yes. Did I think it was ready for publication? Nope. Not by any stretch of the imagination. She helped me polish my manuscript so I could be proud to see it on the shelf and hear that people read my work. Beyond making my story better, she also pointed out weaknesses in my writing that I’d never noticed before. My next story will be that much better because I’ll remember cutting out unnecessary dialogue and filling in setting details where they were missing.
4. My laptop
When I was younger, the idea was ingrained in my head that once you wrote your stories on a laptop you were the real deal. It may sound silly, but I feel more like a career writer while typing than I ever feel while writing in a notebook. Is that just me? Maybe. But this is my list, so I’m keeping it.
On top of making me a “real” author, my laptop also enables to me to attend my writing group online, and to share my work with them. If I had to write on paper for the rest of my life, all of my manuscripts would become an unintelligible mess, and I’m not sure I would ever have been published. Plus, paper doesn’t have autocorrect.
I’ve always been glad to have these around, but more so now than ever before. I’ve put my own figurative blood, sweat, and (less figurative) tears into a project to get it ready for publication, so I have a greater understanding of the amount of work and courage that goes into making books a reality. Each shelf is filled with thousands upon thousands of hours of drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading. It’s incredible!
Writing can be stressful and filled with discouragement. This is especially true during NaNoWriMo. But the more gratitude we show for what we have, the happier we will become. I’ve shared a few of the things I treasure about writing, and now I want you to share yours!
Put them in the comments for us to see, or put them on social media with #GratefulWriter so we can find them and celebrate those things with you.
Have a happy November, everyone!
Rachel White has lived in Utah all her life, and has been writing fiction nearly as long. “Starsworn” will be her debut published work, but as long as her husband, three children, and over-anxious dog cooperate, there will certainly be more to come. Be sure to watch for audiobook narration projects with her name on them!
We're all writers, we're all moms, writing our way through the "brambles" of life and our stories.