Monday, June 25, 2012

Days You Feel Like the Real Deal

A couple weeks back, I got three acceptance letters in one day. I felt like the real deal, like I am actually a writer.

Now, I know I am actually a writer, because I actually sit down every day and write. That's what's important, and that's what I try to focus on, but the unfortunate fact remains that external validation every now and then feels pretty nice. Checks are nice. Seeing evidence that someone read something of mine is nice. Feeling like the real deal is nice.

I'm pretty sure I could be rich as J.K. Rowling and still doubt whether I was the real deal. It doesn't seem logical that way. Writing can sometimes be one big mood swing. Three acceptances in one day can get me floating high, and then the next day I can decide that my business plan will never work and start wondering why I haven't given up by now.

I had a funny moment years ago reading Writer's Market. That book used to have articles featuring descriptions of "My First Sale." A guy described his first sale as a stringer to a newspaper. At the time, I worked on staff at a newspaper that sounded just like the one he described. I didn't consider myself a real writer, and yet there he was talking about how excited he was to write one article for a place like that -- and there I was writing four or five a week. I had a real deal moment then, too, but it also put things in perspective.

As long as I have goals, I will always exist on a spectrum, where there are things I have done and things I haven't. If I ever really feel like I have arrived, like I'm the permanent real deal with no doubt whatsoever, that means I have no goals left and should probably retire.

That said, I like going to bookstores and seeing Cleis collections that include me on the shelves. I like getting three acceptance letters in one day. I don't mind feeling like the real deal for a minute, I just try not to let it go to my head.


  1. I completely get what you're saying. I think a lot of writers just don't have time to be "the real deal" in the face of more pressing matters like family and day jobs and appointments and so on. I could write more, but I wouldn't have much of a life if I did. Those little moments definitely make up for it.

    1. Thanks for the comment! I think we all have to find our own "real deal." There's always someone doing more and always someone doing less.

      Because it's so hard and there are so many things you have to balance, it's also easy to feel like you're not "the real deal" unless you wake up every day at 3 a.m. to write. I think that's really a problem, too.

      You're right that one has to find a comfortable amount of work to do and be satisfied with it.