For The Writer Who Makes A Wish List

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
It’s the time of year for wish lists, right? And maybe you have a whole slew of great writer gifts on your wish list (and I hope you get ‘em!). But I’m not talking about that kind of wish list. I’m talking about the list you drew up in the beginning of the year, way back in January when 2012 was sparkly and new and you wished for…well, what did you wish for?

A publishing contract? An agent? Maybe a couple acceptances from those magazines and ezines you've been querying?

Whatever your writer’s heart desired, you may have written it all down on a nifty, highly organized list. That’s what I do. And in December, I pull out my list to see how I've done.

So, friends, there’s good news and bad news when it comes to making a list. The good news is that you have this nifty, highly organized list of everything you hoped to achieve in 2012. Everything you wanted to accomplish is right there, conveniently spelled out in black and white (though I’m partial to colored ink pens, so for me, teal and white). And look! You can check off this hope, this dream, this wish! Whee!

But now you must face the bad news. Because there is also everything you wanted to accomplish and didn't, conveniently spelled out in black (or teal) and white.

So checking the list twice is not always a fun activity. In fact, it can be a rather depressing activity. Fortunately, I have a cheer-myself-up activity: I read W. B. Yeat’s poem, To A Friend Whose Work Has Come To Nothing. (Yes, I know it doesn't sound cheery right now, but bear with me. It gets better.)

Now, I have no idea who William’s friend was who needed a boost; it’s likely that this poem was meant to cheer a comrade in a political context. But I've always thought it would work well for those of us in the arts. I know this poem always makes me feel better, especially the last bit: Be secret and exult, because of all things known that is most difficult.

I do exult, eventually, in spite of failures. I know that though long, hair-pulling hours at the keyboard may not be rewarded today, they will bear fruit someday. I know that if I keep pushing myself, and keep making those lists, and checking off the small successes, at some point, the bigger successes will come. I believe that persistence pays off, even if now, it appears my work has come to nothing.

So check your list. And don’t cry or pout. Be secret and exult, friends. You will succeed, as long as you keep working at your writing.

~Cathy C. Hall


BECKY said...

Gee, I can't believe it's REALLY that time of year again! I started out 2012, with daily free-writing every morning. THAT lasted about a month or two, which was actually pretty good considering my track record. And I didn't submit as many stories to anthologies or contests as I'd hoped, but I final accomplished The Next Big Thing....My memoir! :)
Did my huge exhale just blow you off your chair??
(and Ms.Cathy C., I love to write things down in a nifty notebook, with the "just right" pen/pencil, too!)

Anonymous said...

As Thomas Edison said,"I am not discouraged because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward."

I agree. I'm not sure how productive it is to reevaluate goals if, ultimately, it feels like a loser list instead of a motivation incentive. I also am a firm believer that sometimes doors open or close for reasons we may not yet see.

BECKY said...

Awwww, thanks Cathy C!...but how embarrassing for me...A TYPO! I meant to type "...but I finally accomplished..." NOT "final" duh...

Sioux Roslawski said...

Cathy--Great advice, as always. Yes, exalt. Persevere. Keep plugging away. Recover, and continue...

Angela Ackerman said...

Great post!

Always forward--everything we do is a step in the right direction, so we need to focus on that, not what we didn't accomplish.

My husband is a business consultant and he helped Becca and I build a business plan for this coming year. I feel really good knowing we have a firm plan in place. He suggested something important--to have all out goals listed on a paper and keep it by the computer on the wall. That way, everything we do we can look at out list and see if it aligns with one of our main goals or takes time away from it. I think this will help me be more productive in 2013.

I hope everyone here at WOW has a wonderful holiday season! :)

Angela Ackerman

Lynn said...

Great post... never give up!

danicapage said...

Thanks for sharing that poem. I love that.

Unknown said...

Be secret and exult...I taped this on my desk!

Angela Mackintosh said...

I think it's also important to evaluate WHY that particular goal didn't get accomplished. Many times we outgrow our goals or they change along the way. I believe there's a reason for everything and, instead of feeling like a loser, we need to embrace the reason and figure out a better solution.

I have a huge graphic design project sitting on my desk that I didn't get accomplished this year and I'm pretty bummed out because I feel like I've let some people down. It's still on my To Do list, but I realized that it didn't happen for a number of reasons:
- I was taking on too much. So I decided to scale back on some work and focus on this project because it's important, and I can't do everything! (unfortunately)
- I didn't have the right tools. So instead of struggling through the project with outdated programs, I saved up and bought a new computer and creative suite.
- There's a huge learning curve. I'm taking a class to learn more about the software. And I'm going to contract help when I figure out exactly what I need.

The main thing is not to beat yourself up about it and definitely celebrate each small success and step forward. Here's to 2013 and new beginnings! :)

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