The Final S-T-R-E-T-C-H of the Year
By Christina Katz
I’d say, “I cannot believe it’s time to wrap up 2007,” but, in fact, I can.
I can feel it in the number of times my fingers have hit the keys on my keyboard, in the ink cartridges my G2 pens have gone through, in the reams of paper I’ve recycled, in the number of e-mails I’ve sent and received, in the number of posts in my blogs, in the newsletters I’ve published and subscribed to, in the articles and press releases I’ve written, in the travel reservations I’ve confirmed, in the number of new people I’ve met, in the writing conferences I’ve enjoyed, and, finally, in the speaking and book signing events I’ve attended and organized.
At the beginning of 2007, I’d just turned in the final manuscript for Writer Mama and had spent the holidays requesting endorsements on a very short turn-around. I knew the steeplechase ahead of me as a newly published author was going to be a live-and-learn kind of experience. This was on my mind when I chose my keyword for the year, in response to a favorite blogger’s New Year challenge.
The word I chose was “Stretch.” And I spelled it like this: S-T-R-E-T-C-H, just to make sure I really got it.
On the stretchy front, my 2007 calendar did not disappoint. Whether it was my idea, my publicist’s idea, or a surprise invitation I received, my “dance card” from January through October was consistently full-to-overflowing. Frankly, I sometimes struggled to keep up with myself and with all of my professional obligations.
I even, out of absolute necessity, turned a few opportunities down or asked for better timing. Goodness knows how many opportunities I never heard about for a lack of time to explore the possibilities. A few times I over-committed and then had to back-pedal. And that’s how I learned that I sometimes needed to say, “Not now but maybe later.” Some people were flexible. Others may have chosen to be offended. What could I do? I’m a mom and a wife and a pet owner and a lot of other things as well as an author.
While juggling it all, I was aware that I could always take advantage of whatever opportunities I missed next time. And as a result, I was able (just barely) to keep up with my commitments and let it be good enough. As we all know perfection is unattainable but by consistently pushing myself, I grew. As I approach the end of this calendar year, I am not, professionally speaking, the same person I was when the year began.
And I feel pretty darn proud of myself. Writer Mama is still (as of this writing) on F+W’s top sellers for the year list and has been on it since it came out. My first royalty statement arrived and was totally respectable. Thousands of people now own Writer Mama and are clearly spreading their enthusiasm
They tell me (and I overhear) how much they appreciate the book as a writing instruction tool. They say it’s “a quick read” and that they go back to it or plan to return to it as a reference over and over again. They say, in short, that a book I wrote makes an encouraging companion along the writing road.
I wish I could put into words how gratifying it is to hear these kinds of comments from folks I’ve never met. I feel like readers really “get” the good intentions I poured into Writer Mama. And this is an incredibly satisfying feeling. What more could I ask for?
At the end of this very rich year, I want to share my gratitude and joy with all of you and wish you a strong sense of satisfaction for hard-won accomplishments you’ve achieved this past year (as well as the many years that led up to it). If I’ve learned one lesson this past year, it is this:
In writing for publication, you will reap precisely what you sow…and usually so much more. But you don’t get to coast. You have to hustle.
So thank you, readers. I know that Writers on the Rise subscribers and supporters have been a major force behind the success of my first published book. Many books actually fail, right out of the gate. Some never make it that far. I appreciate your readership. And I feel like now that Writer Mama has been successfully “planted” and is taking root, this is a natural time to let go a bit and switch my attention to the next book. And that’s exactly what I plan to do. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on what happens next.
Happy holidays, everyone!
Christina Katz is the author of Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (Writer’s Digest Books, March 2007). She is a featured presenter at the Writer’s Digest/BEA Writer’s Conference, The Whidbey Island Writers Association MFA Residency, and the Willamette Writers Conference. She’s been teaching writing-for-publication classes for six years and has appeared on Good Morning America. She is also publisher and editor of this e-zine and another called The Writer Mama. Christina blogs daily at http://www.thewritermama.wordpress.com/. For more about Writer Mama, visit Christina’s website at http://www.thewritermama.com/.