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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Celebrate Good Times… COME ON, LET’S CELEBRATE!


****** I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because I have an engineering ******
degree and shouldn't be trusted with spelling or punctuation.


********
 I recently read a great blog post by Delilah Dawson. 25 Steps to Being A traditionally Published Author: Lazy Bastard Edition.   Step 6 is OH MY GOD YOU FINISHED A BOOK! FIRE THE CUPCAKE CANNONS! This is great advice, even if you don’t have a cupcake cannon.

So I started thinking about celebrations. What steps in publishing and in an author’s career deserve bubbly drinks and imported dark chocolate? Here’s a handy guide (according to this mostly-struggling author) to the top 10 things all writers should celebrate.


1 - YOU'VE DECIDED TO BE A WRITER

Celebrate With:  ONE CUP OF COFFEE (from home or a cheap vending machine)
Perhaps you bought that first Moleskin notebook or a new Montblanc. You’re getting close, but you probably know a dozen people who plan to write a book someday. Your spouse, your hairdresser, your neighbor, most people nearing retirement age. Declaring that you are a writer only gets you a cup of joe, which you were probably going to have any way. We need words!

2 - YOU'VE DECIDED TO BE A WRITER AND YOU'VE PUT PEN TO PAPER

Celebrate With:  ONE CUP OF GOOD COFFEE (from fancy coffee shop where they write your name on the cup)
If you are old fashioned and writing long hand, and have jotted the title down and maybe a paragraph or two, then spend the five dollars for the gourmet coffee.  If you’ve started a new word document and typed more than your name, go buy that mocha latte. You’ve earned it (kind of).

3 - YOU'VE WRITTEN 100 PAGES**

Celebrate With:  PIZZA (and you alone get to choose the toppings)
If you’ve passed the 100 page mark—and it can even be double spaced—you are a writer. You have 100 pages to prove it. Don’t worry that you’re likely to cut 60% of those words. Order a gluten-free, shiitake mushroom and goat cheese pizza. Then get back to the keyboard. This is also a good time to back up your work.

4 - YOU'VE THROWN OUT YOUR FIRST ATTEMPT AT A NOVEL**

Celebrate With:  DRINK OF CHOICE (alcohol is acceptable at this point)
You’ve realized that you don’t want to write hard boiled detective novels. You are a regency romance kind of guy. Congratulations on this self-discovery.  Cheers. Enjoy your beverage. Now go back to step one.

5 - YOU'VE FINISHED A NOVEL**

Celebrate With:  CELEBRATORY DINNER (not cooked by you)
Remember step one, only about .00001% of people who start step 1 get to step 5. This is a big stinking deal. Go to your favorite restaurant. Order drinks, appetizer, salad, soup, entrée, and three desserts. You’ve earned it! The hard part is done (this is a lie). You are well on your way to fame and fortune (another lie). You’ve accomplished something many only dream of (total truth).

6 – YOU'VE REWRITTEN, EDITED, POLISHED YOUR NOVEL (or Picture Book) TO PERFECTION

Celebrate With:  CHOCOLATE AND A BOTTLE OF SOMETHING DELICIOUS
If it’s been at least a month since step 5 and you’ve completed step 6, it’s time for another smaller celebration. Why is it smaller when it really is a BIG deal? Because when you tell your mom or your co-worker, “I finished my novel,” they will reply with “You’ve written another book?” You will try to explain that you’ve been pounding M&M’s and toiling over your manuscript to make it the best you can and she will smile and tilt her head and not understanding why you didn’t just write it correctly the first time (and she’ll also notice you’ve put on a few pounds). Only an author who has made it to step 6 will understand your accomplishment.

7 – YOU'VE RECEIVED YOUR FIRST REJECTION LETTER

Celebrate With:  A MILKSHAKE (or something else calorically sinful)
Congratulations on sending out that first batch of query letters. In this modern age of e-mail, you may have received your first rejection an hour later. Time to celebrate with a pity milkshake. I personally like Starbuck’s Mocha Cookie Frappuccino Drink. I think it has as many calories as 3 Big Macs and a tub of movie popcorn.  I was allowing myself 1 per day per rejection, but that was a bad idea. So take my word for it, only celebrate the first with a sugary drink and celebrate the rest with Pilates.

8 – YOU HAVE AN AGENT

Celebrate With:  DRINKS OUT (where you get dressed up and say in your best Hollywood-esque voice “I spoke with my agent today.”)
It may have been a week since step 7 or years. Either way, congratulations. Enjoy the validation. But beware, while you are over the moon (and should be) your non-writing family and friends will be confused. They’ll say, “Great, when will the book be out?” And they will probably assume that an editor and agent are the same thing. And if you explain an agent’s role, they will think that you are crazy for ‘giving away’ your money.

9 – YOU HAVE A BOOK CONTRACT

Celebrate With:  GO ALL VALENTINE’S DAY ON YOUR BAD SELF
This is the moment you’ve been working toward for months (I loathe you!) or years (I understand you!) or decades (I’m inspired by you!) Unfortunately, it’s not really a single moment. Moment 1 - your agent called you about an offer. Moment 2 (a few days later) – you spoke with the editor and hit it off. Moment 3 (a few more days later) – you’ve received a contract and signed it. Moment 4 (a few weeks later) – you’ve received your copy of the contract with the editors signature on it. Moment 5 (weeks? months?) – you’ve received a portion royalty check.  So pick your moment and celebrate with flowers, candy, dinner, and jewelry. Definitely jewelry! The rest fades away.

10 – YOUR BOOK IS RELEASED
Celebrate With:  BOOK RELEASE PARTY WITH CAKE
My step 10 is still about a month away (October 1st). I don’t know exactly how or where I’ll celebrate, but there will be cake. And the next day, there will be exercise.

**Sorry picture book writers, there are a lot of steps that don’t pertain to us. If you’ve written 100 pages of a picture book, I’m sorry doll, you don’t understand the form. (According to the latest trends, if you’ve written over 750 words, you don’t understand the form.) Giving up or throwing out a picture book is par for the course. And completing a picture book is still difficult but (hopefully!) doesn’t take nearly the time it does to complete a novel. So to make it fair, I have an alternate step 5 for picture book writers.

5 - YOU'VE FINISHED 5 PICTURE BOOKS 
Celebrate With:  CELEBRATORY DINNER (not cooked by you)
If everyone you know wants to write a novel, then everyone and their uncles want to write a picture book. It’s easy, right? A picture book is about the same length as a dozen tweets. But if you’ve actually written 5 stories with a clear beginning, middle, and end that has charming characters, amusing dialogue, and a whole world a child would enjoy (and this is all done in less than 1000 words—don’t worry you’ll trim later), then you are a picture book author. Celebrate, and then move on to the hard part. Step 6.

8 comments:

  1. what a fun post to read! I at Step 5, don't have 5 strong PBs yet.

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  2. This is great, Stacy! I love #8 in particular. No agent for me (yet) but you're on the money about explaining what one is to family!

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  3. This is hilarious! Hope it goes viral :)

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  4. I love this post, and congratulations on making it (almost) to step 10. I am inspired by you! :)

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  5. I'm gonna have to backtrack and get myself some goodies! Thanks for such a fun post, Stacy!

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  6. THIS! Step #5: The hard part is done (this is a lie). You are well on your way to fame and fortune (another lie). You’ve accomplished something many only dream of (total truth)... LOL! Best wishes with the book launch. You deserve a triple-decker cake (at least).

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