It’s The Little Things


All of us wish our work would win awards. The Hugo, the Nebula, the Phillip K Dick, the World Fantasy, the Campbell, Writers of the Future…they’re all prestigious and career boosters. Just being nominated for an award is huge, so winning is exponentially better. All of us wish our books would sell millions of copies and result in nationwide tours with hordes of fans lined up around the bookstore to see us. We don’t write for fame and fortune, but we can’t help wishing for just a little of it. It’s the same kind of hope we feel when we plunk down a dollar on a lottery ticket, knowing the chances are slim but hoping just the same. Fortunately it doesn’t take an award or a lottery win to lift a writer’s spirits.

When my book first hit shelves, my husband and I were searching for inexpensive ways to market it, and just for fun, we created a book trailer, starring many of my friends from the Renaissance faire (along with a number of good-sported strangers.) We used my digital camera’s movie function, and the budget was the cost of a memory card and a ticket to the faire. It was goofy and silly, but we promised ourselves it was only our first try. Once the video was ready, we posted it on the website and I sent it to my editor. Who promptly shared it with the whole office, playing it over and over for everyone who wandered in. I floated around on that for two days – everyone in the Tor offices was watching my cheap little book trailer! In the weeks prior to the book’s release, my editor sent me every blurb she received, as other authors read my book. Some amazing names said wonderful things, but I remember one in particular. My favorite short story is “The Spiral Dance”, by R Garcia y Robertson. Imagine my excitement when a blurb came in from that very author! To this day I sometimes look at that blurb when I’m doubting myself, just as a reminder that someone I admired so much thought my work was worthy.

Receiving acknowlegement from one’s professional peers is awesome, but it’s nothing compared to hearing from the readers themselves. I receive emails from people saying how much they loved the story, and how desperately they want to read more. One fellow even confided that he was in love with Kestrel. *laughs* Yesterday while I was waiting for my teenager to get his schedule and textbooks, a former student of mine approached me to say hello. She had read my book when it first came out, and decided she wanted to write a book herself. She’s nearly finished with her book, and is so proud and excited. I saw that look in her eyes, the look that writers get when the story’s nearly done and a new one is waiting. And that small thing was as satisfying to me as any award.

You don’t have to be a published author to have those moments. I want to hear about your little things.


12 comments to It’s The Little Things

  • Mikaela

    I can still remember it. I think it was two years ago or so. Two things happend at the same time: Faith had mini-workshop about character growth, I think. Or was it about summarizing the novel? I can’t remember exactly. I posted about the novella I was writing, and Faith said ( I am paraprasing now): You are taking something old, and giving it a new twist. That’s what editors are looking for. Roughly at the same time, Ilona Andrews had critiquing workshop on her blog, offering unpublished authors a chance to submit an opening paragraph.
    I submitted the opening paragraph. And she made encouraging noises, too!
    That really boosted my confidence! 😀
    Now, I just need to finish editing it, and submit it.

  • I can’t think of writing moment like that for me yet, but I’ve had several harking back to my college theater days. Even this many years later, I’ll run into people who saw one of the shows I directed and they’ll say how it touched them in one way or another. It’s a great feeling.

  • (laughs) Oh my. Misty, you gave me one of my best non-award moments when you told me a woman had named her child Miles Justin (a continuing character in my AKA’s (Gwen’s) Delande Saga.
    And recently, two people named pets after minor characters in the Jane Yellowrock series. We have Bruiser the rescued dog, and We Sa, the kitten. All that … is cool!

  • Deb S

    Somewhere, I still have a handwritten note from Big-time F/SF Editor regarding my first novel. She ultimately passed on the book, but she did say some nice things about my writing. I hung up the stone and chisel for a long time after that, but I always appreciated her words and her time.

  • I once wrote a fiction piece for an SF/F webcomic I love (one that the writer has sadly put on hiatus), and that was fun hearing the positive feedback from fellow readers. And I’m looking forward to October, when another webcomic artist is going to be transforming my script (for his SF/F universe) into a comic. (I hesitate to call these works “fanfics” because in both cases, they were creator-approved. I know it’s a sticky issue for some, but I just prefer to have the permission of the original creator.)

  • You’re right, Misty: it is the little things. A friend recently forwarded me a comment she encountered in the Beta group — something nice about one of my books. Had me flying for a week.

  • Funny you should mention this subject, because just earlier today, as I was searching/googling something related to IGMS, I stumbled across a blog post that absolutely raved about the relaunch of the magazine and the way I handled it. I’ll be smiling for several days.

  • Young_Writer

    A week or two ago, I was watching my brother’s practice. I was chattign wit ha few gathered kids and parents- nothing unusual. Until the directors were looking for a writer to record highlights. They would be published in the paper. The next thing I know, I have my first writing job! And when my friends all signed up to be beta readers. The first one gets her copy on Thursday. I can’t believe people are willign to wait for my work. It’s incredible.

  • I’d been telling my wife about how, back in high school, I had always wanted to write a novel (or three) but never got around to it. I have finally, after eighteen years, gotten that round “toit” I was looking for and now my wife is always asking when she can read even just a chapter. I think if my wife was the only person to ever read my book(s) I’d be the happiest man alive she is that supportive.

  • I recently submitted to a fairly well known fantasy magazine. While the editor ultimately turned my story down for perfectly understandable reasons, she did offer praise for many aspects of the story. This gave me a much needed boost in my writing self esteem.

  • Beatriz

    Someone who was in a new hire class last year caught me in the hall yesterday to tell me he just got promoted– and thanked me for everything I taught in class.

  • R.O. Kashmir

    My time in uniform gave me several really neat memories. Credit for helping save the UN humanitarian airlift into Sarjevo, pulling some covert national security programs butts out of the fire, insulting the French (that whole donut in the Embassy thing), sheparding the A-10’s through Desert Storm. Plus my current job offers the very rewarding chance to put airplanes in the sky to go save drowning people. But somehow it is those Panda awards and contest wins at PanHistoria that really make my day. There’s no money in those awards or even recognition outside the site. But it’s just so neat to have another member like something I wrote enough to make the nomination.