The Effect of Recent Success: More Drive

If you’re a writer and you submit your work for publication with any sort of regularity, you’re probably pretty familiar with rejection. In fact, sometimes it feels like being a writer is synonymous with being really, really good at handling rejection. Our resiliency may make us seem like gluttons for punishment, constantly risking our art and our hearts only to be told it’s just not good enough–if not in kinder, more professional words. Fending off discouragement can be daunting, but if we’re lucky, our well-practiced resiliency allows us to persevere with a kind of cultivated optimism–that shoot- for-the-moon-even-if-you-miss-you’ll-land-among-the-stars hope we read on inspirational posters in our high school classrooms.

This spring, my perseverance paid off (as it does, every now and again–though not as often as I’d like). Typically, really exciting successes spread themselves out over rather vast expanses of time, but this spring, I experienced two back-to-back successes, one in March and one in April.

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I accept my award at the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association’s Annual Conference in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In March, I was thrilled when the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA), a professional writing group I recently joined, recognized my piece, “Rescued bird teaches lesson on where to find home,” originally published in The Richmond Times-Dispatch, with second place in the Outstanding Column category of the Excellence in Craft Contest. My parents and husband were able to celebrate with me on March 24, joining me at a lovely awards ceremony held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Charlottesville, Virginia, where we were treated to a delicious lunch and several writing and photography presentations.

On April 28, two of my close friends, my parents, and I (my husband had to work) made the trip to Somerset, Virginia, to savor the beautiful scenery at The Market at Grenlen, the perfect setting for the Poetry Society of Virginia‘s Annual Contest Award Ceremony and Poetry Reading. I was so excited for my poem, “Salem’s Indifferent Ox,” to receive second place in the Nancy Byrd category of the contest. I was honored to be given the opportunity to share my poem with fellow poets, winners, and their families and friends, as well as breathtakingly impressed by the other winners’ poems. It was truly an inspirational, enlightening event, and I will be thrilled if I am ever invited back again, not only because it will mean another of my poems will have been recognized, but also because it will expose me to the stellar work of some of the most talented poets in the state.

Salem’s Indifferent Ox

I’ve stood in my pasture watching for days

as the townsmen with hammers, they pounded,

until from the ground a wooden platform was raised

and the drumroll, through the village sounded.

Then they fetched me—how could I be involved

in this mysterious venture of theirs?

But I plod through the town, no question resolved,

Wondering at their strange mumbled prayers.

The wagon is heavy, my cargo, it weeps

with the people standing by in the crowd.

I watch as they climb the handcrafted steps,

clinging to dignity, proud.

Then they clutch at the ropes—tighter and tighter—

and on my way home, my cargo is lighter.

To view the reading of my poem on April 28, 2018, click here.

So, why am I telling you all this? Well, I’ll admit it’s in part because I’m proud and excited and I wanted to brag. I mean share. But it’s more so because these two consecutive successes with mere weeks between them had an unexpected effect on me. Instead of

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I read my second-place poem at the Poetry Society of Virginia’s Award Luncheon.

stopping at pride and ecstasy and validation, these two experiences made me feel like I can’t just sit back and rest on my laurels;  I have to keep going. Instead of just basking in the warm sunshine of success, I feel the need to pursue more opportunities to achieve it. I think the only achievement that might satiate my hunger for further writing success would be holding my two manuscripts after they have been reborn as books.  Yes, the pressure is on to continue to perform at this level–even though I know what I am really asking for is more rejection with a few successes sprinkled in between.

 

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Liebster Award Nomination!

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Each night when I go to bed, I list the things for which I am grateful as I fall asleep. Tonight, I know one of the first items on my list will be the fact that my blogging friend poison21, over at Four Square Miles of Noise, nominated my blog for a Liebster Award. I want to thank him for thinking of me, as well as congratulate him on his own nomination. Trust me when I tell you, it is well deserved.

(Fun fact: In case you don’t speak German, “Liebster” means “favorite.”)

The Official Rules of the Liebster Award

  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
  2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget.”
  3. Provide 10 random facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate five or more blogs that you feel deserve the award.
  5. List these rules in your post, modifying them (only slightly!) as necessary to meet your needs. Once you have written and published your post, you then have to:
  6. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster Award, and provide them with a link to your post. Don’t forget to create 10 questions, give or take, for them to answer. Notify your nominees and provide a link to your post so that they’ll know what to do.

Some random facts about me:

  1. I am over six feet tall.
  2. I have lived in Michigan, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
  3. During college, I was a DJ for Michigan State University’s student-run alternative/indie rock radio station, 88.9 FM the Impact, which won the Michigan Association of Broadcasters College Station of the Year Award while I worked there.
  4. I have run five half-marathons, and was once featured in an advertisement for the Runner’s World Half-Marathon Festival.
  5. When I lived in Wyoming, my family owned a total of six horses.
  6. I drive a six-speed stick shift.
  7. I love to eat, but not to cook.
  8. I never kill anything, ever. Not on purpose, anyway.
  9. I am a certified integrative wellness and life coach.
  10. I grow pineapple plants, and have a garden and small greenhouse.

Answers to the Questions:

While I prepared questions with the nominees in mind, I encourage, and would greatly appreciate,  guidance and feedback from the more well established bloggers.

  1. What generation were you born into? Which one do you most identify with? I think I am a Gen Y-er, but I am not 100% sure, to be honest. I haven’t given a whole lot of thought to what generation I most identify with. I don’t know much about the values, life experiences, perspectives, or attitudes about specific generations, so it’s hard to know.
  2. Which writers have influenced you? What genre are you most comfortable with? (Poetry, short stories, non-fiction?) This is another had one. I would say in my early years as a writer, maybe Laura Ingalls Wilder and Lucy Maud Montgomery. I remember having read something about an “alabaster brow” in one of the Anne of Avonlea books and immediately incorporating that into my writing. I also really identified with the family in all of Wilder’s Little House books, as well as with Montgomery’s Anne. More recently, perhaps Steinbeck and Hemingway, at least in terms of dialog. I love writing dialog, and Steinbeck and Hemingway have mastered it. Honestly, though, I’d say I probably lack a self-awareness of the influences on my writing.
  3. Who would write and perform your theme song? Why? Can I have a different theme song for each one of my moods? Or each phase of my life, at least? I’d have to figure out my theme before I could figure out my theme song, or anything about it, so I need more time for this one…
  4. Have you ever sold any of your work? I’ve been paid for a handful of poems and essays/articles, yes. I’d like to continue that, and increase its frequency and intensity.
  5. Name the accomplishment or act of kindness you are most proud of. What do you feel guilty about? I have a couple top-of-the-list accomplishments: running my five half-marathons, studying in Germany (in particular, passing the class the professor good-naturedly told me she originally had doubted I could pass), and every time my work is published. As for acts of kindness, I am particularly proud of my animal rescue habit. Whenever I see an injured or lost animal, I stop to help if I can. This summer alone, I was able to save two wild birds and a few turtles, and find a home for a puppy.  I also volunteered for a local no-kill animal shelter for about four and a half consecutive years. Unfortunately, I feel guilty about lots of things. Not going to church even when I can. Forgetting what my true priorities are. Being stubborn, prideful, and self-righteous. Not doing my best.
  6. What’s your favorite sport? What sport are you best at? I don’t really like watching sports, but if I have to, I’d prefer figure skating or something similarly artistic. I enjoy horseback riding, though I haven’t gone in years. I like to ice skate and swim. I’m a decent runner, with a few medals and trophies to my name. Though it’s been about 10 months since I’ve run a race, I still run on my own three to five days a week.
  7. Do you think all politicians are corrupt? What’s your take on Hillary and Trump being the finest the U.S. has to offer for President? Will you, or would you vote 3rd party? Do you think most Americans are out of touch with the rest of the world? Can I plead the 5th…? Let’s try to simplify this. No, I do not think all politicians are corrupt. I do not think Hillary or Trump are the finest, or if they are, we’re in trouble. Honestly, I cannot believe it has come to this. I am dumbfounded. I do not yet know where my vote will go. I do think that, in general, Americans are out of touch with the rest of the world, yes. I do not exclude myself from this judgement.
  8. Do you have a strategy for promoting and growing your blog followers? Do you link every post to social media? What type of blog most interests you? I wouldn’t say I really have a strategy. I follow other blogs when I discover those I enjoy. I post updates on Instagram and Facebook. As for blogs that interest me, my tastes are eclectic. I like blogs authored by people I actually know. I like blogs about animals, writing, travel, lifestyles…
  9. Do you usually comment on posts that you like? How important to you is direct interaction with fellow artists and bloggers? I do usually comment–or at a minimum “like”–posts that strike me if I get a chance. Direct interaction is very important to me. I find it encouraging on several levels. It encourages me to persist. It supports my faith in humanity. And it’s just fun! I feel good when someone comments on my work–so shouldn’t I pay it forward by trying to comment when I find something I find worthwhile?
  10. Do you sometimes post something you know is not up to your standards because you feel the need to keep your blog active, and to maximize your SEO? Does linking back to an earlier post accomplish the same thing? I have no idea what SEO stands for… Should I? I do sometimes post something that is not quite up to my standards, yes. I have never re-posted a post on the same blog, but I have linked back to earlier posts within a new post, if doing so is relevant.
  11. Are you a better baker or cook? I have no idea. I’m not a shining start at either. I’d prefer to just eat.

Here are my nominees:

While I prepared questions with the nominees in mind, I encourage, and would greatly appreciate,  guidance and feedback from the more well established bloggers.

  1. My Dear Yellow World–Visit this blog for a dose of positivity and spirituality.
  2. USA Through Our Eyes–I just discovered this blog and I love it. Maintained by a couple and their dog, and reminiscent of a more contemporary Travels with Charley, it features sounds, videos, photographs, and stories from around the country.
  3. Quintessential Editor–This blog provides so many excellent insights into the writing life, and the author is fun and witty.
  4. If Mermaids Wore Suspenders–This blog is quirky, creative, and musical.
  5. Coffee, Chocolate, and Writing–I mean, could this be bad? (Aside, of course, from the coffee.)
  6. Write. Revise. Repeat.–This encouraging blog about writing is genuine, insightful, and authored by my friend and fellow W.O.W Network blogger.

Finally, here are my questions for my nominees:

  1. What initially inspired you to begin blogging? What motivates you to continue?
  2. How did you decide on theme, subject matter, or topic for your blog?
  3. Do you maintain other blogs? If so, what are they?
  4. Aside from blogging, what are your hobbies?
  5. What are some milestones in your life you would expect yourself to remember, but do not?
  6. What are a few of your most cherished memories?
  7. What’s your favorite time of day and why? Favorite time of year and why?
  8. What is your existential philosophy? Are our lives fated? Destined? Coincidence?
  9. What is one goal you are currently working towards?
  10. What are some things you have done wrong? Right?

And now, I’m done–and off to notify my nominees!

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