At the end of December, I finished Loving Beatrice, my second book in the Shakespeare's Women Speak series, and sent it off to my publisher.
For some reason -- for many reasons -- I struggled to write this second book. Writers often talk about the sophomore slump: how writing the next novel, after you've gotten one published, is really, really hard. I thought the notion was ridiculous... until it happened to me.
I had always assumed that once I was published, the sheer joy of that notion would infuse my writing life with passion. Instead, the idea that people were waiting on this book -- real people, publishing people, readers -- nearly paralyzed me. For a long time, I could not write. I tinkered, I researched, I fidgeted, I pretended, but I didn't produce anything of substance. I, who had long prided myself on never getting "blocked" -- I could not write.
And so, finishing this book is what success looks like to me right now.
Overcoming the almost stultifying fear that I could not write another novel at a level I think is good enough for publication: that's success.
Reminding myself that, in fact, I did have processes in place to accomplish this task: that's success.
Rediscovering my main character's voice: that's success.
Remembering that, no, I do not have to write linearly and that when I sat for nearly SIX MONTHS in one scene, that was a really stupid thing to do and wasted a lot of time that could have been better spent writing other scenes and THAT'S a mistake I'll never make again: SUCCESS!
Figuring out that setting unrealistic deadlines and then beating yourself up when you don't reach them and then wallowing in guilt is a bad idea: that's success
Deciding to cheer yourself on when you make progress, even if it's only a hundred words or a bit of planning: also success
Jumping with glee right into the next novel within a couple of weeks after sending off the last one, feeling energized and ready to go, with a mountain of emotional baggage lifted from your shoulders...
Well, yeah. All of that is how I define success right about now.