Ahhh… Accountability. The state of being accountable. Liable. Answerable.
No matter which aspect in our lives we’re looking at, we’re all accountable to someone. And how we handle ourselves in response to the many demands accountability dumps on us is part of what defines us as individuals.
Today I wanted to look at one of the many areas of accountability in a writer’s life.
Waking everyone up in the morning, prepping lunches for school/work, getting dinner on the table at six, running the household errands day after day… this just a sampling of the variety of tasks our family holds us accountable for on daily basis. But since we also wear the Author Hat, guess what else we’re accountable for?
Movement in our writing careers.
Whether the movement is finishing a novel that may never sit on a shelf in your local Barnes and Noble, or winning a writing contest, or starting the dreaded query process, or signing with an agent, etc…. We are accountable to our family to show some kind of movement in our journey to publishing success. After all, we are taking time away from them to play with write the stories in our heads into existence.
So what happens if a year goes by—or two or three or four or five—and we’re not seeing the movement the family would like? Or, more to the point, the movement we desperately want?
Sure, it’s easy to stress over the absence of advancement in our writing career. We’re the ones pouring our heart and souls into these books and characters and spending all this time away from the family in order to make our dream come true.
But you know what? I truly believe that just because we’re not seeing the movement we want doesn’t mean we’re not making strides in our writing career. A completely written and polished novel? A step forward. A queried novel that was rejected 20+ times? A step forward. These small accomplishments may not seem like much, but they are! And accomplishments, no matter how small or large, deserve a treat, don’t you think? *breaks out the chocolate and confetti*
Involve the Family
Sometimes simply talking about the writing process with our family shows them that we know we’re accountable to them. And many times we don’t even have to bring the topic up to them because they’ll ask us.
Husband/Wife/Mom/Dad/Sibling: “How’s the book coming along?”
Answer: “Well, I didn’t get any action off the queries I sent, so it looks like it’s just not the right time for that novel. I’m going to move forward and start plotting a new one this weekend.”
From there the questions can vary, but most times we’ll get asked why no one was interested in our novel, is it our writing, is it the agents. This opens a fantastic window to share the world of publishing and the many facets of perfect timing that we usually need to happen in order to take a leap forward (right story meets the right agent at the right time…right?). Once they understand a small portion of the pubbing industry, their need of seeing movement in our career is usually temporarily satisfied.
Be Open with the Family
Tell your family what’s going on. Especially the husband/wife. We can make them our sounding board for our frustrations. Just the simple act of sharing our angst over character difficulties, the excitement over a new story idea, the giddiness over an exceptional plot twist we just wrote… All of these satisfy a bit of the accountability we have to our families.
The only downside, obviously, is that we can’t control everything, can we? We can’t make the publishing world see the golden nugget that is our novel. We can’t force an agent to concentrate 100% of their attention on our query and opening pages. We can’t Professor X an editor at a NY publishing house to offer us the four-book deal we’ve dreamed of.
All we can do is our personal best. Learning the craft, utilizing what we’ve learned, writing the best novels and queries and blurbs possible. All of these are in our control. And all of these are how we are accountable to our families.
We need to put our best idea forward and go as far up the road to publishing as we can with that idea. If we do that, we’re not letting the family down whatsoever. And because they’re our family, they will be proud of us no matter what!
What do you think? How else are we accountable to our family? Do you have any other tips to share?