Make Gratitude Part of Your Writing Career

Radine Trees Nehring 3For more than twenty years, Radine Trees Nehring’s magazine features, essays, newspaper articles, and radio broadcasts have shared colorful stories about the people, places, events, and natural world near her Arkansas home.

In 2002, Radine’s first mystery novel, A VALLEY TO DIE FOR, was published and, in 2003 became a Macavity Award Nominee.  Since that time she has continued to earn writing awards as she enthralls her original fans and attracts new ones with her signature blend of down-home Arkansas sightseeing and cozy amateur sleuthing by active retirees Henry King and Carrie McCrite King.
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Though hardly an equivalent of soldiering, construction work, or high wire walking, a writing career is not for the faint of heart. We may not be tested physically, but stress and loss of sleep are not uncommon dangers. Self-doubt and frustration are also scary possibilities. Why does this happen when many non-writing humans, whether readers or not, still look at anyone claiming to be a writer with a degree of awe?

One truth we can’t avoid tells why. In few careers does success so totally depend on one person–one thinking mind. Even a leader, director, or president has supporting advisers to share any results of thinking and planning.

But the writer? Yes, we might blame the demands of our “other” job, current trends, editors, agents, publishers, book sellers, even the reading public for a lack of enthusiastic reception. No matter. We are smart people. We know, in spite of all our blaming, that the problem slides past everything else and lands, plop, right in our laps.

Then why do so many of us search out advice to writers, go to writers’ conferences, and then continue to write and submit? How can we keep hoping that somehow, some time, the words we write will reach a receptive audience and, glory be, our efforts will find validation?

I have decided it’s because of gratitude, recognized or not. If we are cultivating gratitude, that’s a huge boost to our thoughts about ourselves as authors. It cheers us, and spurs us on toward publication.

What are we grateful for?  Ummm., how about sentences? Annie Dillard, who certainly knows what she is talking about, asked a potential author, “Do you like sentences?”

The poor young person was amazed and, I suspect, stumped.

But you and I know about liking sentences. Sometimes, when I go back a few pages to edit I think, “Wow, that’s a wonderful sentence, so expressive. Did I really write that?” How about you? Oh, yes, you know!

Be grateful for sentences.

If you write non-fiction, do you believe in what you are sharing? Do you, perhaps, think it might help someone else?  What a good thing to be grateful for.

A Portrait to Die ForFiction? How about your characters? Do you like most of them? Do you see them as the right people in the right place at the right time? Are you eager to share them, their adventures, struggles and discoveries, with others? I enjoy spending time with my book people, and I think most other fiction authors do as well. Huge reason for gratitude. We aren’t asked to spend time with people who mean little to us. We like the people we have given birth to.

How about recognition?  It comes. Be grateful for every tiniest bit. “Oh my, I wish I could write.” “What do you write?” “Where do you get your ideas?” “Is your work for sale?”

I will never become wealthy as a writer. Very few of us do, but other compensations balance that. I often wear shirts with one of my book covers printed on the front. A couple of weeks ago I was walking through a restaurant and a women reached her hand out to me. “Are you Radine?” she asked, pointing to my shirt. When I acknowledged my name she said, “My husband and I love all your books. Is there going to be another one soon?”

Better than money in the bank?  You betcha, and a huge cause for a burst of gratitude.