My manager was asking about my book earlier today (I think I've already mentioned how great she is). So I told her about it being a sci-fi book for teenagers. Then she remembered about a teacher she'd worked with in the past who writes YA who had just been published.
So we googled him (http://www.jamesdawsonbooks.com/) and read the blurb of his book (which is about witches) and I said, "The first book I wrote was about witches but it was really awful."
And then I stopped. Because I realised what I'd said.
"The first book I wrote..."
I've never said that out loud. And in doing so, I realised something. I've only ever thought of that book in terms of it being "really awful". In fact, I've been so caught up in the awfulness of it, I've completely disregarded it.
But what that awful first book is -- far more than being "awful" -- is a massive accomplishment.
It was the point where I went from saying "I'd love to write a book one day," to saying "I've written a book".
It was the point where I learned that I had both the drive and the perseverance to start a project and see it through to the end.
It was the point where I learned what "awful" meant and what I needed to do to avoid "awful" in the future!
And it wasn't until I was speaking to someone who hadn't written and book and had no desire to write one that I was able to see what I had accomplished.
I don't want to talk for everyone, but a lot of us seem hard-wired to focus on our short-comings rather than our achievements. I wonder if it's something to do with comparisons. When we surround ourselves with people who are at the top of their game, it's easy to see how far we have to go. "The more you know the more you know you don't know" as they say. I wonder, too, if it's because writing a novel is such a long, massive task. So much work goes into it that the end isn't in sight for a long, long time. And for me, I know that once I get to the end, there's a whole new load of things to learn because I'll have the query letter to write and the agents to research. And before even that I have to get over my fear of betas!
Maybe we could all benefit from taking a step back and taking stock of what we've accomplished. Even if it's just a chapter or a page or even just a plot, it's one step closer to our ultimate goal. If I hadn't had that awful first book, I would never be where I am now.
So let's congratulate ourselves today on what we've achieved, rather than focusing on how far we still have to go.
PS - Since you're wondering, I managed to write 15,000 rage-fuelled words over the weekend!