Taking Time Out to Smell the Pages

We writers are an interesting lot. Before our first work is published, it’s often all we can think about. And if it gets published, we’re so squeeful. That’s the adorable part about us.

Then something happens after we’re published. We tend to look around us, and watch how many other writers are out there, seemingly doing all the things. Suddenly, we’re less squeeful. Imposter syndrome hits, or just general feelings of inadequacy. And frankly, those “you must write every day, you whiny underachiever” posts don’t help either.

Our focus gets derailed.

So, we get busy, super busy, trying to meet new goals and challenge ourselves to be better than last year. (Challenges are good as long as you balance them with what works in your life.) We’re now a blur of fingertips on the keyboard, furiously trying to meet deadlines, trying to get more works published so we look like we’re worthy of being among other author humans.

Short stories, novels, anthologies get published, then we worry about marketing these multiple things. Did we call enough bookshops? Are we mentioning the books too often, not often enough? Why are the book reviewers not writing us back? Oh gosh, we need to get these works in readers’ TBR piles, even up to the top of the pile! We need to get out there!!!

Or is this just me?

Photo of me dressed as the Mad Hatter, then five books: Alice Unbound Beyond Wonderland, We Shall Be Monsters, Nothing Without Us, The Stealth Lovers, Life in the ’Cosm. And a figure of Captain Marvel and her "cat."

Last week, after a flurry of combating orders boinging around my brain, I spotted my reading copy of The Stealth Lovers. Just caught it from the corner of my eye, then faced it. The commands in my head stopped for just a moment, and I picked up the novel, running my hands on the glossy cover. All the feelings of what this story meant to me flooded through my mind. I opened the book and felt a dreamy sigh coming on. In those few minutes, I went back to that squeeful state of, “I wrote dis!”

Then I looked at the other anthologies my short stories have appeared in, and of course, the one anthology I recently co-edited, Nothing Without Us. Their appearance on my shelf reminded me of when people display trophies. These are my trophies. Their inscription says: You did a thing, even when you thought you couldn’t.

I really have to get back to that feeling of undiluted joy, people. Creating anything with words is so amazing. We’re actually transferring concepts from our heads into stories we can share with the world. Stories with our names attributed to them, stories that didn’t exist before.

That’s amazing.

It really is.

My wish is for all of you writers out there to get back to your adorable squeeful self, if you’ve forgotten to take time to smell the pages.

Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch
Cait Gordon

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate and the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When she’s not writing, Cait’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology in an attempt to take over the world. Narf.

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