When Success Doesn’t Look Like Your Writing Dream

When Success Doesn’t Look Like Your Writing Dream

by Kimberly Mitchell/@KSMitch17

2014 was a tough year for me as a writer. I had a manuscript I had a lot of confidence in and delivered it to my agent early in the year. She loved it and immediately sent it out. I felt like I was walking around with my fingers crossed for months, waiting for an offer. And waiting. And waiting. And then rejections and more waiting.

Writers know we’ll encounter rejection. We know it’s all part of the process of honing our craft, paying our dues on that hard road to publication. We also know that the knowing doesn’t make rejection easier. I felt my desire to write slipping away. The current manuscript I was working on languished in murky middle ground and the ending lacked focus.

Come to think of it, I felt on murky middle ground and lacking in focus.

Towards the end of 2014, I had lunch with a good friend, who also happens to be a local social media influencer. She encouraged me to get more involved in the local writing community, especially with a group called Arkansas Women Bloggers. She didn’t tell me to stop focusing on writing for children; she simply asked me to lift my head a little from the narrow race I’d been running and have a look around.

I decided she was right. I needed a change, or I was in peril of not writing at all. When I set my goals for 2015, they looked quite different from the previous year. Typically, my yearly goals look like this:

1) Outline X novel

2) Finish revising Y novel

3) Come up with storyline for Z.

If I feel ambitious, I might add, read a book on writing.

This year, in addition to working on my novel, I would commit to maintaining my blog by posting at least once a week. This doesn’t sound like much, but if you’ve ever run a blog, you know it’s hard to maintain momentum. I also committed to look for other blogs where I could guest post, and local blogs or magazines I could pitch articles to. I even set a day and time – every Monday afternoon would be dedicated to these ventures.

Two-thirds of the way through the year, I’m proud to say I’ve far exceeded my own expectations. I’ve had the privilege of guest posting for Latin@s in Kidlit, All the Way YA, and Pine Manor College. I’ve also blogged professionally for a few local companies and gotten paid for those posts.

What? You mean writers can actually make money writing and blogging?

I’m currently pitching a few more ideas to my network of bloggers and letting a few others simmer. In one way, I’m more excited about writing than I’ve ever been. My personal blog isn’t going to break any hit records, but I’ve been more consistent and the stats back that up. This week I even signed a contract with an awesome local non-profit to be a blogging ambassador for them for the next year. A contact I made, incidentally, by attending a local chamber meet and greet. It turns out, networking does work.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, though. That manuscript I was going to revise in the first few months of 2015? I’m still slogging through it. That first draft of the new middle grade story I was going to knock out this summer? I’m on page 20.

I still only have 24 hours in my day, and let’s be real, 8 of those are for sleeping. I teach, partner a marriage, stay involved with friends and family. Something has to give, and for now, it’s the amount of time I spend on my middle grade novels – my first love, the reason I always wanted to be a writer.

It’s an uneasy balance, but finding another writing outlet that has drawn me into a supportive community locally and brought in a little extra income is hard to beat.

So for the next four months, I’ll continue to walk out my goals for 2015, starting at the end of this month by attending the Arkansas Women Bloggers Conference for the first time. I’ll pursue blogging personally and professionally, and I’ll work on my own stories, knowing that for a season, my time with my children’s novels will diminish a little.

I’m not going to lie. A little success feels good, even if it’s not the success I expected or hoped for.

And my dream of being a published children’s author? That dream lives on for another day.

Kimberly Mitchell is pursuing writing and life in Northwest Arkansas. When she’s not writing and blogging, or teaching preschool fitness, she’s cheering on the Razorbacks, playing soccer, and scheming ways to travel the world. Follow her on Twitter @KSMitch17 and check out her blog for updates on all of the above.

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