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Honoring the craft

September 28, 2012

What writer-type stuff do you want for Christmas (or your holiday of choice)? Let me know. We’re compiling a Holiday Gift Guide for publication in early December. 

Every year, the Royal Palm Literary Award banquet is bittersweet for me. It’s really cool to watch people who’ve achieved a level of success, published and unpublished authors both. It’s wonderful to see all the time they spent at a keyboard pay off. And for some of the unpublished work, there’s nothing like seeing them leave the conference with an agent who wants the manuscript. Even better, as sometimes happens, it’s amazing to see them leave with an agent in hand.

2011 Royal Palm Literary Award Winners

And then there’s the bitter part. Another freaking RPLA and I’m not ready yet to join in the fun and the payoff. If I didn’t have the intestinal fortitude made of pure steel, I might even get discouraged a little.

Them.

Them and their freaking success.

Fact is, they’ve earn their success. They’ve sat down, put the work in, gotten better, and finished the job. I haven’t. And that leads me to the next important word.

Yet.

I haven’t finished the job yet. But I’m one hell of a lot better writer than I was this time last year. And if I wrote what I was writing five years ago, I’d be embarrassed. How about you?

The 10,000 hour rule has come up a few times on this blog. It says that in order to be really good at something, you have to have done it for 10,000 hours. If anything, that might be low. Think of the best in the world at what they do. Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. Albert Pujols. Or, if you like, Stephen King, JK Rowling, and Janet Evanovich. They’re probably way north of 10,000 hours at it.

It’s work and repetition. But you can’t skip the steps of getting from here to there. I’m doing things with characters now that wouldn’t have dawned on me ten years ago, or even two years ago. I wasn’t ready to do those things back then. I’m ready now.

So rather than feeling a secret strain of juvenile envy, maybe I need to redouble my commitment to honoring the craft. Because it’s only through honoring the craft that you get better. And when you get better, you’re more likely to get the awards, agents, and maybe even a publishing deal.

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