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The Unpublished Words Count

My book has been out for four years. Last year was such a crazy one that I don’t even remember noticing my bookiversary. Then, it was such a shock to have made it out of 2020 and into 2021. It was a bit like the end of the waterslide, wasn’t it? When you speed up that last little bit or wing around that final turn and ploosh! get dunked into the pool and suddenly your nose is burning because you forgot to plug it. You’re caught in the whirl of competing jets, trying to remember which way is up, and hoping you’ve gotten yourself out of the path of any other slides. Except it wasn’t nearly that fun because 2020 was no water slide. 2020 is to humans what a water slide is to the wicked witch of the west.

So I was still floundering toward the surface in early February when a Facebook memory popped up about my book release. It felt impossible that it was four years ago. But it was true.

Then I felt really down because four or five years ago, happily preparing my first novel for publishing, I had big plans about publishing a book a year and short stories in between and blah blah naivety blah. (She was such a cute little optimistic thing, my former self.) But, I’m also not super proud of my present day self and the flagellation she gave me throughout the day. Maybe it hadn’t been realistic to plan for a book a year but something should have come forward in four years time! I felt useless and asked what on earth I’d been doing wrong professionally since 2017.

But I let it go and forgave myself. I’ve been trying to do more of that these days. I was determined to think of the future and what I was going to do to fix the problem rather than dwelling on mistakes. So, as I was going about my day thinking of the problem of the one lonely novel, I suddenly remembered that I was dead wrong.

Four years old this month!

I’ve written more than one novel. I written more than four. The Scarring Underneath was the third full length novel that I wrote. And I did two full rewrites of that one. I’ve written a novel since. I’ve started half a dozen more and I’ve written blog posts and short stories and poetry.

All of that counts.

The hundreds of thousands of words that may never be published count. The practice counts. The hours and hours of time at the keyboard count. The bits and pieces that may never fit into a work, the characters waiting for me to find their story – it all counts. My growth as a writer is so much more than the list of offerings on my Amazon author page. I can’t keep forgetting that the work behind the scenes is important. The life experiences that I’ve had may have slowed down my progress temporarily, but they will be a part of the story in some way someday.

If it counts for me, it counts for you. And it doesn’t only apply to writing. It can apply to painting, or embroidery, or photography. Don’t undervalue what you’ve done just because you haven’t sold it. You may have been busy with other things like a day job, raising kids, or surviving a pandemic. That’s okay. Because all those little moments when you practiced your craft count. So, whatever it is, keep it up. You’re further than you think.

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