Last Friday, I found out the official release date of my debut. I was elated! I was ecstatic! My little manuscript was going to be a real book and I even knew the date that would happen! I also learned approximately when my cover will be released (soon!) and when advance reader copies might be ready. So many important things were going to happen, and I couldn’t have been happier!
The next day, these things still seemed big and exciting, but maybe a little too exciting. Maybe a little stressful. Maybe I had a mild anxiety attack as I thought of all the unknowns in the equation of publishing a book, and of all the things I probably should have done by this point but haven’t. I started wondering how I’m going to fit it all in with all my family and day-job responsibilities and some major changes that are going to happen this year for me, personally and professionally. There was too much to do, and I had no hope of getting it done.
But over the course of the day, three little gifts appeared that helped bring me back:
1. I finished Anne Lamott’s fabulous Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Lamott reminds us, again and again, that it is only necessary to give ourselves small assignments. This sparked a memory: When my mom set out with a friend to hike the Continental Divide, she saved the message she got in a fortune cookie early in the journey: “Little by little one can go a long way.”
2. I decided the small task I could manage at that moment was writing in my journal. (I keep just a small, line-a-day journal and often end up catching up on weekends.) As I looked through the entries from years past, I was so comforted to find that all the things I’d worried about had turned out okay. Not always as I had hoped, and certainly not without hard days or sad days, but things worked out. And I imagine that’s exactly what I’ll say when I look back at the entries for 2016.
3. I was reading Sharon M. Draper’s beautiful Stella by Starlight and came across this passage:
Stella felt a little befuddled. “Seems like I can never find the big picture, Papa.”
“If it makes you feel any better, grown-ups often ain’t got the slightest idea what they’re doing either!” her father said, putting his arm around her shoulders. “We just figure it out one day at a time.”
I still feel anxious as I write this, but it’s better. I’ll probably need to return to these ideas often, and turn to friends and family who are incredibly generous and willing to help. Right now, in this moment, I have all kinds of faith that everything will turn out just fine, as long as I take it
bird by bird
little by little
one line a day
one day at a time.
Elaine Vickers is the author of LIKE MAGIC (HarperCollins, 2016) and loves writing middle grade and chapter books when she’s not teaching college chemistry or hanging out with her fabulous family. She’s a member of SCBWI and represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of EMLA. You can find her at elainevickers.com on the web, @ElaineBVickers on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, or generally anywhere there are books and/or food for her consumption. 🙂
3 thoughts on “One Day at a Time”
Congratulations! How exciting about your release! for you. Your post is very inspiring. I share your fears. I've also read Bird by Bird and found encouragement in her words. I'm embarking on a new venture this year – a writer retreat here in the Riviera Maya. Thankfully, I have another writer here I'm doing it with but I get pangs of anxiety every now and then. But just as you've done, I look in my past and have never disappointed myself, and I will not disappoint those attending my retreat.
Those stressful feeling will never go away, I'm afraid. But you've got the right formula…one day at a time.
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