Looking Forward By Looking Back — Jill James

Looking Forward by Looking Back   by Jill James
(article first published in Black Diamond RWA Chapter newsletter 2010, updated for blog 2012)

Sometimes it seems in the writing world everyone is looking forward. Deadlines for manuscripts written, asking what your next project will be, asking where you want to be in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years. We are trained to say, “When I get published, not if I get published”. Always looking forward to the prize on the horizon.

I use the end of the year as a time to look back and see what I’ve accomplished, not only this year, but every year I’ve been seriously writing.

Day by day, if we are serious about our craft, we will see improvement. But, will we recognize how far we have come if we don’t take time to look back at our beginnings? I’m sure everyone has heard a writer, maybe even you yourself, talk about that first awful manuscript, the one gathering dust bunnies under the bed, or languishing on a hard drive never to be seen. Or in my case, on floppies I’m unable to read, sits Passion’s Price. LOL The question to ask is, are they really that bad and are you brave enough to dig them out and compare to today’s work?

Recently, I did just that. I dug out the twelve years-old children’s story I wrote for my son’s then-2nd grade class.  “The Story of Sammy Bootlebutt”.  I wrote and illustrated a story of Sammy the frog finding his place in the world. Even though my RWA chaptermates’s comments were encouraging and they liked it, that wasn’t why I dragged it out of the closet. I wanted to show myself just how far I’ve come. Sammy is an okay story, but simple. It was fun to write, but so are my stories I write today. Everything I’ve learned along the way goes into each and every story I write.

All the classes, workshops, critiques, and conferences add up to where my writing is today. I’ve learned POV, GMC, layering, subtext, using back story to build character’s, being organized, how to plot, using astrology for characters, world-building, treating this as a business, and a dozen more workshops I’m sure I forgot. Today, I can add formatting, self-editing, what I do and do not want in cover art, and uploading to vendors. Learning from the self-published who came before me, reading Indies to see what is out there, and studying covers to see what works and what doesn’t, and a dozen more things I’m sure I learned.

So, I “look forward” to where I want my writing to be in the future by “looking back” to today so I can marvel how far I’ve come.

So, as I look back at year’s end I see a year ago I had one small-press published book that had sold 57 copies in almost a year. I had one self-published novella that was starting to take off. I might be sad at that if I couldn’t compare it to this year and what I’ve accomplished. I have one small-press published book that is doing well by being an excerpt in the back of my Indie books. I have 3 novellas and 1 book bundle of the novellas, which will be in print (hopefully) by New Year’s, and a full-length paranormal novel in eBook and print.

Now, I might be sad at my numbers this year if I hadn’t looked back and seen just how far I’ve come in a year.

So, look back and tell us, what have you accomplished this year?

Jill James, author of contemporary and paranormal romance

LakeWillowbeeTrilogy 200x300The Lake Willowbee Series Books 1 – 3
Available in eBook and soon in print.

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About Jill James

Jill is a published author with The Wild Rose Press and self-published with The Lake Willowbee Series. She enjoys reading just as much as writing. You can follow her on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/Jill.James.author and Twitter @jill_james
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18 Responses to Looking Forward By Looking Back — Jill James

  1. lynncahoon says:

    I really love this time of year. I’m drained, exhausted, and, sometimes, wordless. But when I look back at what I’ve accomplished, it makes me energized for 2013.

    Like

  2. Tori Scott says:

    Jill, I have a manuscript on an unreadable disk too. Oh, how I wish I could get to it. It would take a ton of revision to make it worth publishing, but I think–20 years later–that it was a half-way decent story. But as I look back on the past year, I’m still amazed. A year ago I had just quit the 70 hour a week day job based on one month of decent sales. Talk about a leap of faith. But we’ve made it a whole year now without having to go back to work, I’ve published five more titles, and I have real fans clamoring for more. I’m excited to see what 2013 will bring.

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  3. Jill, this was exactly the reminder I needed. I publishied 2 books in 2012, that’s 2 more than I ever did before in my life. So, as I struggle with the day job, finalizing the publishing of the 3rd work, and start to feel overwhelmed and down I need to look back and realize what an awesome year of accomplishment I have had. Today was the perfect day for this post, thank you so much!

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  4. E. Ayers says:

    Last year was filled with highs and lows. This year has been filled with highs and lows. The amount of knowledge I’ve accumulated along the way is amazing. The real change for me was when I bailed from a publishing contract in 2010. I continued to write, but I wondered what I was going to do. That second guessing almost did me in. Then I watched a friend indie publish. It was different for self publishing. I watched her success and decided I’d follow in her footsteps last year and I never looked back. That small renegade act completely changed my life. In August, 2012, I quit my day job.

    I’m not where I want to be in this industry. I’m further than I thought I would be. The pendulum swings and keeping up with it is work. No longer is success determined by nameless face in some NY office. Today, it’s the readers who determine our fate. And they are quite picky!

    Here’s to a new year with more highs than lows, because I’ve never worked harder for anything in my life. I’ve come a long way from where I was two years ago. I know the road ahead isn’t going to be easy, but when I look back and see where I’ve been, I know I can face whatever challenges are tossed in my path.

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  5. Joan Reeves says:

    Jill, I really enjoyed your post even though I’m under the weather with a cold. I love this time of year — in sickness or in health LOL — and I too look back to get a perspective on writing and life. That always gives me a nice dose of humility and an eager expectation for the future. Happy Holidays!

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  6. monarisk says:

    Hi Jill, I had my daughter and granddaughters visiting for three days and couldn’t stop by blogs.

    Last year was an amazing year for me. I was so dismayed by my sales in the summer 2011 and about to quit writing, when I heard about self-publishing, Indie loop and Amazon.
    I published four new books in 2012 and two books already published for which I took back my author’s rights. In my wildest most ambitious dreams, I never thought I would make it so well.

    I am writing a sequel to my latest sory. And I started editing two books published in 2009, tightening and accelerating the pace. I hope to continue what I did in 2012.

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  7. leighmorgan1 says:

    Jill, you’ve had a busy year! Congrats on your releases. Hope the new year is even better!

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  8. The past year has been special to me also. You’ve come a long way, Jill!

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  9. stephaniequeen says:

    Jill, what a fabulous notion to take a look back to appreciate our progress! If I look all the way back, I can see my under-the-bed novel and it’s is a paper copy only–no disc! This year I’ve published two ebooks, a print copy and produced an audiobook soon to be released–and I couldn’t be more thrilled with where I stand!
    A big reason this is a fantastically exciting time for me lies in appreciating the long journey to get here. I’m a big believer in taking the long view on things–that way the bumps in the road look very small.
    Wishing you continued success next year and beyond, Jill!

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