Celebrating Wins

My writing journey has been slower than I would like (this is entirely my own fault — becoming an expert at self sabotage can do that), but one of the things I started doing was celebrating my writing wins in a really tangible way.

I decided to start celebrating whenever I sold something. DO NOT DO THIS. You can’t control if something sells. You can control finishing it, you can control submitting it, but you cannot control selling it. Which is not to say that you shouldn’t celebrate selling something (in fact, do!) but I do not recommend celebrating only this part of the journey.

There are so many specific parts of the journey worth celebrating: drafting, writing (even if it’s just a few words a day), finishing something, submitting something, and yes, selling something.

I don’t do well finding ways to celebrate smaller wins, such as successfully writing for a day or even submitting something (though I do need to figure out something that works well for me), but I did determine on a celebration ritual for finishing something that really, really speaks to me.

And that’s getting tattoos thematically appropriate for whatever I finished.

So let’s start!

The very first story I ever sold was “You An Accidental Astronaut.”

I signed the contract on November 1st, 2015. I got my celebratory tattoo on October 15th 2017. It is NEVER too late to celebrate.

The second story I sold was We Lilies of the Valley, which was accepted in November of 2016. Yes, those dates are right! I sold a second story before I even celebrated my first one!

And listen,

A facebook entry from November 15th 2016 from my personal facebook shows a screenshot from September 27th 2016 with the text, "Another rejection today. I'm wondering if I should submit to shimmer since they close in three days but I am not sure if it's their thing" The post from November says, "Excited to announce that one of my short stories was picked up by Shimmer magazine! https://www.shimmerzine.com. I'm very excited to work with them! They publish great pieces. Also, see the post I mentioned on sep 27. Don't self reject!"

You would think after a story like that I’d celebrate my win, right? No! I didn’t get my celebratory tattoo for We Lilies Of The Valley about midway through the Covid Pandemic.

So here are the tattoos:

A tattoo of an astronaut, reaching with their hand, is on the top shoulder. A watercolor effect of a galaxy in purples and teals serves as the background. Below the first astronaut, is a second astronaut reaching in a similar pose. Yellow flowers with purple centers are in the shape of a crescent moon are behind the astronaut. A faint background of purples and teals tie the two images together.

The top astronaut on the shoulder was for “You An Accidental Astronaut” by Brandon Bopko.

The astronaut below was for “We Lilies of the Valley” by Lindsey Ercanbrack. Yes, I know those aren’t lilies. I chose orchids over lilies because it fit the story better.

Also during the pandemic, I chose to get a tattoo for a short story that I loved but haven’t sold. This is about the time I shifted to celebrating finished drafts as opposed to sold drafts because I really, really loved this story, and I wanted to celebrate it.

(spiders cw)

A spider with purple and cold dangles from a web along the bicep. The web is attached to a flying saucer with teal lights on the shoulder.

This art is also done by Lindsey Ercanbrack.

(the colors on this are actually more vibrant than what is showing up here)

I actually probably need to change this short story into a novel or novella, at which point I’ll add to this tattoo with something thematically appropriate.

(gore cw)

In May of 2021, I got a tattoo to celebrate the completion of my zombie novella. I don’t actually have a solid date for when I completed this since it’s been “done” a few times now, but I started this story before I even sold my first short stories. So, it’s been more than five years, and each time I revisit it as I grow as a writer, I see things that need to be changed. But I think it’s for real done–after I put in those edits from the sensitivity read.

A skeleton hand holds a golf puck between two fingers. A zombie eye, with entrails of blood, sits on top of the puck.

This was also done by Lindsey Ercanbrack. The reference I gave her was designed by Micaela Brody (yes, it’s the image on the side of this blog!)

I’m very happy with these tattoos, and I do intend to continue the tradition. I need two more for the novel drafts I finished in late 2020, and I have ideas for a short series I intend to self publish.

Which writing wins do you celebrate, and how do you celebrate them?

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