Story Wonders: Making Your Own Rewards

Topics: AdventuresRevisionWriting
Stephen King quote on art and life

“How’s the writing going?”

People ask me this often and I try not to dread the question. But I sometimes do.

No matter how you slice it, I’ve been writing for years–decades even. I began journaling and making stories just for myself since I first learned to write and then writing with an idea about publishing since that one summer I went to Seaside, Oregon and found a book on magazine writing for moms. I think that was 2007.

I’ve learned so much about the craft of writing since then and even more about how to keep going when it looks like I am going nowhere.

Two things I pass on to you today from my writing journey:

  1. Make your own rewards. When you finish a project or a big part of a project, take a moment to soak it up. Plan a party. Go on a trip by yourself or invite others. One writer said she threw a party for every 100 rejections she received. Her friends and family missed the parties when she stopped throwing them because her books got sold. When she described the events, I could see why. I could also tell from her voice that taking control of her rewards took some of the sting from those 100 rejections.
  2. Pay attention to the amazing people you meet as you run, stumble, and sometimes fall along the artistic path. Like Stephen King says, this art thing is more about life than it is about the art. And one true thing I know about life–it’s better with others in it. And flat out amazing with creative, joyful souls around you.

Last weekend I rewarded myself for finishing a book draft by going to the Equinox Studios Open House in Seattle. For me, trips to see other artists and buy their work gives me the greatest joy and inspiration.

I’m so grateful that my artist friend Stacy Rosevear posted a notice about her studio’s event and that I made the trek on a cold dark winter night. The trip was made better because I got to see her mother, my high school English teacher. And perhaps best of all, my dear friend Ruth came along for the ride on a moment’s notice.

Stacy Rosevear Stacy Rosevear art

The glow from the art, the friendships, and the blacksmith’s forge lives with me now and is somehow sustaining me through this short story that I am now wrestling to get right.


So, my creative friends, I urge you to make your work, pause for the parties with others, and then make more and do it all as a part of your life, not to the side or while you wait for your ‘real’ life to begin. Next week, I’ll write more on a project party I’m planning for these dark winter nights. I’d love it if you could come to create with me.

“Don’t quit. It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.”
-Andre Dubus


Writing Update:

The short story revision is painful (as I said above) but a little less agonizing because of my writing friends. I thank the heavens for each and every one of them.

And finally, here’s a list of laugh-out-loud books my good friends sent me to help with the dark. I’m currently reading The Rosie Project and laughing already in the first few pages.

  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
  • Anything by David Sedaris
  • Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
  • Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
  • Grandma Dowdel books by Richard Peck
  • Ellen Degeneres by Ellen Degeneres
  • Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jennie Lawson
  • Lamb by Christopher Moore
  • Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
  • Tickled Pink by Rita Rudner

About the author: Karrie Zylstra Myton is a blogger, essayist, and aspiring author who writes for the wild joy it brings on the best days and the hard lessons she learns about life on the worst. After crafting stories in the ridiculously early morning hours, she chases her two sons, cuddles with cats, and laughs with her husband about how crazy life can get in middle age.

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