Saturday, October 6, 2012

Thankful for Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, I have much to be thankful for. Now, before you start rolling your eyes and thinking, 'Oh gawd, here she goes - another sappy rant about gratitude for family, friends and a roof over her head,' just hang on. Thanksgiving will forever hold a special place in my heart, not just about family, friends and having a roof over my head, but about being thankful for my writing accomplishments. Sure, this time of year is about turkey; turkey soup a favorite for many. But this year I think I need to make a bit of chicken soup - just to be extra thankful.

The last two years have been a whirlwind of life’s up and downs – such is life. But the 'ups' have very much been about writing experiences and publications.

It was Thanksgiving 2009, and with our own turkey doing its ‘thing’ in the oven, my boys and I packed a lunch and through the mist and fog we trekked out to Goldstream Provincial Park, 20 minutes out of downtown Victoria, BC. There we witnessed a large family having their own Thanksgiving in the woods, complete with turkey, candles and wine. The fact that they were surrounded by hundreds of years old fir trees was not lost on me. What a perfect place to celebrate a timeless tradition.

So, of course, I wrote about it.

Months later I then stumbled upon a ‘call for submissions’ for the series Chicken Soup for the Soul, notably their (then) upcoming book ‘O Canada.’ On a whim I sent in the Thanksgiving story, and promptly forgot about it.

Chicken Soup for the Soul was a market I had never really pursued, because I didn’t think I was good enough. I had submitted work to them years ago, but never got anywhere.

So a few months went by, and I was frantically living life, writing towards publication in other genres and markets, and dreaming big dreams.

One day an email popped up from the editors at Chicken Soup for the Soul saying that my Thanksgiving story had made it through their first round of judging. To say I was excited was an understatement. To say this was ‘big’ was an understatement. To say I was....oh never mind – you get it.

I couldn’t believe this could be a possibility for me. That I had what it took to maybe catch the eye of the Chicken Soup editors was surreal. It was just the inspiration, motivation and confidence-lift I needed. So I got busy, and started writing for their other upcoming publications. It became kind of an obsession for me, my walls covered in deadlines for future books, articles I found online about writing for them piled up, and many editions of their past books for me to read and learn from threatened to topple. I studied the series and their brand, obsessed about them, and wrote like a madwoman.

Something I should have, and could have, been doing all along if only I had the confidence.

That was in 2010, and here we are Thanksgiving 2012. That first Thanksgiving story never made it to print – such is the life of a writer and the business of writing. But in October 2011 and May 2012 I had two stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find your Happiness, and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Say Goodbye to Stress, respectively. I have had a few ‘close calls’ like I had originally – a story making it as a ‘finalist’ but not quite making the final cut. Coupled with highs and lows, I have had such fantastic experiences come out of it all – one of which being interviewed about the books for television.

Through it all I have learned to have a little more confidence in myself, how to roll with the punches and handle (writer’s) rejection, and how to keep focused on bigger and better things.

So this Thanksgiving while the bird self-bastes in the oven, I will be making a pilgrimage to Goldstream Park where it all began, and have a little chicken soup in thanks.

And yes, I will be thankful for my family, my friends, and having a roof over my head.

Happy Thanksgiving! Gobble Gobble Gobble!

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