Wednesday, January 26, 2011

High, Low and a Resolution

by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Crazy Beautiful came out in paperback earlier this month. Please go out and buy it! Tell all your friends! But that's not what this is about.

Last summer a good thing happened, something I consider a high point. The phone rang while I was working. It's a testament to how often I'm disrupted by telemarketers that it took a while for it to register on me that the person on the other end of the line was telling me that Crazy Beautiful was a finalist for a state book award. To say I was thrilled would be an understatement. With nearly 20 books published, no book of mine has ever been a finalist for any award.

From the beginning, I mostly was just happy to be nominated, as the saying goes. Since the state award lumps YA and all children's books together, and the other four finalists were all books for much younger children, it seemed just as likely that being Odd Girl Out could work against me as it could work for me.

The day of the award ceremony came and I went with my husband and 10-year-old daughter. I had a pretty new dress and my gold high heels on, feeling pretty spiffy. In advance, I explained to my daughter that if I didn't win, it would not be an occasion for sadness. This was just supposed to be a cool day all around.

When my category came up, the presenter used such glowing words about my book, you should have seen the smile on my daughter's face. Our eyes met and for a moment I know we both believed that I had actually won.

Except I hadn't.

Another name got called and another writer got to have a moment in the sun.

But that was OK! This was no low point for me. There was still the reception to go to! There was going to be wine at the reception!

The wine was fine, as were the hors d'oeuvres. I was still a pretty happy camper. Then I ran into an acquaintance, who'd had a relative who was nominated and failed to win in another category, and the acquaintance said, "The losers are all hanging out over here."

That was the beginning of the low point. As I looked at "the losers" and so many other people in the room, as I signed books later on next to a very unhappy poet, it occurred to me how often we writers are disappointed; how rarely we are capable of saying "This is great!" without following it with "But it's not enough."

The truth of the matter is, there's almost no writing or publishing experience for which the joy isn't tempered by disappointment. We dream so big. We fall so hard. And only one person gets to be J.K. Rowling.

The writer who is always disappointed by something - that's not who I want to be, ever. We, all of us who fight the good fight of writing book after book until we are published, are winners. Yesterday, after many years and many books and three agents, a friend of mine sold a book to a Big Cheese Publisher. The years that she didn't sell, the disappointments that may crop up after the fairy dust blows away - none of that negates the tremendous nature of her accomplishment.

So that's my resolution for 2011: I will not be defined by my disappointments - although I will do my best to learn from them! - and I will be defined by my triumphs, which for the most part involves writing one word after the other until the book is done.

Now it's your turn: What are your resolutions for 2011?

Be well. Don't forget to write.


  1. Great post, Lauren-- I actually cringed when that person said, "the losers are over there" to you!!

    Every word you said here is so true-- it all really hit home for me. But I love your outlook on the whole thing. And that you wore gold heels to that ceremony.

    Off to buy my copy of Crazy Beautiful!

  2. Lauren, great post. Great resolution too! I've been in the position of saying "It's an honor to be nominated"--And no kidding, it truly is!

  3. What a crazy beautiful post - and a wonderful reminder to live, and write, in the moment.

  4. "The writer who is always disappointed by something --that's not who I want to be, ever." I so agree!

  5. You said it, Lauren. I love your attitude and the genuineness of this post -- thank you and congrats on a fabulous nomination ;).

    As for my resolutions, they all seem to involve remembering to differentiate between what I can -- and cannot -- control. And to deal with things accordingly...

  6. Lauren, fabulous post! We are so hard on ourselves (okay, and we get help from mean people who say insensitive things like, "The losers are over there"). My resolution for this year (and every year) is to keep enjoying what I do and find the joy in everyday. Life's just too short to angst so much! Although, as a Type A, I'm finding it a lot harder to be Zen than I'd imagined! Maybe I'll get there by 100 or so.... ;-) Just keep doing what you do, and you'll make a lot of readers very happy in the process! Congrats on your state award nomination, btw. That is a big honkin' deal and something to be very proud of. :-)

  7. Oh, Lauren, this is just perfect. I don't want to be defined by my disappointments either. So, my resolution is to keep plugging away, keep enjoying the warm, good moments, not let myself wallow in the not-so-great ones, and celebrate as much as I can.

    Oh, and to lose 15 pounds.

  8. Wonderful post, Lauren. You always such a great attitude. My resolution this year is the same as Judy. Only I'll match her 15 and raise it 5.

  9. My resolution is to remember why I write: because I love and need it. I've been so obsessed with achieving success I've forgotten the craft itself and my joy as a creative person. Writing is like a lover for me. All I want is to spend quality time alone with it. And that's what I intend to do this year.

    Congrats on being nominated! It truly is impressive.

  10. Great post. It's amazing that so many sensitive people choose a course so full of rejection. But it chooses us, right?

    I love that you got to show your daughter such grace.

  11. Thanks for an awesome post, Lauren!

    My resolution this year is to write a book solely for ME. With no thoughts of an editor/publishing house/reader expectations in mind. I've already started and I've fallen in love with writing again.

  12. I loved this post, Lauren, and I want to remember your attitude when I'm dealing with the lows. I always tell myself that writing is its own reward. That's as good as it gets.

  13. On the money, Lauren!! You couldn't be more right. I think the tough part is the "how." How do we keep disappointent from overshadowing the rewards? That's a work in progress, at least for me. Resolution... hmm, to define success by what's been accomplished rather than what may be achieved.

  14. Lauren

    I love this line:

    I will not be defined by my disappointments - although I will do my best to learn from them!

    It is absolutely brilliant! I share that desire.

  15. You are a published author. People have read and loved your book. By that definition, you are not a loser!