This guest post is part of the Turning Points blog series here on distraction no. 99—in which I asked authors the question: What was your turning point as a writer? Here is YA author Micol Ostow revealing hers…
Guest post by Micol Ostow
The truth: as thrilled as I am to be asked to participate in this blog series, I’m reluctant, if not downright loathe, to deem any one moment in my writing career the clear and definitive turning point. (Further truth? Even referring to it as my “writing career,” as opposed to “that thing I do because I just can’t seem not to,” is a turning point in itself. Career? When did that happen?)
External factors can cue the big, stop-and-soak-them-in moments, like my first published work (a short story in 2002), or the date that I signed with my inimitable, indefatigable agent (shortly thereafter). My first original novel published in 2005, and my first “literary” novel in 2006 (followed closely by my first tepid review, which I tried to see as a rite of passage, albeit through gritted teeth).
The problem, to me, is that identifying a specific “turning point” in one’s creative endeavors feels limiting. It shrinks one’s perspective, and narrows the long view I try to keep in mind for myself, for my career. It hangs the definition of “success” on fixed externalities over which I have little to no control. Would hitting a bestseller list be a career turning point? Of course. Likewise winning a prestigious award. And I’d revel in those events, naturally. Who wouldn’t?
But in the meantime, I’ll revel in reality, in the amazing fact that when I go to work, I am creating stories that, miracle of miracles, some people seem to want to read, that some people even pay for. I’ll revel in the two heady, happy years I spent studying craft, ultimately expanding my scope as a writer, tilting my sensibility away from the commercial (What Would My Cell Phone Do?) and inexplicably toward the thorny, the twisted, the dark (family).
Which is not to say that my days as a commercial writer are done.
A turning point is not necessarily a point of no return, after all.
To be a writer requires a certain blend of insanity and tenacity; to be a professional writer (that is to say, one whose livelihood comes from writing) requires little so much as flexibility. Markets change. Trends change.
But I don’t believe that any of us ever truly feel “finished.” (Certainly none of the writers I know do.) And thus, no turning point, however impactful, is truly final. As one author friend told me recently, each piece we write is a lottery ticket, an opportunity to be heard.
An opportunity for evolution, for reinvention.
And the prize? The pot? The shiny brass ring? That is constantly evolving, as well. Maybe it’s to find an agent, maybe it’s to publish a novel. Maybe it’s to finish a novel. Maybe to join a critique group, or a book club.
Maybe. Endless maybe. Also known as endless possibility.
The point, then, is to keep turning the page: of your career, of your writing, of your life. Specific, concrete turning points are easier to see in hindsight than in the moment.
But the moment is always upon us.
Micol Ostow welcomed her daughter on Christmas Day, and wonders very much what this next turning point will bring. Visit Micol at www.micolostow.com.
GIVEAWAY WINNER ANNOUNCED!
Congratulations to the winner of TWO books: an *autographed* copy of family by Micol Ostow… and an *autographed* copy of a book she loved, Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse by Lucas Klauss! The winner is…
Congratulations, Bekka! I will email you for your mailing address. And thank you to Micol for offering up her own book and Lucas’s book for the giveaway!