Triumph. The word itself is grand, austere — pompous even. It conjures up images of illustrious and august achievements, and in my slightly addled mind; stadiums full of scantily clad Romans screaming for a returned ruler riding before carts piled with riches. But I digress.
So what defines triumph for a writer? Is it publishing the next NY Times best-seller? Making ridiculous amounts of money for your written word? Having real fans? Or is it something more sedate but no less victorious; i.e. turning up to the computer and writing something every day, or simply believing in yourself?
I’ve avoided this month’s post for as long as I could because, up until now, I’ve felt my writing journey has been a little bit “move along people, nothing to see here.” I’ve got a blog that I share flash and short fiction on, just like a million other writers out there. Not that impressive? Oh I don’t know. It’s pretty brave to put yourself out there and ‘publish’ your raw fiction in an environment that’s akin to feeding time at the zoo. But is that triumphant? You know, I think I’m going to say yes. I’m saying yes because twelve months ago, I would never have dreamed of being so audacious and declaring my writing intentions so. Over one simple lunch with a good friend, who introduced me to her good friend, I went from believing myself to be incapable of doing anything about my secret writing dream, to “I can SO do this – let me at it!” While not exactly having a concrete plan in place at that moment, if I hadn’t started to blog and involve myself in certain online communities, I wouldn’t have achieved my next triumph.
I got the opportunity to write for a Literary Mix Tapes anthology. I was so excited to be involved and peachy freaking keen to please Jodi Cleghorn, my new friend and (eep!) editor. While the process was a serious learning curve for me — at times I think I could hear Jodi screaming from 2000 kilometres away — it was ultimately a triumph. I was published. I still think my contribution to Eighty Nine was cringe-worthy and to this day I think of it like a stick figure drawing in a gallery full of Monet’s, but it was my first. My baby, so to speak, and it gave me the confidence to keep writing, to grow and to get better.
Eighty Nine gave me the balls to call myself a writer. It set the foundation for some form of future in writing — big or small, acknowledged or un, Eighty Nine was like scrawling my intentions into wet concrete for all the world to see. Since Eighty Nine, I’ve written for two more Literary Mix Tapes anthologies; Deck the Halls (out there for Aussie readers right now, for non-Aussie’s later in the year) and Tiny Dancer (to be released later this year) — but hey, look! More triumphs! I’ve also had the fortune to be able to go behind the scenes with eMergent Publishing; organising launches for Chinese Whispering publications, a bit of editing on Deck the Halls and a host of office Imp activities that have been a fantastic learning opportunity for me. Another triumph? Why the hell not!
Now I sit here with twelve months of active involvement in a very supportive writing community, with a couple of publications under my belt, writing about writing for Write Anything, a blog holding a small collection of short fiction (that is admittedly neglected most of the time — must rectify that…), and a bevy of friends who I would never have met if not for that lunch with a couple special ladies and patient little boy. I personally don’t believe that there is ever only one triumph, one achievement that defines us all. I like to think that it’s the little things, the intimate successes that mean the most. It’s those achievements that make us stronger, that prepare us for the bigger conquests and I think we should acknowledge them, celebrate the small as much as the big.
What do you do? Do you give yourself credit for the little things as much as the big? Or do they get kicked under the bed, unwrapped, soon to be forgotten? The question I ask is; triumph or triumphs?