Moments I Wish I’d Celebrated Better

BalloonsWhen we dream big, it’s easy to lose sight of the successes that happen on the way to our big goals. As I prepare for the release date of my debut novel, I realize there were plenty of moments on my path to publication that I should have celebrated instead of being discouraged by rejections and other setbacks. I should have had cake, or at least put on a tiara.

You probably have experienced the same or similar unrecognized triumphs in your own creative journey. So, please join me in celebrating these moments of significance and success:

First time someone called us artist/painter/musician/writer/etc. My friend Holly was the first person to call me a writer. She did it while explaining something I now can’t remember, but when she said “us writers,” it took me a moment to realize she included me in that group and it floored me. I’d never before thought of myself as a writer, I wasn’t confident enough to do so.

First time someone we shared our work. The first time I submitted my work for a critique, I was shaking with nerves. Luckily, I’d found a supporting and nurturing critique group who were honest and constructive in their feedback, but never hurtful. With their help, my writing became stronger and I started producing regularly enough

First query or pitch. I pitched before I ever queried, and it was a disaster. Luckily I had a strong community of other writers who supported and encouraged me to keep going. And I had more disappointments, but also some successes.

First rejection letter addressed to us personally. Before I received my first “Dear Ms. Bradley” rejection, I had a stack of query letters that were simply stamped with “no” or “rejected.” In that pile there were also a few “Dear Writer” ones (those did not fill me with the same joy as when my friend used that title).

First rejection letter with feedback. Only other creative people understand that there are good and bad rejection letters. Good rejection letters contain encouragement, maybe some praise, and best of all, suggestions for how to make your work better. My first good rejection letter contained phrases like “loved the opening” and “see a lot of promise in your writing,” but also “didn’t feel the chemistry between your hero and heroine.”

First request. Actually, we probably celebrated this one, whether it was a partial or a full, but let’s put it on the list and celebrate it again, because it is a big one. Mine was a partial request that turned into a request for more chapters, and ultimately a very nice rejection.

First time we performed. The first time I read my writing in public, I was so nervous I lost my place twice. A very kind and patient audience had to wait while my very shaky finger found the line where I’d left off.

???????????????????????????????First time someone else performed our work. This happened just about a year ago for me during a workshop. It was done anonymously, so nobody else in the room knew who’d written the pages. My words coming out of another person’s mouth sent chills down my spine. It was such a nerve-racking and yet thrilling experience.

Every time we create new work. Being creative requires sacrifice. We give up time with our family and friends, TV watching, reading, and other fun activities. And we do this despite rejections and other disappointments. From now on, you should acknowledge how big of an accomplishment sitting down to create really is. It is truly a moment worth both a tiara and cake.

What moments of your journey do you wish you’d celebrated better?

About Asa Maria Bradley

2016 Double RITA finalist, romance author, news junkie, physics instructor, and diver. Loves Norse mythology, ranch dressing, and cop shows. Lives with husband and rescue dog of indeterminate breed in Pacific Northwest. Represented by Sarah E. Younger of the Nancy Yost Literary Agency. Writers about sexy modern-day Vikings. More at and @AsaMariaBradley.

Posted on April 20, 2015, in Auth: Asa Maria Bradley, Empowerment and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Taking more moments to celebrate is a wonderful idea. It’s so easy to get caught up in the next thing we forget to treasure the now too. Thanks for the reminder.


    • I’m going to print out “Treasure Now” as a reminder and put it over my computer. I always have problems living in the now. There are so many things on my To Do list that it always feels like I need to think about what happens next, and next, and next.


  2. What a great blog post! I think it’s excellent yo want to celebrate all the moments on the writing journey. I was at a recent conference and told a group of writers about my story idea and waited for the criticism but they were only supportive and I felt like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.


  3. Denise Niedzialek - Gibbs

    Your words speak to non-writers too. I just hit the 29 years mark working for the state of Texas & I didn’t celebrate. We moved into our new home and my Mother lived 8 weeks longer then expected and Mom is still here. I didn’t celebrate. I’m so caught up in fixing up my house. Thinking of hitting the 30 year mark. And how much time does my 92 year old Mom have left on this earth? That I no longer find reasons to celebrate. Your comments brought tears & a realization that I must, no I will celebrate the small triumphs in my life.


    • Aw, Denise. Congratulations on hitting a milestone at work, the new house, and getting more time with your mom. You’re so right. We do need to celebrate all the triumphs in life, not just the creative ones.


  4. Thanks for the great reminder to celebrate. You covered the main missed opportunities most writers forget, myself included – though I have never had my work performed. Awesome, Asa!


    • It was an amazing experience to hear a stranger read my words. The Seattle chapter did it during one of their half-day workshops. And I learned so much. Even though I had read those pages so many times, I’d never noticed how one particular segment slowed down the pacing significantly. It was so obvious though when someone else read it.


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