I have come to the conclusion that, if you want to motivate a writer to write, just tell her you want to publish her stuff.
If you also want to motivate her to vacuum and do laundry with a smile on her face and a song in her heart, tell her you want to publish her stuff because it's "brilliant."
I had an article accepted earlier this week--one that I've been working on for ages and ages, on Melville's Moby-Dick. Truth be told, I'm kinda proud of this article because it took so long to get into shape and because it points out some things about the novel that I think critics have missed along the way.
I waited forever to hear back from the publisher about this one, and when I did get it back last October, they wanted it revised. So I did what they asked, and I kind of thought it was "better," but "brilliant"?
Hey, you don't say... Gosh. Excuse me while I blush a bit.
So I've been smiling and working all week. The only slight, slight, SLIGHT damper on the smile came when I realized that if this is in fact the month of April then that does in fact mean that I need to get my car inspected which will in fact mean time spent in the lines at the DMV.
I can maybe bring my article and read it to everyone. Then they'd speed me right on through, maybe. LOL.
In all seriousness, though, I will say that nothing beats finding out someone wants to publish something you've written. You always think it must be kind of a fluke and so in a way, you always assume the last thing you published might very well be the last thing you ever publish.
I had my first publication about 20 years ago, and since that time, I've assumed that I'll never publish anything ever again at least... oh... 20 times. Probably about once every year or two.
But then you hit your stride and you think, well, MAYBE this is... okay... sort of.
At least, that's how it is for me. Once you've had a few things published, you can usually kind of tell when you're hitting your stride and when you're not quite there yet. And in the latter cases, an editor can be crucial: a good editor can make a mediocre writer good. And a good editor can make a good writer great.
Editors have to be able to see what you yourself, as the writer, can't quite see just yet, and they have to be able to point you in the right direction. And they have to be willing to not be totally cool and nice all the time.
They have to want to make the work better. And you, as the writer, have to want to make it better as well, and be ready to figure out when someone is giving you advice that is helpful and worthwhile.
You can't let other people butcher your stuff, but if you think your stuff is so good it can NEVER be improved on, well... you won't like the revise and resubmit process very much, I don't think.
To celebrate, I've decided to cook a special little dinner for myself. When I turned 40, I cooked a very easy recipe for Indonesian Ginger Chicken for my birthday party dinner, so I'm going to make that again. (It's from the Barefoot Contessa, so if you want the recipe, you can have it--just look it up on her site!)
And then, there are socks to knit. And a quiet, restful weekend to be had.