This is a photo of Beatrice Wood, the Mama of Dada. Artist, muse, writer, lover of Duchamp, the inspiration for Jules et Jim, she lived to an incredible 105 largely she thought thanks to young men and chocolate cake. She once said: "There are three things important in life: honesty, which means living free of the cunning mind; compassion, because if we have no concern for others, we are monsters; and curiosity, for if the mind is not searching, it is dull and unresponsive."
Her life is a great inspiration just to lighten up and focus on what is important - I don't think you get to be 105 by stressing about the small stuff. Read a great article in the Writer's Digest newsletter this morning - how not to be an HMA (High Maintenance Author). Really recommend subscribing to their free email as there is always something interesting. The article made me smile. Most people have a sense of why they want to write - if it is simply for your own private self expression then you won't be working with editors, publishers and agents. However, I think the majority of people who write want to be published at some level. As the article points out, patience is a virtue. It has taken me a long time to get used to just how long everything takes - the shifting deadlines, the articles submitted in January still being considered by summer. The ideas that take months or years of hard work then disappear off the radar when submitted.
I was lucky to work with a really great editor last summer. Her suggestions were spot on and by the time I made the changes she suggested the manuscript felt lean and exciting again. However, as this was my first experience of being edited, it took a leap of faith - cutting roughly 25,000 words from the manuscript including the entire 'they all lived happily ever after' wedding and the final chapter wasn't easy. I've worked with plenty of magazine editors and I'm used to seeing my articles chopped around but I've never cared about any piece of work as much as this book. This is my first time, and I figured as she had years of experience editing writers far more successful and established then I should listen to her.
I agree with Beato - honesty, compassion and curiosity are vital for a good life. To this for writers I'd add patience, humility and a sense of humour. This is not after all brain surgery - though it may feel like it at times, nobody's life depends on your book being published. It's nearly a year since I finished editing the manuscript, and while I trusted it was being submitted, I woke up every single day hoping for good news. You know that as a new writer you are not going to be top of the 'To Do' list, you don't want to be a pain in the backside HMA, but as the months drag on ... put it this way, its been a long year. The scary woman on 'Ten Years Younger' would have her work cut out. Still, I've recently met a really great new agent - fingers crossed we'll be working together soon and the first book will at last be submitted and published. This is the best job in the world, and if I get to give up the day job and do this full time I will be over the moon. May just make it to 105 - with or without the chocolate cake.