Saturday, January 20, 2018
I love and dread milestones by Paty Jager
I'm a goal oriented person. I set goals and claw my way to making them. Sometimes it isn't pretty, and sometimes I fall short. But when I meet a goal and the rewards I get from making that goal is recognition or acceptance, I thrive.
But there are times when I meet a goal and I'm not satisfied. I've had several of those moments over the years and that's when I have to sit back and ask myself, what did that goal accomplish? And usually it was either my own personal reason for making the goal or it had little to no impact on what I really wanted to accomplish.
But milestones...I love! Because they aren't something you set your mind to thinking about, they are events in your life that change the way you think about yourself.
I've had events in my lifetime that made me a victim. But the day in my twenties that I found the strength and realization how not to be a victim, was a milestone for me.
Then the day came that I got out from behind books and decided I wanted to make a difference in people's lives through words. I took writing classes and found the nerve to take a story to a newspaper editor and blatantly tell him it was good enough to print, and he didn't' need to send out a reporter for the interview I'd already done. He read the story and said it was good and he'd only send out a photographer. That was a milestone that built my confidence in my writing.
But writing for the newspaper wasn't enough and I found writer's groups and honed my craft, writing books that had strong themes of justice. Growing as a writer was good, but I was offered a job with the local extension service. I agreed under the condition I didn't have to speak in front of anyone. Six months later, I was told I was in charge of the new leaders and would teach the volunteer training. A year later, I had to give awards to the youth who had helped me throughout the year. This was in front the families and 4-Hers of Deschutes County. All I remember about the night was trying to keep my knees from collapsing, my eyes focusing, and not forget anyone's name. That was a HUGE milestone for me. I can now get up in front of a group and give a presentation with only a tiny flutter in my stomach. While I cursed my two co-workers that night for making me get up in front of all those people, now, I think of them with gratitude every time I step in front of a group to speak.
Eventually, the writing workshops and conferences paid off, I had a small press interested in my book. My first major writing milestone, publishing a book! I learned a lot from the editor who helped me shape the book into something that would make the publishing company proud. And while working with the editor, I was offered a job as an editor for the publishing house. Two milestones in one! Not only was I getting a book published, but they felt I excelled enough in craft and grammar to help others. I was no longer just a student, I was a teacher as well.
I enjoyed editing and helping other great writers see their books published, but I was becoming rebellious as more and more author friends told me to self-publish. They showed me the numbers and the work it would entail and I took the dive. Five years and 10 books published with the small press, I jumped into the Indie waters and never looked back. That was a major milestone for me. I not only learned even more about publishing a book and uploading it to vendors, I found I made more money and could finally prove to my husband, this was no longer a hobby, but a career.
And now, as I write the book that will give me 33 published books, I don't see it as a milestone but merely a stepping stone. What I do think of as a milestone, is using this book and this series to springboard into a new series that I hope will reach a new milestone of getting my mystery's titles mentioned alongside the likes of CJ Box, William Kent Krueger, Tony Hillerman, Dana Stabenow. That would be a milestone!
What are some of the milestones you've accomplished?
Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 32 novels, 6 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery, western romance, and action adventure. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. This is what Mysteries Etc says about her Shandra Higheagle mystery series: “Mystery, romance, small town, and Native American heritage combine to make a compelling read.”
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