The writing life includes many lonely days of uncertainty. Staring at the screen, unsure of the worth of our words. Therefore, we especially need to learn how to celebrate, to cherish the small and great successes in our writing lives.

Last month I posted about two writing contests and Mellissa asked, “When do you know if you are ready to submit your work?” Sometimes you just know you need to take the next step. The Spokane Youth Symphony sponsored a contest last summer, looking for unpublished children’s stories to be performed along with their music. At the last minute, I did something I haven’t done in years. I submitted a new project I am co-writing to the contest. We won. The brave and talented conductor loved our manuscript and wanted to bring it alive through music. Last month eight local girls performed sections of our story while the youth symphony played songs from around the world.

But earlier in the week the dress rehearsal had been a disaster. The conductor was not pleased. I went home, wondering, why did I ever think this was a good idea?

The girls practiced all week. That November Sunday afternoon they and the youth orchestra rocked the house, earning a standing ovation. The photo shows us on stage for the curtain call. Never has a literary event surprised and delighted me so. I had doubted, but the performers and musicians had brought our story to life, and improved it through the collaboration and rehearsal process.

Our story is now being considered by an editor and I have great hopes that it will be a book some day. But no matter what, I have that afternoon of joy to remember on those dark times in my writing life.

What writing experience do you have to celebrate this year? Have you finished a draft of a manuscript? A semester at Hamline? A great rejection letter? Pop open the champagne – now.