The most important advice I've ever received about writing came from my friend, Andrew Sean Greer. We were having lunch in San Francisco, and Andy said, "Let's order Champagne." I told him I hadn't written anything wonderful that day, and didn't deserve bubbly.
Andy looked me square in the eye and said, "Amanda, the whole writing life is hard. It's hard to be alone all day typing, it's hard to sell a book, it's hard to promote a book, readers might not love you, you might not win awards, etcetera. This is your life. At least you can be proud of yourself."
I've tried to take his words to heart. Every day I work – whether it be typing pages, thinking about a book, researching, or reading, I try to be proud of myself. That's all you get, in the end: the joy of typing alone, the sense you give yourself of accomplishment. The rest can come and go. So order the Champagne.
Amanda Eyre Ward is the author of the novels Sleep Toward Heaven, How To Be Lost, Forgive Me and Close Your Eyes, as well as a short story collection, Love Stories in This Town, which includes the story "Miss Montana's Wedding Day," a prize-winning story in the 1999 Austin Chronicle Short Story Contest.
The Austin Chronicle is currently accepting submissions for its annual Short Story Contest. (Postmark deadline Dec. 10, 2012; see more rules and regs.) Check the Books blog all week for more encouraging bits from published authors and past Short Story Contest winners.