Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Conditional Happiness

I spend a fair amount of time with other writers (in person and on social media) and there is a trend I've been noticing in the pulse of those conversations.

Conditional happiness.

What is that? It's a mindset that say ... I'll be happy if ... (insert specific thing here.)

Here are some examples:
I'll be happy if ... I meet my word count.
I'll be happy if ... I hear from my agent.
I'll be happy if ... I finally get an agent.
I'll be happy if ... I finish this manuscript.
I'll be happy if ... when I finish this manuscript my agent likes it.
I'll be happy if ... we go out on submission soon.
I'll be happy if ... we sell.
I'll be happy if ... we sell for six figures.
I'll be happy if ... we option.
I'll be happy if ... someone else loves this book like I do.

I've been tempted by this mindset myself lately, so I'm stopping to write this post because I want to remind myself of all the little moments of happy I've had lately. Happy shouldn't be a conditional thing. Happy should not be cause and effect. Happy does not depend on someone else.

I believe happy is a lifestyle. It's an I'm going to roll-with-the-punches, believe-in-the-good, trust-the-big-picture, enjoy-the-small-things, get-done-what-I-can, except-the-bad-and-the-good-news, etc, way of life.

Publishing and writing are too dang hard to hang my happiness hat on EVERYONE ELSE. Don't get me wrong. This is not easy. I'm writing this as a reminder to self.

So here are the things that have made me happy lately in the publishing world. Some even have pictures.

1. At my very first Author event, I got to sign kid's faces. (I think all signings might be downhill after that.)
2. My very first panel event was with friends. Look how happy we are.
L-R - Me, Kristin O'Donnell Tubb, Sharon Cameron, Heather Reid, Amanda Havard

3. I had ten excellent blogger folks help with the Faking Normal cover reveal. This meant ARCs and swag and my first mailings - which were expensive, but still exciting. I signed my very first copy of Faking Normal for the contest winner. (A 16-year-old girl from New Hampshire.)

4. Faking Normal went up online in such a way that bloggers can review it. Some of those amazing folks have tweeted me at the perfect moments and made my day. (I'm looking at you Brad, Christina, Caren, and Avery.) I know not everyone is going to like the book, but those who do seem to know the moment I need to hear from them.

5. One of my best friends got to hug her author hero.
Victoria Schwab & Neil Gaiman

6. I got to hear Neil Gaiman read from Fortunately the Milk, which is my editor's title.
7. My co-written project with one of my best friends went back to our agents. YES. Long live Annie and Eve.
8. Two of my dearest writing friends signed with agents.
9. My mom painted me a new rock to mark receiving my ARC.
10. Three of my writer friends are running a half marathon with me.
11. Ten people came to plunch. (Plunch is Plot + Lunch with writer friends.)
12. My hometown did an article on Faking Normal.
13. My amazing editor called me on the phone just to check on me.
14. I got sign this wall at Allgood Middle school.
15. One of my friends asked me to co-write a book with him. I agreed after about two seconds of thought because he's one of those writer's I admire.
16. My agent asked me to go to lunch with her while I'm in LA. (I get to see my agent face-to-face for the very first time since I signed with her.)
17. E-met a couple of people who liked a particular entry on my blog. We got the opportunity to swap encouragement.
18. I have a ticket to dragon con and I'm going to Decatur Book Festival.
19. I sent a scene to my mom to edit and she wrote back: LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. (There's something about All Caps that makes an author smile.)
20. Once a week I get to work for a dear friend and just recently that dear friend was made a knight by the country of Lithuania. I'm looking at you, Ruta Sepetys.
21. My husband and friends have taken the time to specifically say, "Court, I'm proud of you."
22. My friend and her two boys made me a Quartz Tree (Court's Tree).

Okay, I could go on and on. So many good things have happened. And yet for me, in the moment, it felt like I was having a stressful couple of months. I wasn't. Or I was, but not nearly as much as I thought. You know, there's an Andrew Peterson quote I go back to all the time. "All of the death that ever was, if you set it next to life - Well, I believe it would barely fill a cup."

I hope your life cup is full and your happy isn't conditional.


  1. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post! What fun. I try to have this mindset as well, because I noticed several years ago that same "If only ___ would just happen, then..."

    I'm mega jealous of Neil hugs. I went to his Atlanta book signing recently and saw people getting hugs and asked my friend aloud what I have to do to get a Neil hug. LOL. Also, I want to be knighted, too!

    Anyways, nice to meet you, thanks to Jaye Robin Brown tweeting a link to this. It made me happy, so mission accomplished!

  2. I love this post almost as much as I love you! I think you make an excellent point that happiness shouldn't be conditional and I'm taking this as a challenge to recognize the happiness around me that is not. And thankfully, there's a lot of it.

    I'm so glad I got to see you (and all my other Nashville friends) this past weekend, it was a nice mental and emotional recharge for me. I'm looking forward to seeing some of you again in a month at Dragon Con! :-)


  3. This post is a beautiful way of reminding all of us how much we have to be thankful for every day. In fact, every moment we breathe. And it keeps the inevitable stress in balance and in perspective. I love what you said (and I might be a little excited about the specific reasons!) and I love you! MOM

  4. Love this. Thanks for the reminder to choose joy and look for the happy in every day. Kristin