10 Things I’m Afraid To Admit To Other Moms

I’ve led a charmed life. Not that there haven’t been some rough spots. There is the chronic depression and anxiety that’s been hanging around since my adolescence. There was the alcoholic, emotionally abusive boyfriend. There was that one job I was let go from (which I still feel bitter about). There was the time the […]

How To Handle a Career Setback with Finesse

I started writing about my attempts to get pregnant a little over two years ago, in May 2010. I had been asked to launch a parenting blog for YourTango, and the timing seemed fortuitous. By September 2011, however, I was writing about infertility, and my husband and I had made our first appointment at a [...]

Don’t Forget To Thank Your Writing Partner

Earlier this week, I sent query letters out to four literary agents. This was a big step for me. I’d been dreaming of becoming a published author since the age of 5 and, since then, I’d done absolutely nothing to make it happen. Now I have a book proposal — polished and ready to go — and four query letters out the door.

In fact, within 15 minutes, one of the agents responded to me, asking to see my full proposal. I thought I was going to pass out from excitement, but I pulled it together long enough to send him what I had. He responded almost immediately, saying he would try to get back to me either way by the end of the week.

This very well might mean I’m about to get the quickest rejection ever (well, okay… not ever) but, nevertheless, I’m ecstatic. I’m closer than I’ve ever been to making this happen.

And I never would have done it if I wasn’t being held accountable by my writing partner.

What my writing partner did for me:

  • helped me choose one big project to focus on
  • helped me set regular writing, querying, and business goals
  • helped me set deadlines for the above goals
  • read my weekly status reports, cheering me on when I was extra productive
  • threatened my life when I slacked (or just generally emanated an aura of disapproval)
  • marked up everything I sent her with edit marks and insightful comments and questions
  • scheduled regular Skype chats with me to discuss those suggested edits (and to talk work gossip, sex, infertility, and Chicken McNuggets)
  • held me accountable
  • kept me on track
  • made my book a possibility, rather than an elusive dream

The day after I sent out those queries, we had another Skype chat. At the end, we discussed what our next writing goals would be. I was feeling distracted by the thought of those book queries. How could I concentrate on anything else!? But I attempted to pull my weight. ”I still need to make revisions to that Freelance Awesome Starter Kit,” I said, “but I should really concentrate on developing magazine queries and drumming up new work.”

“Well, can’t you do both?”

Yes. Yes I could.

Lyz Lenz is a so-funny-she’ll-make-you-snort writer who blogs over at LyzLenz.com. She also writes for Babble, TruTV, NewParent, and other publications. We met when I was permalancing at YourTango. She manages the community there (among her many other responsibilities). She lives far, far away (Iowa), but she is my platonic life partner. I’m lucky to have her as my writing partner as well.

And since it’s Thanksgiving and all, I want to thank her. I want to thank her for forcing me to accomplish this despite myself.

Writing partners are one of the best things in the world. They’re up there with Candy Cane Kisses and cats and yoga and So You Think You Can Dance. They’re up there with episodes of Castle and The Sing-Off, and with pillow-top mattresses and coffee. If you need a reminder of why you should get one yourself… well, here.

Have you thanked your writing partner this Thanksgiving?

Related: Finding a Writing Partner Who Will Make Your Dreams Come True, Breakneck Book Report: Adair Lara’s Naked, Drunk, and Writing, Wanted: A Writing Partner Who Can Kick My Writing Ass

You’re Doing Great. You Should Give Thanks and Chill the Eff Out.

In case you forgot, I was at a retreat this past weekend (neener neener). It was glorious, I didn’t have phone or Internet access, and I even found maple cotton candy while I was up there.

But I’m not here to gloat. (Or am I? J/K. Or not.)

I wanted to share something with you.

At the beginning of the retreat, we had a welcome ceremony, during which yoga instructor Erica Mather passed around a talking stick and asked each of us to answer a few questions. Among them: What are you hoping to gain from this retreat?

When it was my turn to speak, the talking stick shook in my hands. My eyes teared up. What was I looking for? I had been feeling a lot of anger and frustration lately, both from the continued lack of interest in our condo, and in my continued failure to get pregnant. I told the group before me that I was looking for calm.

At the end of the retreat — five yoga classes, five cooking classes, two hot tub sessions, a greenhouse field trip, a journaling session, and a s’mored up, drunken bonfire later — we passed around the talking stick again. What do you feel gratitude for? Erica asked us. What have you learned?

By that point, it was clear I’d received something much better than simple calm. I’m grateful that I was able to experience something like this, I told the group. I learned that I have a lot to be grateful forso I should just chill out.

A year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to take this trip. At the time, I was working a permalance gig, at which I was overworked and underpaid. I had also completed a career coaching certification program, but was failing to bring in clients, despite several contests on my blog, an e-course experiment, and a successful Word Nerd Networking event. I struggled to pay the bills, and was consumed by the thought that I was probably failing.

Now? I’m only two months away from eradicating the last of my credit card debt. The other month, I was able to splurge on a yoga studio membership. And this month? I was able to go on a mothereffing yoga/cooking retreat.

It’s just… wild.

It’s not Thanksgiving yet, but I don’t think it’s too early to give thanks for the circumstances that have brought me to this place:

  • I’m grateful my parents believed in me enough to lend me the money for my career coaching certification program. At long last, their investment appears to be paying off.
  • I’m grateful to my husband for spending many, many hours making my website pretty, setting up an e-course platform, giving me e-commerce capabilities, and more.
  • I’m grateful to the writing opportunities that have come my way as a result of the work I’ve done, and the people I’ve met.
  • I’m grateful to have learned my worth, learned how to negotiate… and learned how to walk away.
  • I’m grateful I was finally able to muster up the courage to cut that permalance safety net loose and, as a result, begin earning the money I deserve.
  • I’m grateful to the people I’ve met not only through work, but also through Twitter, Brazen Careerist, the YEC, and this blog. I love how we support each other.
  • I’m grateful for being able to find gratitude in the midst of the anger that has overwhelmed me lately.

I haven’t reached my full potential yet. Obviously. But I have a lot to be grateful for, and I need to remember that. I need to remember how lucky I am.

Have you been feeling angry lately? Frustrated. Anxious or scared or jealous or desperate? Your feelings aren’t invalid by any means, but ask yourself: What do you feel gratitude for?

Related: Looking for Fulfillment? Don’t Hold Out for Perfect, Inch By Inch: How Small Steps Lead to Big Success