But there are rewards. Oh, yes, there are! Here are some of the moments that make all of the work I have put into writing feel worthwhile to me.
- Finding the right word for a sentence or the right approach for a story. Mark Twain famously said "The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—'tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning." Finding those right words can be a tremendous feeling when you just know that you've hit on the way to describe something that lives only in your mind in a way that other people will find affecting.
- Selling a story. Maybe some day I'll be so jaded that each new story sale is "Well lookee there. Ho hum." I'm nowhere close to that. Getting news of a story sale is still very exciting to me as each one both represents someone saying "I value this enough to pay money for it." and an opportunity for my story to be available for others to read.
- Seeing someone enjoy something I've written. Granted, I rarely truly "see" this in the sense of watching someone read something I've written. But through various message boards, forums, etc. I can get a sense of the reactions of people to my stories. There's always the chance that the reaction won't be wholly positive but so far I've felt very fortunate in the responses I've received. The outpouring of positive comments on Facebook and Twitter for my recent Daily Science Fiction story "Scraps" was particularly gratifying.
- Holding a physical copy of a book or a magazine with a story of mine in it. In this age of electronic publications, this has been a somewhat-rare thing for me so far. I have an issue of Nature with "An Unsuitable Job for a Human" in it and my copy of The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes. Both were a thrill to receive.
- Being able to help another writer. Whether it's been in a blog post or a critiquing exchange or even just talking something through relating to writing, there have been times where something I've said has seemed to really resonate with another writer. I like this both because it's nice to be able to help someone else along but also because of all the help I have received from other writers. I feel like I'm part of a larger community of writers when this happens.