Reflections on WD Interview

Jane Friedman recently interviewed me for her Writer's Digest blog, There Are No Rules.  What an amazing and wonderful experience!  The feedback from this interview has been overwhelming.  My website hits that one day went from my average 1500 hits to over 11,000!  Um, wow.  Just wow.  My stack of #amwriting bios to add to the directory?  Well, it's bigger.  (I'm working through a couple different possibilities to get help shrinking the stack.)  Thank you so much, Jane, for this opportunity.

I look back at the interview and ask myself if I managed to say the things I wanted to say. I know I talked a lot about process and experience, but I don't think I connected this with success and dignity.

Before we're published, writers too-often associate no-answers with failure instead of progress.  I'm not sure when we learn this, but we're not born that way.  Just look at kids learning to walk.  They don't fall down once and say, "Well to hell with that. I tried."  (Or, you know, whatever the toddler version of that would be.)  No, they wail in frustration sometimes, but they always have at it again.

Yet, as writers, we often don't have the resilience of toddlers.  A single rejection is like a stumble.  "How many stumbles?" we ask.  And, of course, the answer is, "as many as it takes."  Do toddlers stop and analyze and blame the floor and the furniture and the people and the dog for their fall?  Not in my experience.  They may wail, but they also adapt with equal passion.

I know one little girl who is really expressive when she adapts. You can see in her eyes when she gets a new idea. Maybe if she grabs the dog's hair, he'll jerk forward and pull her to her feet!  Yeah!  So what if he drags her across the floor and her great idea smashes into the coffee table with her?  She adapts again. Hey!  Coffee table!  She pulls herself up. . .

So yeah, I'm not sure when we start to associate learning with failure, but I am certain it's counter-productive to everything we're trying to achieve.

What happens when we choose to treat ourselves and our writing paths with dignity?  What happens when we see each stumble as a chance to adapt and try something new?  How often do you give yourself credit for all you're learning?

Success isn't an arrival destination.  It's a path.  It's about owning your experiences and adapting and really engaging with your dreams. It's very likely the path you're walking right now.

So on a bad day, when you're feeling a little too beat up by your falls, allow yourself that one thought:  "Maybe this is what success looks like."  Then adapt.


  1. [...] over to Johanna’s blog and read the post “Reflections on WD Interview“. It is inspiring! Filed Under: TIDBITS Tagged With: susan parrott, writing About [...]

  2. Perhaps this is why #amwriting is such a big hit and has grown steadily as a source of support and inspiration for writers. We remind one another that this is a process. Even what may seem on a micro level a failure is on a macro level a success, taking one ever closer to the destination. Adaptation, therefore, is distilled and demonstrated learning. Onward!

    Great interview, Johanna. A milestone in your personal process.

    Take care,

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Suzanne Pitner, Jessica Rosen. Jessica Rosen said: .@JohannaHarness reflects in her blog about the great interview @JaneFriedman did re: #amwriting & her career: [...]

  4. I agree with Jessica. #amwriting is a place to find other writers for support, information, and sharing - whether a joke or a virtual cup of coffee. And yes, the best things in life ultimately come from the journey one has made to reach them.

    Thank you for asking us every morning if we're writing. It is such a friendly nudge to get up and continue walking along our paths - adapting and writing every step of the way.

  5. So glad that the interview could lead to greater attention and exposure for what you're doing. (And an excellent reflection too ... I'll add a link to it at the end of the interview!) Cheers.

  6. I love the analogy and it is so apt. We bang against the obstacles in writing and those who succeed are not necessarily those whose paths were the clearest, but those who simply refused to give up. The support of other writers is critical in the process, both before and after publishing. Because while trying to climb the ladder of success, we see publication as the panacea, when in reality it is another beginning. The obstacles change, but the learning process doesn't. We still run into objects and still need support in helping see our way around those objects. I am blessed by the writing support I have found online through Twitter and a lot of those people who are my main support system also participate in the #amwriting hash tag. It provides such an important place of support and comradeship in the current writing environment.

  7. So good to see kindred spirits in this! And Jane--thank you for the added link. You're amazing.

  8. Johanna, I couldn't agree more with your definition of success. Maybe it's hard-headedness on my part, but I see no point in ever giving up. So long as I'm learning and enjoying my chosen art, I'll keep at it for as long as the brain and body are able.

    When a reader connects with me through my work, what a thrill that is! It makes every bump in the road worthwhile. But of course, the bumps were already worthwhile, just because we are doing what we love to do.

  9. [...] encouragement mixed with regret. Push, pull. Wait for another day. As Johanna Harness said in her blog last week, those rejections are still progress. It can be challenging to see that when one is bogged down in [...]

  10. [...] now by more than 2,000 writers, myself included. We do this because we want and need community. In her response to the interview, Harness said: . . . as writers, we often don’t have the resilience of toddlers.  A single [...]

  11. Thanks! It was a good one.


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