What actually is a reward? We all long for them, but the definitions are endless, from the wide-eyed delight of a child to chocolate after a bad day to praise from the hard-to-please boss. As a writer, there are several definitions as well, all depending on where we are in the writing life, what we expect out of writing, and what just makes us feel it is all worthwhile. Let me mention a few rewards from my own experience.
First book is accepted for publication. I had four glasses of wine and never even felt them. The reward: achievement of a lifelong dream.
Book gets some good reviews. Reward: who knew a critic/reader would actually think I wrote well?
Book gets nominated for an award. Reward: I’m in what company? No way!
Editor says I did a good job on latest book. Reward: I can still write!
In fact, I do not earn a lot and will never make either the NY Times best-seller list or the hallowed pantheon of great writers. If these things were high on my list of rewards, I would be miserably disappointed. On the other hand, my publisher has kept me on and lets me write about things for which I have a passion. That, to me, is priceless.
We all can’t get the big brass rings, so to speak, and I applaud those who try and do, but for the many of us who don’t, I offer this.
Savor the hug by the reader who loves your books. If a character portrayal gives someone comfort, rejoice. Never stop loving the craft. Work at it with zeal and have the courage to take chances. You may end up being very surprised by some of the rewards you get. If nothing else, contentment in life is rare, and that may be the ultimate reward.