My agent, Barbara Poelle, often says that you should buy yourself a gift when you are working on a book, wrap it up, and unwrap it on the day when you finish your manuscript. A present for yourself!
I took this advice to heart several books ago, when Barbara and I started working together. I have a fondness for junk jewelry, especially rings, and I've bought myself a slew over the last, oh, eight books.
The gift you buy yourself to celebrate a book certainly doesn't have to be expensive, but it should be an indulgence. OPI nail polish instead of Maybelline. Balvenie instead of Budweiser. Yes, in a sense you're rewarding yourself for a job well done - after all, a book's a lonely, prickly slog and reaching the end is an accomplishment to celebrate, whether it's your first or your 99th. But after going around this track for a few laps, I think it's actually more about rewarding your imperfect, flawed, but still-trying writerly self, not for "The End" but for the *process*.
There's a distinction, though I'm not doing a very good job of making it. Every day, I sit in my chair and I flex my fingers and I write that first word, and the mental dialog I'm having goes something like this: "Oh dear God please let me be worthy today, please don't let my words suck, please don't let me wreck whatever I did well yesterday, please let me do honor to that brilliant germ of a story that You gave me." In the "Finish That Book" workshop that I give with Juliet, we often talk about fear, about feelings of unworthiness - and no one is more qualified to have that discussion than me, because I feel like a pretender every day.
But I still show up. And *that* is what I think the presents are *really* meant to reward.
None of my best friends are very good at understanding how amazing they are, and I think it's safe to say that I'm probably a little more amazing than I realize, too. If I had my own Writing Godmother, I imagine she'd breeze in (with donuts!) ** every day around ten just to tell me how fantastic I am and to keep that lovely momentum going. But I don't, and she doesn't. That's why I have to be my own Fairy Godmother - and so do you.
The book I'm working on should be finished around the end of the year, and I bought a writing gift for myself a few weeks ago and set it on top of my dresser so I could admire it. But you know what? It's been a hell of a month, and I decided to give it to myself early. Because I make the rules.
Okay, here's where I get a little girly, so if you're only here for the flesh eating and the suede floggers, you might want to take your leave. The rest of you? I'll share that I have a little bit of a handbag fetish. I don't buy them often (bought my last everyday bag before the Alaska Bouchercon, in fact) but when I do, I go a little overboard. This time, I used birthday money and an unexpected writing windfall and all the cash stashed in my bra drawer, but it was so worth it:
Doesn't that just scream "Sophie Littlefield's purse?" It's a nod to my WalMart past with those brass grommets, but the leather, oh, you could slide deliciously to heaven on that leather. Trashy and luxe, all at once. Big enough for all the usual stuff as well as a notebook, a hardback, *and* my kindle. Oh, and my flask.
Here's the purse that's retiring. I'll say this for the Coach people, they sure can make a purse (but for the love of God, enough with those eyeball-singeing prints!) - my dad gave me my first Coach in high school and I once accidentally drove a pickup truck over it with no discernible damage.
I keep threatening to buy Juliet a purse the *minute* I hit it big. She's more, shall we say, indifferent to handbag fashion than I - she got her last bag (which is, I must admit, pretty cute) for five bucks at a garage sale. I'm thinking her new bookmarks would look pretty darling peeking out of this, don't you?
** I simply MUST tell you about my recent donut discovery. A gentleman friend brought me a donut from Johnny's Donuts in Lafayette. A maple frosted, to be specific. It was the most perfect donut I have ever eaten, over many years of searching. If you had told me that the finest donut could be found east of the tunnel, I would never have believed you :)