I struggle every single day with confidence in my writing. I know a lot of people may call me crazy for admitting this, but I do. Every night while I am snuggled in my bed, I can’t resist holding up my iPhone and reading over my current WIP. I’ve been writing ever since I’ve been old enough to hold a pen to a sheet of paper, but there is still that little voice inside of me that keeps telling me that I may not be good enough.
It is so easy to entertain negative thoughts. This especially rings true if you are still on the submission trail waiting on an editor to fall in love with your work, if you are in heavy pursuit of finding the perfect literary agent to nurture your career, or if you’ve just self-published your first literary baby and you’re anxiously waiting for Amazon to begin showing reviews. How do I know if I am really good? Yeah, my betas love it. My husband loves it. My friends love it. My kids even love it. The question is, what about those who really give you the greatest indication: potential consumers?
When I was a little girl growing up in Bessemer, Alabama, my grandmamma–God bless her heart--used to sometimes go into a rant about how “folks always try to tell you how to handle your business when they can’t handle their own.” I didn’t understand that phrase that she’d use when she felt someone was invading her personal space that she didn’t feel had the right to until I was an adult. Is this true? Can, as we say in the South, “the kettle call the coffee pot black?” Can someone who is dealing with their own personal struggle encourage you on how to handle the same situation that they are fretting about themselves? I don’t know. Maybe Grandmamma was right. Maybe she was wrong. Who knows?
Although I am in my own constant fight to believe in myself, I want to be the beacon of hope to those that don’t believe in themselves. You will never know how good you are unless you put one foot in the road. I know I am full of clichés, but some of these clichés are what get me through my anxiety. I have to chant them to myself when I am alone at home in front of my PC and those devils with their sharp pitch forks are dancing around my head. I am further ahead than I was yesterday. That is the good thing. As long as I know that I’ve made more progress today than I made yesterday, then I know that tomorrow, I am one step closer to where I need to be.
Whenever those devils with their jalapeno scented breath and scorching red boots come knocking at your door, tell them, “Go away! A WRITER lives here and DOES NOT want to be disturbed!”
Here are the rules for this award:
Julie & the person who listed her, showed the “rules” for this award as being:
- The nominee of The Wonderful Team Member Readership Award shall display the logo on his/her blog.
- The nominee shall nominate 14 readers they appreciate over a period of 7 days, all at once or little by little; linking to their blogs; and telling them about it at their blogs.
- The nominee shall name his/her Wonderful Team Member Readership Award nominees on a post during 7 days.
To Cathrina Constantine @ http://cathrinaconstantine.blogspot.com/
, who nominated me for this award, I can not express my gratitude enough. She is my "sister author" at our parent agency The Belcastro Agency (http://www.belcastroagency.com/
). We are represented by two super agents, Ela Marie Shupe and Sharon Belcastro. Cathrina has definetly been a comforter to me throughout a very difficult time in a writer's life: submission. She is a supurbly gifted author whose novel, "Wickedly they Come" will pe published by Black Opal Books in 2013.
So.....I couldn't come up with fourteen. I am soooo sorry. I keep trying to think of fourteen friends with blogs, but I can't! If I forgot you, I am terribly sorry:-)
JODI LINTON (http://jodilinton.com/blog
)--What can I say? Jodi has been such a cheerleader for me since I got signed with our agent, Sharon Belcastro. For the first couple of weeks, she was there to inbox me or e-mail, encouraging me to remain motivated. She is a great writer. Her debut novel, "Pretty Reckless" is set to be published by Entangled Publishing in 2014. She is a hearty Texas gal with a gorgeous family and enormous talent.
Y. R. JONES (http://yrjones.wordpress.com/
)--I met her on Query Tracker when I was in pursuit of an agent. She has a great blog, go check her out! She is an amazing talent. She has many positive and informative interviews on her blog.
Now I feel like crap because I haven't been keeping up with my friends' blogs...but hey, I posted a couple of guys that I think are doing a fantastic job. Keep up the good work ladies!
No one said that life would be easy. If life were easy, would we appreciate it? Probably not. Life is so much more of a rewarding journey if we all make goals, aspire to reach them, and promise ourselves that we will not let ourselves down.
I can remember being a pre-teen in middle school and writing stories. I would walk around with my notebook and beg my classmates to read what I had written. It's so funny that now at the age of twenty-nine, on the borderline of thirty, when I post things about my writing, I have old classmates that post to my wall or in my inbox and tell me that they can remember my passion and wish me well. Messages like those keep me going, because they allow me place my dream into perspective. I remember how long I have been chasing this dream and how I can't
give up no matter how hard things may become.
Every day is another day that I hear silence in my inbox and I wonder, is my manuscript on the editor's desk just collecting dust, or is it being
passed from hand to hand in the office from cubical to cubical? Tough call. I can only keep my fist gripped tight and-- like an author always does—allow my positive energy flow through me with a positive
vision of what is going on.
Is the journey of being out on sub an exciting one? Sure. It is hard enough to obtain a literary agent. I am tickle-me-pink with the thought that after so many years of hoping, wishing, and praying . I thank the Lord above that I have gotten this far. God wouldn't bring me this far to leave me.
So I hold on to how tough- as- nails one of my characters, TaSheena Hightower is. Her life has been so difficult. She has seen so many things,
but in the end, she doesn't dwell on how tough things have been. Instead, she takes all of that negative energy and converts it into positive energy to focus on her future. My main objective now is to aspire to be the character that I have concocted in my mind, promising to myself to hold on to my dream.
I have never denied my potential. In fact, growing up an only child, I had a platform to display it. My mother was always scouting the town for different avenues to nurture my creativity. If I wasn’t drawing, I was writing.
My goal after graduating high school and was to attend Tuskegee University in pursuit of a B.S. in Architecture. My second passion was sketching and designing floor plans for homes. I got as little sidetracked when my mother wanted me closer to home and encouraged me to attend nearby Miles College and pursue a degree in the liberal arts, and then transfer later. I am glad I made the choice, in retrospect, because I had the opportunity to build the foundation for lucrative career in creative writing.
Starting was the difficult part. Writing was so much easier when I was sixteen years old, lying across my twin size bed with no distractions from the outside world. As a twenty-something year old woman with a career in insurance, a busy preschooler, and other domestic duties, sometimes maintaining focus is challenging. Oftentimes, I find myself up in the wee hours of the morning pecking away at my desktop computer. That is the time my imagination goes wild. I become prisoner to my make-shift home office and channel all of my energy into a world different from my own.
Querying was scary for me. I’ve read so many stories about authors like Kathryn Stockett, the author of The Help who wrote over fifty queries over the course of several years and consistently got hit with rejection. I also read about National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward, the author of Salvage The Bones, and her fight to become published. The entire process intimidated me. I learned to write a query when I was a teenager, but the query process of fifteen years ago is a far cry from what it is today. This is an electronic age. Long gone are the days that you would send a query to New York with its self-address stamped envelope awaiting a reply that may take several weeks and even months. Nowadays, a query can get into the hands of a prospective literary agent or an editor with one click.
My first batch of queries of course generated several rejections. I didn’t initially become discouraged. Once I’d sent out a few, I created an Excel spreadsheet to track submissions. Before long, I was realizing that I was actually breaking ground. The feeling was euphoric. I was actually introducing literary agents to this story that I’d concocted in my mind.
Those feelings were short-lived. After the rejections, came the anxiety. Am I actually good? Is my writing publishable? Should I self-publish? I began doubting my capabilities. I had a few agents that were reviewing my partial manuscript, and a few even had my full. I still felt like I was in a funk. It was then that I opened the e-mail message that forever changed my life. Ella Marie Shupe of the Belcastro Agency wrote me back and told me that she and Sharon Belcastro loved my story! They wanted to represent my work!
I think I called my mother first. She was at a loss of words. All that she could say was, “I can’t believe that you are about to do it!” And it makes me proud. My mother raised me alone and always stressed the importance of goals and perseverance. Obtaining a representation is a very challenging feat. Overcoming this hurdle was a gigantic step toward the advancement of my career.
Now if I can survive this submissions stage, I’ll be OK without visiting a shrink and begging for a prescription of Xanax.
So now the tough part (getting a literary agent to represent
my work) is over, right? Boy was I wrong! Now I am in the proccess of shining my baby up to prepare for submissions. Of course, this is not as easy as it sounds. Revisions are fun, but also challenging.
I am glad that I have taken some time away from my manuscript so that I have fresh eyes and a better prespective.
I am blessed to have a great literary agent that has noticed things that I didn't notice and has given me suggestions to make my protagonist as strong as ever.
This week, I am knee deep into revisions with my novel. The working title is "Defeating Her Demons" and is about a young Southern girl that is raised by her grandmother, who suffers with schizophrenia.
I am thoroughly excited about my novel and am esctatic to see
with what publisher it finds a home.