KEEP ON KEEPING ON
When I first began writing, there was a little voice that insisted on intruding and whispering: What makes you think you can do this?
Whether you’re just beginning this journey, or like me, you’ve been plugging away for a few years amassing piles of rejections so high you don’t really want to admit how many there are, I’d wager you, too, have felt fear, defeat, self-doubt, or even impostor syndrome. For me, there are times the fear and self-doubt are so strong, I freeze even when my characters are telling me exactly what to write.
You might see how a site called Insecure Writer’s Support Group might appeal to someone like me. But, here’s the thing—until January 2019, I’d never heard of them. But, I’ll get to that.
It’s important to share your experiences with those negative voices because feeling these things means you care and want to succeed, that you’re willing to fight for it. Use those emotions to help guide you.
Because the fact is, writing is hard. It’s discipline. It’s getting your heart stomped on by rejection. But, it’s also handing a new world over to someone else. It’s finding a way to stand up and dust yourself off…repeatedly. It’s learning to trust, to recognize and appreciate constructive criticism that helps better your craft.
It’s learning to keep on keeping on.
It took almost a year to write, edit, and revise (a billion times) my first novel. And as the rejection pile grew, I researched, studied, and refined. I’d heard it’s rare for a first novel to be published, so I kind of set mine aside, and wrote another. Different genre, different age group. And I queried my heart out, adding to my pile of rejections. But, I’d also heard it could take three, four, or even five novels before one was published. So, I wrote novel number three and spent two years querying it. And even though, for the first time, agents were requesting more material, rejections kept flowing in, each one another stab in the heart.
And, while I didn’t believe Novel #1 would ever see the light of day, every once in a while, I’d dust it off and send it out.
It was during one of those times I ran across other writers talking about this #IWSG Twitter event. Like I said, I’d never heard of this group, so I checked out their website to see what they were all about.
And discovered a smorgasboard of links, encouragement, and well—support. The first thing I did was pin the site to my taskbar for easy access.
As for the Twitter event, I almost ignored it because I wasn’t prepared. But, another little voice nudged me, and with a ‘what the hell attitude,” I took bits and pieces from everything I’d learned during past events and sent off pitches for all three novels.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. So, imagine my surprise when I received a coveted ‘favorite’ for… Novel #1. I kept my excitement to a minimum because this was still a long shot…but, at least it meant I was doing something right, and every little bit of encouragement is worth clinging to!
After I researched the publisher, I made sure every ‘i’ was dotted, every ‘t’ crossed. Then, I inhaled deeply and hit send.
And forgot about it.
That’s right. I honestly forgot it was out there. Until one day in March, I opened my email to find a message from Keshini Naidoo at Hera Publishing. I clicked on it, assuming it was another rejection for a different novel, so, it took me a second to realize, “Hey, wait a minute. This is the opposite of a rejection!”
I must have read that email a hundred times. And then I read it to my husband who assured me I wasn’t imagining things. Then, I read it to my son who said, “That sounds promising.”
So, I answered all the questions Keshini asked and hit send again. Even then I didn’t allow myself to become too hopeful. After all, I’d heard stories.
In fact, full-fledged panic with a new set of doubts wiggled in. Did I respond too quickly? Not quickly enough? Did she hate what I said? I made myself sick. My poor husband had no idea what to do with me. I didn’t know what to do with me.
Six weeks of correspondence passed between us (and yes, those silent in-between times were difficult (waiting is hard, folks!) before the official offer finally came in May—a three-book deal for a series stemming from my very first novel. I was elated, excited, and absolutely terrified! I thought Holy crap. What if I can’t do this? To which my son said, “You’ve already done it; you’re just going to do it again.” (Isn’t he the best?)
I’d like to tell you everything has changed, but the truth is, writing is still hard, even with a fantastic editor with crazy good ideas and suggestions, and self-doubt still creeps in sometimes, sabotaging my efforts and holding my brain captive.
What I can say is I’m happy I didn’t give up. And, if I’m being completely honest, if it hadn’t been for my husband, my biggest cheerleader, and my son (who is the world’s best plot-hole finder and fixer-suggestor), I might’ve quit long ago.
As it is, I’m still finding it hard to believe that this is actually going to happen—October 2019, to be exact.
All of this to say: KEEP ON KEEPING ON. And when you have those days when you’re wondering what the heck you think you’re doing, remember, it only takes one. And when the time is right, you and that one will find each other.
As for me, I’m sending out a collective group hug to the creators of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. My gratitude is heartfelt, and I credit you for the path that led Keshini Naidoo and Hera Books to me.
Thank you for recognizing a need and setting up a place for writers like me to share their hopes, fears, failures, and successes. You all rock!
P.S. If you get a chance, check out my website (a work in progress, but I’m getting there).
Thank you and best of luck, Charly!
Interested in joining our next event? Use this LINK to get more information!
The next #IWSGPit will be in January 15, 2020
8:00 am - 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time
8:00 am - 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time
Our annual anthology contest is now open! Use this LINK to find all the details!
The 2019 Annual IWSG Anthology Contest is now open for submissions!
Guidelines and rules:
Word count: 3500-5000
Genre: Middle Grade Historical – Adventure/Fantasy
Submissions accepted: May 1 - September 4, 2019
Charly, that's why we are here - for writers like you. We're glad you discovered #IWSGPit and participated. And I can relate - my very first novel was also my first published one. (Released October 2010 - good sign.)
Congratulations and thanks for sharing your story today!
Awesome. Thank you so much for being with us today!
Congrats, Charly! Dancing Lemur Press has signed 3 authors now from the #IWSGPit event.
Thanks to all of you. For the group, for the invite, for all of it. I loved reading that Alex's very first novel was also his first published one...and in October!! That's a crazy good sign, I think.
And how incredible for the 3 authors signed by Dancing Lemur Press. I truly believe the #IWSGPit events are so successful because of the amount of support given on this site.
What a wonderful story. Congratulations. Inspiring.
So great to see how the #IWSGPit pays dividends. Thanks for sharing!
Loved hearing the details to the story! :)
So glad you found the right publisher for your novel #1 - so often a novel that lives forever in our hearts.
Happy dances for Charly! You'll have to keep us all posted. The IWSG support doesn't stop at the contract. When the book birthday comes, the IWSG helps with that too! It's like a family- the good kind you don't need to avoid reuniting with. :)
What a beautiful, inspiring story, Charly. Congratulations and best wishes to you.
That's so awesome that you got a book deal from the pitch contest. And yes, I can still see myself feeling insecure even if I got a book deal too. I think that's a common feeling. Good luck with your debut!
Thanks! So glad to hear it's inspiring.
You are so right about that first novel living in our hearts forever, no matter how many revisions it sees. It's probably why I never really put it away (thank goodness).
Elizabeth, I'd show you my happydance, but really no wants to see that, happy or otherwise. Lol...And I'm going to have to touch bases with you about the book birthday. IWSG is WOW!
Beverly, your words made me smile. Thank you!
It really is still a bit mind-boggling for me. I wonder if any of it decreases at least. It's reassuring to know I'm not alone in the writing world of I security. And thanks! I'll be the one in October cheering my head off! 😊
Congratulations! Thank you for sharing your story! Best of luck with all that is to come.
Congratulations! I am so glad your novel found a home and you found a publisher! Thanks for sharing your story of persistence with us!
Congrats, that is awesome indeed. Goes to show keeping on keeping on can pay off.
How inspiring! Best wishes, Charly!
Congratulations, Charly! This is wonderful. Lucky you to have your husband and son back you and read for you. All best to you. Like your son said: You can do this.
CONGRATULATIONS!!! I'm really glad you hung in there. We all love happy endings. :)
You're right; the IWSG is the BEST place for writers to get the support they need. (And no underwires!) Best wishes.
Thank you all for your comments and continued support (without the underwires (Susan Flett Swiderski … that made me laugh out loud and almost snort my coffee! I need permission to steal and use that comment, please!).
Victoria Marie Lees … I don't even know you, and I want to hug you. Thank you for your encouraging words. I realize how lucky I am to have the support of my family because not everyone does, but it's also helpful to know I've got an entire group of cyber buddies to help me along the way, too!
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