I remember the day I officially launched my writing blog. I went to Facebook and created a post telling everyone where to find me. Then with my finger hovering over the mouse to click post, fear paralyzed me. I realized that from the moment I told everyone I was, and still am, a writer that they would closely watch everything I do. My writing life would be made public. Every success and—gasp—failure would be on display for the entire world to see. It’s no wonder I hesitated.
Then my dear aunt told me to go for it. So I did. What a roller coaster ride it’s been as I dealt with the good and bad of the writing life. I worked hard, did everything right, and my novel didn’t get published. All I could think of was that I had failed out loud in front of everyone. I berated myself for not keeping my goals secret. Why, oh why did I open my mouth and declare that I was a writer?
I spent a lot of time pondering that question as well as many others that threatened to destroy my writing life and my confidence. Thankfully, I kept writing. At times it was painful, but I found I couldn’t stop. When it became too tough, I read. I also cried, begged, and pleaded with God to either help me get published or take away the desire to write. So far, neither has happened. I’m not sure if that’s a good sign or not, so I’ll keep writing.
Then I came across Heather Webb’s article on Writers in the Storm titled A Writer’s Lessons in Failure. It was as if she had written for my heart alone. I simply had to share what Ms. Webb conveyed so eloquently because it inspires hope. It reminds us that we—the creatives— are not alone. I hope her perspective toward handling failure will encourage you to keep trying, failing out loud if necessary, if for no other reason than to satisfy your soul.
Writing is a mixed bag of emotions. Yet no matter how difficult the journey, writers simply cannot quit writing. It’s who we are. It’s what we do. I heard this sentiment echoed among the women at a private writer’s retreat I recently attended. I also heard the same thoughts expressed in the two writer’s groups I joined.
The great thing about these two particular groups is that everyone is incredibly supportive of each writer’s success. Still, we sometimes communicate our desire to be ahead of where we are. A friend told me he wished he had several novels he was sitting on while waiting for the market to be right for them such as I am doing. I longed for a contract with a major publisher such as the one another friend recently landed. What I hope is that all of us can learn to be happy where we are in our writing lives while maintaining a forward progress.
I mention this because I have just completed an important step in the writing process: the completion of my second novel. I actually revisited this particular manuscript to increase the word count because although I believed I had finished it, the advice of others suggested that there was room to grow the book even more. Turns out these wise people who were able to step back from my work and assess it were correct.
Fortunately for me, getting back into the world of these particular characters was welcome and enjoyable. The novel grew in positive ways and is now in the hands of beta readers. While they read with pencils poised to correct and suggest, I’m experiencing post-writing letdown as I bid a gentle goodbye to my characters. Of course, I know this is not the end of my relationship with them. There will undoubtedly be editing and revisions in my future, but I must switch gears to engage another, less favorable part of my writing life: the dreaded query letter.
I returned to a post I wrote in December of 2014 (The Terror of Querying) where I admitted some things to myself regarding my query letter. While I’m preparing to query another book, the same principles apply. And this time, I find I’m much less afraid when thinking about of the process which, hopefully, will help me when I actually query.
While I’m on the secure-an-agent leg of my writing journey, I’ll continue writing by working on those amazing blog posts I promised you earlier as well as planning my next novel and reading every moment I’m not writing. As always, thanks for taking this journey with me.