It’s fun to be on this side of the blog today. When Tina invited me to guest blog during Seekerville’s Birthday Celebration (thank you for inviting me back, by the way), I jumped at the chance and said yes. And then I started thinking. What is my topic going to be? What do I have to say? The things I know about writing could fill a thimble. Ack! And then Tina came to the rescue with another email. She said the overall theme for October’s party was going to be What I’ve Learned Since I Left the Island. And that gave me an idea.
But before I get started, let me backtrack for just a second. There is one thing I learned before I ever reached the Island.
You cannot leave Unpubbed Island if you never arrive on the island.
I know. This should be obvious, but sometimes, the Old Tempter whispers to our hearts that it’s easier not to try at all then to try and fail and make a fool of ourselves in the process. But you can’t chase a dream by standing still. And you can’t hang out with Captain Jack on Unpubbed Island if you’re content to dog-paddle in the waters of the Someday-I’d-like-to-be-an-author Sea. So for those of you who, like me, found those first sandy steps onto the beach daunting… Congratulations! And Welcome!
And now back to my topic. I think I left it around here somewhere.
Oh, here it is.
Five things I’m thankful I knew before I left the island.
1. That list of revisions from my editor will not kill me.
When I opened that first revision email from my editor after selling my book, I nearly had a heart attack. There were so many! How had I even managed to sell it in the first place? How was I ever going to fix everything that was wrong without losing my story? Or my mind? Suddenly, a calm, rational voice filtered through the panic. Authors face revisions. It’s inevitable. It’s part of the process. It’s doable. Step back, take a deep breath, and work through them. One. At. A. Time.
What do you know?! My story and I actually survived the revision process.
2. Publishing a book includes a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. It does not mean your editor forgot about your book. Or you.
Knowing this in advance saved me a lot of worry and panic and kept my editor from being the recipient of frequent “Is it done yet?” emails. That would probably have gotten embarrassing.
3. Those one star reviews will come.
Yep. That’s right. When you write a book and it gets published for more people than just your mother to read, some of those readers aren’t going to like your story. A huge shock. Right?! But when that first one-star review appeared, it didn’t cause a meltdown. I’m not saying it didn’t sting. It did. But being prepared meant that when I stumbled across it while at work, I didn’t cry in front of my coworkers.
And then I was even able to sort of smile at it. The reviewer said I must never have ridden a horse bareback or I would know the heroine’s rear would have been covered in horse hair. My horse and I had a big laugh over that the next time I jumped on him and rode him around the pasture. Bareback. Our favorite way to take a quick jaunt. Horse hair on my rear. Uh, yeah. So? That’s not a big deal and not worth mentioning when you’re a horse lover. Besides, it goes along with the dog and cat hair. I just remember to brush it off before I go sit on any nice furniture.
And that’s how I try to handle other one-star reviews. Make note of anything that might have merit for future writing, then brush the rest aside and move on.
Okay. Sorry. Got a little distracted there. Back to my list.
4. Being a published author doesn’t mean you’ll be the next brilliant contest winner. Or even a finalist.
Nope. Not even a finalist. But that’s okay. Because those wildly varying scores might mean I’d sparked emotion in the readers/judges. And that was a positive thing. Now it was time to take a step back, get my initial reaction under control, and start mining the judges’ comments for ways to improve my story. That doesn’t mean it was easy, and it doesn’t mean I didn’t avoid those comments for several weeks after the first read-through, but knowing that better writers than I experienced these same things made setting aside my emotions doable.
5. Just because you sold one book doesn’t mean you’ll sell the next one.
I’ll admit. That one brought a few tears. Rejection is not fun. It’s downright painful. It could almost be enough to make you want to quit. Crawl back in your cave and never voluntarily submit yourself to rejection again. But then I thought about Glynna, Julie, Missy, Ruthy, Cara Lynn, Mary, Janet, Tina, Pam, Myra, Debby, Sandra, and Audra -- The Fabulous Founding Ladies of Seekerville. I thought of all the stories they’ve shared about how rejection is part and parcel of being a writer. They are living proof that rejection letters are not the end of the road.
So I dried my tears, got up, dusted off my britches, and as I went back to my keyboard, I realized something. I had now experienced these writer’s trials firsthand, but they weren’t devastating.
Not because I am emotionally strong or brilliant or better than anybody else (I am, in fact, none of those things). I just had advance warning. I knew they could/would come, and I was as prepared as I could be without ever having experienced them before.
Because other writers had shared their trials and triumphs, their ups and downs, their knowledge and experience.
Seekerville, of course. A place that is welcoming to everyone, be they self-assured, gregarious types or timid introverts; established authors or struggling wannabes.
I am so very, very grateful for these wonderful ladies who generously give of their time, resources, and experience to teach, inspire, and encourage others, like me, on this wonderfully crazy journey called writing.
You Rock, Ladies!
Happy Birthday, Seekerville!
I’m giving away a signed paperback copy or a Kindle version (winner’s choice) of my book The Marshal Meets His Match.
Just mention in the comments if you want your name in the cowboy hat for the drawing, and thanks for stopping by today.
Clari Dees comes from a large preacher’s family that spent their vacations doing mission work. She has visited almost every state in the US, helped teach VBS on a Navajo reservation, assisted with free medical clinics in Mexico, laid concrete tile on a church roof in Rapid City, SD, and laid brick on a church in Kentucky. When she’s not busy saving the world as a librarian—okay, so maybe it’s only a school student with an overdue paper—or tracking down an elusive genealogy question, she can be found at her computer plotting incriminating evidence for hapless fictional characters or enjoying her family and menagerie of animals in the country. She can be found online at www.facebook.com/ClariDees or cdeesbookshelf.blogspot.com
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