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Celebrating the Yes’s and the No’s #ISWG

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. This month we were asked, ‘When rejections feel overwhelming, what do you do to get yourself out of this negative funk?’

Oh no! This morning I wrote my October ISWG blog from a question I’d printed out September 20th. The event page had this question – which I wrote to.

October 4th – IWSG Blog Day — Optional Question: When rejections feel overwhelming, what do you do to get yourself out of this negative funk?

After the blog was written and scheduled, I saw another ISWG blog where that was written to a far different question. Going to the blog hop page, I saw this question – October 4 question – Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

I know all is good. We don’t have to strictly follow the question of the month. But I wanted to clarify so if you read this and see the question I was writing to and then you go visit other blogs on the blog hop and see something totally different – that is why. (And by the way, the answer to the 2nd question is ‘Oh my, YES! But that’s a whole other blog post, so we’ll save that for another time.)

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Celebrating the Yes’s and the No’s

What I did then and what I do now are vastly different. I’d hope so. I would certainly wish that over the past few years I’ve grown as a writer, developed a thicker skin, and also grown in my personal and spiritual life. Which ultimately means if I’ve grown, I’ve also changed in the way I respond to many various life issues, only one of which is how I respond to rejections.

rejectedWhen I began freelancing several years ago, a single rejection wouldn’t devastate me. I knew it was part of the process – part of a writer’s life. But when I got several – okay, many – rejections in a week, and I think three within 24-hours, I crumbled. I laid on the bed and sobbed until I didn’t have a tear left. I took it personally. That many rejections all at one time meant I probably wasn’t going to pay the bills that month. I felt like a failure. For a week I wallowed in self-doubt and self-pity.

Fast forward a few years and now I’m not derailed like before. Occasionally I’ll still get waylaid for a day or two if the rejection I got was a publication that I greatly desired. But for most of them now, I shrug my shoulders, vow to send out another – or two or three – and I go on about the business of writing.

To keep my spirits up, sometimes I’ll do a search for popular writer’s rejections.

For a few instances, Authors.me, on their post Award-Winning, Best-Selling Authors Who Were Rejected, reported on these popular authors:

Zane Grey’s first experience getting paid for what he scribbled came when he sold a short story for ten dollars in 1902. His first novel, written the following winter, was not as successful, and when every publisher he submitted to rejected the work, his wife paid to have it published. The book did not turn a profit. If Grey was discouraged by this, he luckily got over the discouragement enough to become a prolific and widely-read author. The sales of his 90 or so books have exceeded 40 million copies.

Stephen King sounds downright proud of the number of times he was rejected as a young writer. In his On Writing, he says he pinned every rejection letter he received to his wall with a nail. “By the time I was fourteen,” he continues, “the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.”

Robert M. Pirsig weathered an amazing 121 rejections before selling Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a book now considered an American cultural icon.

Kathryn Stockett was turned down by 60 literary agents before she found someone willing to represent The Help. “Three weeks later,” she says, “we sold the book.” The Help later spent 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

H.G. Wells received a note in which the editor predicted, “I think the verdict would be, ‘Oh, don’t read that horrid book.’” Nevertheless, The War of the Worlds was published in 1898 and has not since gone out of print.

Still not convinced? Here’s a list of 50 authors who received repeated rejections, some over a lengthy period of many years, before they went on to become household names.

It puts it all in perspective. If they got rejections too, then I’m in good company. One little rejection – or two, or ten – doesn’t mean I’m a bad writer. What I submitted or queried simply doesn’t meet their needs for an array of possibilities.

Coincidentally – or serendipitously, as I don’t believe in accidents – I received an email this morning from WOW! Women on Writing. The subject was submissions and rejections. It referenced a column by Chelsey Clammer, and contained links to some of her columns:

Submit ‘Til You Make It, What My Submissions Spreadsheet Teaches Me, Hard-Working Writer Seeks Widely-Read Journal, Rejection Acceptance, Find or Fling? Figuring Out Where to Submit, Caring About Cover Letters, and How to Hold Your Horses, Breathe and Proceed, and Writing Contests: You Have Nothing to Lose.

I didn’t go read all of these yet – after all, I have a blog post to write and post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! But I did check out one that intrigued me the most – Rejection Acceptance. Chelsey interviewed author Jac Jemc, who has posted regular blogs since 2008 about her rejections and acceptances. Rejection Collection is a humorous, lighthearted approach to dealing with the downside that exists, whether writing is our career or our hobby.

Jac told Chelsey, “Posting the rejections on the blog really feels like a way of closing the door on the negative responses. Once I make the post, I’ll archive the email or file the letter, and that’s that. I look for a new place to send that story. Keeping the blog has really allowed the progress to become the focus rather than the rejection.”

Now that’s an attitude I endorse.

I may have to borrow her idea and tweak it for my own inspiration. But…hmmm…then I’d have to go back to my spreadsheet and actually count those pesky little critters. We’ll see. But for now, I’m off to read some more posts about how other writers handle rejections – something we all get.

Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

 

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Surprise, Surprise, Surprise #IWSG

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Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. If we want to. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month we were asked, ‘Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing?’

 

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

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I’d love to share a story about when I surprised myself by perfectly writing a first draft – something lyrical and magical that flowed from my fingertips and required not a bit of editing. (Yeah, that would be a surprise, wouldn’t it?)

Instead, today I write of another type of surprise. But, it turns out not to be as bad as I initially thought.

A few weeks ago, I submitted a query about a guest post for another author’s blog – an author I respect greatly and look up to as a role model. She accepted the proposed blog (Yay!) and proceeded to ask a question about a particular magazine that I’d been published in. For the sake of anonymity, let’s call it Magazine XYZ. She was considering submitting a piece to them and was curious about how they were to work with.

I pulled out my spreadsheet and checked dates. I replied with the dates I submitted the article, when it was accepted, and when I was paid. There wasn’t any back and forth about the piece. It was a simple acceptance, I cashed the check and was happy. All was easy and effortless.

And then the next question appeared in my inbox. How much did they edit what I’d sent?

Hmmmm – good question. I had no idea.

When I first started my writing career, I often compared what I sent with the final product. I wanted to see where edits had been made and how they improved the story. It gave me a good feel for weak points I could improve upon and ways to strengthen future stories.

Several years earlier, what prompted me to compare versions was when I read a short children’s story and I knew that I hadn’t written those particular words. When the story posted, I went to read it, anxious to see my work online. I forget the short phrase that was used, but it was something so foreign to me I knew I’d never even thought this particular phrase, let alone wrote it. Sure enough, a whole paragraph had been added – all completely new with not a spec of my own words in it. But, that was okay. I still happily transferred the small amount of money that appeared in my PayPal account and went on writing.

Now, curious about Magazine XYZ, I pulled out my complimentary print copy and reread the final product. All appeared well. Nothing seemed too foreign or out of place.

Then…I opened up the document I’d submitted to the Editor. Expecting to find some minor changes, words added or words deleted, I felt very confused as I began reading the original copy. Nothing was matching up. Oh, some paragraphs and wording was the same but was in nowhere near the same order it had been sent. Huge major portions appeared in the final cut that didn’t show up anywhere on my submitted piece. It was familiar copy to me. It didn’t seem out of place. It turned out the additional information on the subject was taken from my blog.

Looking at the two side by side, I barely recognized the published article as what I’d sent.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The final article was far superior to what I’d sent. In fact, when I looked at what I’d so proudly sent off, I cringed in embarrassment. When I examined what I wrote, I shook my head in amazement – or should I say surprise?

I’m happy they did such an intensive editing job on that particular article. There is no argument whatsoever that what they printed was a top-notch quality product. It was far better than the words I’d labored over for so many days.

I had two surprises that day. The first was my astonishment when I realized the extensive amount of editing that had happened. And while I won’t be showing anyone the original piece, I’m happy to say that the second surprise was realizing how much my writing has improved in the last two years. No, I’m still not capable of writing that elusive, perfect first draft. There’s still a lot of room to learn and improve more. But for today, while honoring the insecure writer in myself, I will embrace the recognition that my craft is improving. I’m better than I was yesterday. I’m better than I was last week. And, I’m certainly better than I was two years ago!

 

Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

Don’t Leave Me Hanging! #IWSG

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The Insecure Writers Support Group hosts a blog hop the first Wednesday of every month. We’re encouraged to “Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.” The group offers an optional question each month to write about. For August, the question is:

What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

To check out some of the other great writers sharing their thoughts, check them out here.

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Don’t leave me hanging!

This is really the only thing I could think of that bothers me when I saw the question prompt for this month. I can’t think of anything I’d feel strongly enough about to call it a pet peeve. I don’t know if there are things that irritate me that I simply don’t think about when I’m not running across that annoying trait. Or, am I simply harder on myself than I am on others? That does seem to be one trait that many of us who relate to the ‘insecure’ part of this group have in common. Many of us tend to beat ourselves up worse than we do others.

When I began musing about what could be a pet peeve, one book, in particular, jumped to mind. I finished reading it two or three months ago. It was set in the post-Civil War days when the country was still in the throes of uncertainty and chaos. It’s a time period I enjoy reading. And the book itself was good. But the author threw in so many problems that never got resolved, it bothered me. Now, I understand the need to add conflict throughout the story. But one issue was repeated several times. Something about an errant uncle and finding gold. Because it was repeated, I felt it was important, and kept waiting to see how it was going to be resolved.

And the next thing I knew…the ladies were riding off into the sunset, so to speak. Maybe not the sunset, but they rode off in a wagon…still without any news about the uncle or the gold or if it was going to help them out.

The End.

That was it.

And I was disappointed. I felt like the author had tried to set the book up for a series. Which is possible. But my proverbial nose was so out of joint I didn’t even go see if there were any books that came after. Most books I keep and pass on to my sister and mom. This one I didn’t. It went straight in the bag that went to the thrift store. I wasn’t going to pass the book along for another reader to end up frustrated at the end, waiting for a resolution that never came to be.

Maybe I have a pet peeve after all.

When Dreams Almost Disappear #IWSG

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.

The question for June is:
Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

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I don’t know if “I quit” were the words that formed in my brain one June afternoon two years ago. I think the exact words were more along the lines of “I’ve failed, I’m a big fat loser, and I have to give up on my dream.”

I’d been working towards quitting my retail job to write full time. It had taken some time, and I thought I was prepared. We paid off the house the year before, so the monthly expenses I needed to pay for were lower than they’d ever been. While I didn’t have a huge amount in the savings account, it would cover three months of bills, should I need it. Additionally, the vacation and time accrued from my employer would cover several more months.

build itBesides, on the premise of the movie, Field of Dreams, I was going to build it and they’d come.

The first major obstacle hit me full force before I’d gotten out of the building. Following my final punch-out, carrying an armload of goodbye goodies from my coworkers, I stopped in my manager’s office to say goodbye. And then, in this moment when it was too late to change anything, he informed me that I’d get my vacation hours…but I wouldn’t get any of the PPTO time accrued. He’d had three weeks to let me know this and hadn’t thought to mention it?

I was livid. I was so angry I couldn’t start the car and drive right away. I had to sit there and cool my raging boil to a simmer. That was a thousand dollars I’d kissed goodbye. Two and a half months of bill money. Poof! Disappeared. Never to be seen again.

That’s all right. I’ll make it. This is just one setback.

And then, in April, the car died. That small savings account? Now, it too was gone.

By May I knew that I’d ‘built it’…but they weren’t coming.

Oh, I’d gotten a few small acceptances here and there. But it wasn’t enough to give me the freedom to sit at home and spend my days following my writing dream.

I started looking for a part time job. Without any success. When I saw that my eye doctor was hiring – for full time – I applied. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to work full time, especially there. I’d been in that office. I’d seen the office girls in action. I knew that at the rate they ran, and with the days that stretched to seven o’clock in the evening, I’d come home exhausted and wouldn’t have the energy to write.

When the office called me to come in and work a two-day trial period, which they were doing with all the applicants, to see who would be the best fit for the office…I lost it.

I threw myself across the bed and bawled. And kept bawling.

I’d tried. I’d failed. I saw this as the total loss of my dream.

What was worse was this brain of mine wouldn’t allow me to only view this one instance that I was seeing as a failure. It had to bring up every single failure it could remember – from my lifetime! I hadn’t just tried one thing and failed. I was a failure. I was a loser. I couldn’t do anything right.

I sobbed until I was drained. Then, I fed the cats and went to bed early.

The next morning I got up. What do writers do? Even loser-writers? We write about it. I sat in front of my laptop and poured my heart out. For hours. I typed and pounded the keyboard. I should have just slashed a vein and let it run on the computer. It would have been easier.

Now, two years later, I look back and almost laugh at myself.

I worked two days for my eye doctor and came home with $140 check. I didn’t end up getting the job. (Whew! Thank you, Lord!) And I kept going. I did end up getting a part-time job, which I still have. I work for ‘them’ in the morning, which pays the bills, and I come home and work ‘for me’ in the afternoon as I build my dream.

I didn’t officially quit. But it was close. I was so close to that quitting edge that I felt like I’d fall off the precipice and never return. Until I reminded myself that some days I’m my own worst enemy and I shoved that negative, whiny creature back in a time-out box so I could carry on about my business – that of following my dream.

 

You can find Trisha Faye here:

Trisha Faye Facebook Author Page

Writer’s Zen Facebook Page

Twitter

Looking for Dead People #IWSG

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I look for dead people.

Is this a weird thing – or a cool thing – to research? I suppose that depends on who you ask. Since many of my friends are paranormal researchers, or ‘ghost hunters’, researching and looking for tidbits about dead people are just the norm. Others may not find my passion as intriguing.

I could sit behind my computer screen for countless hours, and I have. I’ve spent hours and days looking for obscure facts and references for a short story. I literally spend more time researching than I spend on the writing of the piece.

But the one who often haunts me…the one whose past hasn’t sprung to life with my written words yet, is Mitty Ann.

mitty ann headstone.jpgI moved to Texas in 2008. Since I adore visiting historic cemeteries, that’s where we went, off to local cemeteries in search of dead people. At Medlin Cemetery in Trophy Club, just a few miles from the house, I discovered Mitty Ann Medlin and she touched my heart. I couldn’t even begin to count the hours I’ve spent researching Medlin history, specifically in regard to her and her immediate family. I have a notebook filled with notes and print outs. I even made a trip to Denton to the Emily Fowler Library, home to many historic records of this north Texas area.

Mitty Ann, who was really named Permelia after her grandmother, was born October 27, 1828. Her father, who was a Justice of the Peace in Cole County, Missouri, moved the family to Texas in August of 1847. After arriving in Texas, Mitty Ann married Francis L. Harris, who had also moved here from Missouri with an earlier group of pioneers. They had a son, Charles Simpson Harris. Unfortunately, as was much too common in those days, Mitty Ann did not survive and died April 5, 1850, after giving birth to their only child.

I want to write her story. I’ve wanted to write it since 2009. So, why is it 2017 and I haven’t even started writing her story yet?

Because ‘I’m not good enough yet.’

Or, so I keep saying to myself.

Writing her story is important to me. Even with all the research I’ve done so far, I need to do more. I need more details. I need to learn more about life in the 1850’s. And I don’t feel as if I’m competent enough to tell her tale yet.

Lack of facts isn’t really holding me back.

Lack of time isn’t stopping my progress.

Lack of storyline or plot isn’t keeping me stuck.

It’s me.

Do we ever outgrow our fears and insecurities? I ask as I write this blog for The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, feeling that this group totally understands how my fears of not being good enough have kept me from moving forward with some of my big writing dreams.

All I know is that as I keep fighting my own worst enemy – me – I’ll keep looking for dead people, and enjoying every second of doing so.

 

You can find Trisha Faye here:

Trisha Faye Facebook Author Page

Writer’s Zen Facebook Page

Twitter

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