Posted by Anne Marie Becker Aug 16 2013, 12:01 am in Anne Marie Becker, perserverance, romance community, volunteering, writer's life
The following post is actually a blast from the past. On occasion, I look back and see how far I’ve come on this writing journey. Recently, I dug up this post—my first on the Ruby blog, and probably my first blog post ever—which I originally posted waaaaay back on October 6, 2009. That was before I was published, when I was still shopping my Golden Heart manuscript (which was published by Carina Press in September 2011.) I was shiny and new in so many ways, and have learned much on this journey, but I think the message of succeeding through perseverance and finding a supportive community is still relevant.
(And, as an update, I served 4 years as President of my local chapter and don’t regret a moment. During that time I sold three books. My two terms ended eight months ago, but during those years, I grew so much, and made lasting connections I treasure.)
“Lions and tigers and bears! Oh my!” No doubt about it, the craft of writing and the world of publishing can be a scary business. But…
You are not alone.
I can’t tell you how many times I have to remind myself of this. Daily? Actually, some days it’s hourly. Yes, my friends, we’ve chosen a career fraught with rejection, self-doubt, downswings, and loneliness. But as I travel farther down this yellow brick path – sometimes skipping happily along, and sometimes dragging my feet with every step – I’m meeting all kinds of people. Their paths may be different, but they intersect or even – at times – run identical to my own.
I am not alone.
I discovered this when I became more involved in my local chapter, setting up a plotting group in my home so that I could get to know people on a more personal level and making friends that I know will always be there for me when I stumble. I rediscovered this when I finaled in the Golden Heart and found a whole group of sisters I never knew I had.
So what do you do to counteract those down periods when you’ve received a rejection, are immersed – or drowning – in self-doubt, or just feeling isolated? Just as Dorothy had her traveling companions on her journey, we have friends, critique partners, and organizations to help us out on ours. So…. What would Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion say about the challenges along our path?
Scarecrow, my brainy friend, scratches his head and looks at the odds. “There are a lot of writers out there. But you won’t succeed if you don’t continue to submit. Persistence is the key.”
“Yes, but how long must I persist?” I ask. (Okay, it was more of a whine, but still…)
“As long as it takes,” he says simply, that drawn-on smile never faltering. “You never know when your manuscript will land on the RIGHT desk at the RIGHT time. In the meantime, keep developing your craft, editing your work, and sending it out. And listen to your writing friends when they say, ‘Don’t give up!’”
Tin Man, my sensitive friend, smiles at me softly with a sympathetic tilt of his head. “You have a lot to give as a writer. It’s a calling, otherwise you’d be able to set it down and walk away. Besides, you’re writing the book of your heart, right?”
“Psshaw,” I say, jaded. “That was four manuscripts ago. Now I’m searching for the book of my dream editor’s heart.”
“But there’s no way of knowing what that will be,” Tin Man points out, taking my hand as we continue down the yellow brick path. “Don’t lose the love for your craft. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, why do it? And,” he adds, “I suggest you join a writers group, where you can give back to others. There’s joy in that, and the passion of others is addictive.”
Tin Man was right. It was in joining my local chapter, and stepping forward to be their president when they needed one, that I found deeper and lasting friendships and found a common passion. I rediscovered the “heart” of romance writing. And I started to enjoy my craft again.
“Cowardly Lion, I know you feel my pain,” I say to the next friend along my path. “Every time I lick that envelope to send away a submission, my heart quakes. Can I stand the rejection this time?”
He straightens to his full, furry height, hands on his hips and stares me down. “You know the answer to that. If you are rejected, you will survive. You always do. Be brave.” He leans down and grins. “Chocolate helps. And friends do, too.”
And finally, there’s Toto. Can’t forget him. I carry him with me everywhere in my little basket, my constant reminder of the quiet love and comfort that’s waiting for me at home. Not everyone has a Toto to turn to when times are scary and confusing. When the people who should love and support you the most step on your dreams, who do you turn to? It’s my hope that you’ll find a group of like-minded people – writers, critique partners, Ruby Sisters – or that you start one of your own. Trust me, there are others out there like you, sometimes lost in Kansas, twisting in the wind and just looking for home.
You are not alone.
If you find yourself feeling alone, join your local RWA group (or if you already belong, volunteer for a position to become more active and get to know your fellow chapter mates). Or, offer to help judge a writing contest. Cruise the internet for writer resources or loops you can join. Or, just take your writing with you and get out of your lonely surroundings and into a bustling coffee shop or library, where you can see that other people exist.
One of the best things I ever did was say “yes” when my local chapter asked me to be their next president. Was I worried about the additional workload and the fact that I’d never (ever!) served on a board before, let alone as president? Heck, yeah. At the same time, I’d volunteered to help my online chapter with their annual contest. I didn’t know what I was in for there, either. But saying “yes” opened so many doors for me. I’ve met so many amazing writers, discovered several new resources, and discovered I am not alone. (And, if you happen to believe in karma, I must say that my career has grown by leaps and bounds this year – my first request for a full from an agent led to signing with that agent, and was followed soon after by a Golden Heart nomination and win. I’ve been very blessed, and can’t help but wonder if what I put out into the universe is coming back to me in some way.)
You are not alone. We are on this twisty, winding path together, and the emotions at the peaks and dips are universal. Am I scared? Yes. Thrilled? Yes! Confused? Oh, yeah, sometimes. But I’m still going forward, one step at a time, and I hope you are, too.
Are you feeling alone on your path? Who (or what) have you encountered along the way that helps push you to take that next step when you need a gentle shove? Tell me about your journey, and your traveling companions.
Anne Marie has always been fascinated by people—inside and out—which led to degrees in Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, and Counseling. Her passion for understanding the human race is now satisfied by her roles as mother, wife, daughter, sister, and award-winning author of romantic suspense.
She writes to reclaim her sanity.
Anne Marie publishes the Mindhunters series with Carina Press and is currently hard at work on some new projects. Find ways to connect with her at www.AnneMarieBecker.com.
Posted by Anne Marie Becker Nov 2 2012, 12:01 am in Anne Marie Becker, goals, inspiration, motivation, perserverance
It’s been six weeks since we saw each other last. (Where did the time go?) If you’ll recall, I gave you a little push in the form of a writing challenge waaaay back on September 19th, hoping it would generate a massive wave of productivity. Today is the conclusion of that challenge, and it’s time to check in. Drumroll, please…
My “SMART” (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goal: Complete 60,000 words of a new project by October 31st.
My reality: 61,707 words as of 10/31.
There were struggles, and some very difficult days in which focus was elusive. At least five days, kids were home from school, sick and needing Mommy. Some days, I hit a roadblock in my plot that I struggled to get past. And some days I just felt like procrastinating. There were a couple days when I was traveling or family was visiting, and it made it that much harder to jump back into writing.
Whenever I felt like I wanted to slack off or let things slide, I remembered you were holding me accountable. (Um,…thanks? <grin>)
I also found that having a plan helped. I stuck to my decision to spend the first several days plotting. Using Hope Ramsay’s recent post “Using Scrivener for Plotting,” I was able to organize my thoughts and hit the ground running on 9/24. I found that, when I could, using the evenings to plot and organize the next day’s scenes helped.
What did I learn? That I can do it! But I also learned that my maximum of 5,000 words is not a pace I would care to keep up day in and day out, and 3,000 is a more comfortable goal. Some days I wrote 300-500 words and that was quite the achievement. Being flexible was oh-so-important on days when I felt like one more apple on my cart would topple the whole thing. Most of all, I learned to go easy on myself when I don’t make it. Some days are highly productive, some aren’t. But enjoying life is important to keeping my creative juices flowing, too.
What’s Next? I’ve decided to set this project aside for a few weeks before I go back and finish the last third of it. I simply need a mental break from it. Besides, while I wanted to start a new series, my Mindhunters series is calling to me, too. With National Novel Writing Month starting up yesterday, I wanted to begin with a brand new project that will (hopefully) rejuvenate me. Perfect timing. (I’m “Anne Marie B” on NaNo’s site by the way, if anybody wants to buddy-up.)
The best part of the Ruby Push: I am a writer who seems to make the biggest strides in the editing stage. Having something other than a blank page to work with will help me out so much.
If you missed the 9/19 post, let me know your goals for NaNo, or simply for the rest of 2012. If you posted goals on September 19th in the Comments section, let me know how they turned out (for better or worse or a totally different direction). If you met your goals and let me know in the Comments below by Sunday, November 4th at midnight Eastern time, you’ll be entered in a random drawing for two $10 Amazon gift cards.
Keep focused and GOOD LUCK to you all as you immerse yourself in the holidays, or NaNo, or whatever new challenge awaits you. Don’t forget the Rubies’ Winter Writing Festival starts in January!
Posted by Sara Ramsey Feb 22 2012, 12:01 am in check-in Wednesday, motivation, Pep Talk, perserverance, Winter Writing Festival
Where has the winter gone? It’s already time for the Winter Writing Festival Week Six check-in, and we’re entering the home stretch. There’s ONE WEEK LEFT (said in a British “Mind the Gap” voice, so as to incite calm progress rather than screaming panic).
Some of you have been plugging away at your goals and making consistent daily/weekly progress. If you’re one of those people, stand up and take a bow! I wholeheartedly applaud you (even while wondering how you did it, since ‘making consistent daily progress’ has never been one of my traits). You only have to keep it up another week. And once this week is over, hopefully you’ll carry those great habits into the rest of the year and achieve more than you thought was possible.
Some of you have been working in fits and starts, catching up some weeks and falling behind in others. That’s fine too! I’m a big believer in celebrating all progress, whether you technically hit your goal or not. If last week just wasn’t been your week, for any reason, don’t be shy about checking in anyway. No matter how much or how little progress you made, you’re still moving forward. You’re still eligible to win some of the book giveaways below (and get some encouragement/commiseration/motivation in the comments section). And you still have a week to catch up. There will be more sprints to help motivate you, and I’m sure you’re not going to be alone if you’re chained to your desk writing frantically this weekend.
We’re in the home stretch. The best part of this week is that it’s not quite the end — so you still have some time to catch up, wrap up, and end on a high note! And no matter whether you “win” or not, I would encourage you to think about what worked for you over the past few weeks and replicate it whenever you write, not just during the festival. If you love sprints, use Twitter to meet up with other writers and sprint there. If you like the accountability of a points system, suggest doing something similar with your critique partners. I would love to hear any strategies you’ve found useful for meeting your daily/weekly goals, whether you’ve applied them consistently or not!
Anyone who checks in today (on the Ruby blog – check in there if you’re reading this on the WWF site!) is eligible to win one of the following:
In addition, if you report in and say I MET MY WEEKLY GOAL (in all caps), you’re eligible for the drawing for any of these awesome prizes:
- 1 chapter critique from Liz Talley (chapter of winner’s choice)
- 1 chapter (up to 20 pg) critique by Vivi Andrews
- $10 Amazon Gift Certificate
- Audiobook of Georgette Heyer’s Sylvester read by Richard Armitage and a copy of Elizabeth Essex’s The Danger of Desire
Best of luck, everyone! Here’s hoping we all meet our goals by February 29!