You Are Not Alone
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.