Tag Archive | confidence

The Truth About Publishing

I’ve talked to a lot of people lately- at craft shows, book signings, and online- and when I meet a fellow writer, I hear the same sentence over and over again:

“I love to write, but I’m afraid to publish.”

After listening to their experiences, I’ve come to learn that it’s not so much the process of publishing that scares them (they don’t mind the writing, editing, or marketing), it’s the thought of having their work out there.  In the public.  On the web.  Out and about where everyone in the world can now see.

Take it from someone who was once a non-published author before: putting your work out there is a scary task!

Because when you publish, you open yourself to critique, or better yet, troll-infused criticism.  You risk the possibility that your dream of living off of your book’s royalties may not come to pass.  You just might have to come to terms with the fact that even though your work is brilliant and great, there is a chance that it’ll get lost in the endless supply of books being published daily online, and only a select few will ever come to appreciate it.

Those are fears that are a reality to a lot of published authors, and it’s a reality that many people will never understand.

So I’ll be honest- publishing is scary.  The risk is high, the rewards are sometimes scanty, and even if you do have good sales the first time around, they aren’t guaranteed to last.

But I’d be lying if I said publishing still isn’t worth it.

Because the truth is, despite the trolls, despite the roller-coaster sales, despite the risk that your books may only ever be read by a few people on Goodreads who somehow found you, publishing is still worth it.  Amidst the trolls, there’s readers who will read your book and love it.  Despite the low sales and having to still work that nine to five job, you can say (unlike many others), that you’ve got to live your dream.  And even if your story gets lost in the shuffle, it’s still in that pile, and even if people don’t read it today, there’s always the chance that after a time of digging, they’ll read it tomorrow.

None of us know what the future holds.  It may be bad, it may be bland.  But there’s also a chance it can be good.  But unless we take that first step into the unknown and actually try, we’ll never know.

So if you’re unsure of whether to publish or not, I’ll tell you what I tell the other writers I talk to:

If you want to publish, then publish.  If you don’t, don’t.  Only you can make the decision on what to do with your writing, and you’re the one who knows best.  But if you’re still unsure, don’t let worry or fear get the best of you.  You’re a writer.  Whether you’ve got a book for sale on Kindle or a dusty old journal on your nightstand, you’re a writer.  And no matter what, as long as those words are on paper (or in digital space), you’ve already accomplished what most people could only dream of.

And that, my friend, is something to be proud of.

Damaged Pearls

Last year my mother came across a huge sale that was every shopper’s dream.  Jewelry-specifically pearl necklace and earring sets-were marked down over 70% off.  The clearance price was so cheap you’d literally think you were getting those little plastic costume pearls in the local store.  The bargain was a steal, and like any good shopper, my mom decided to take advantage of the rare price drop and buy pearl sets for me, my grandmother, and herself for Christmas.

We picked them up at the store and opened the box for inspection.  To our dismay, the majority of pearls on the necklace were of poor quality.  Many were dented in.  Some were misshapen.  A few had an off-color about them.

Because the price was so good, we decided to keep them and at least try them out before returning.  We took them home and brought my grandmother’s set to her house, but because the pearls were of poor quality, she had us take her set back for a refund.

When we returned home, my mom was debating on whether to take ours back or not.  But after examining the pearls, we came to the realization that just because they had a few flaws didn’t mean they weren’t beautiful.  From a distance, you couldn’t tell the pearls were damaged and they looked like any other necklace.  And even when you looked closely upon them, seeing the dents and awkward shapes and sizes, it became clear that the flaws and awkward parts of the pearls were what made them unique, and in many ways, beautiful.

Sometimes when we look at ourselves, we only see our “flaws”.  Maybe we think we’re too big or too small.  Maybe we think our face is full of acne or our hair is too frizzy.  Maybe our bodies just don’t look like the way we want them to.  But like the “damaged” pearls, we can still be beautiful despite our flaws.  Flaws are something we all have (regardless of what Hollywood culture seems to portray), and for many, those flaws are only noticeable when we look for them.  Sometimes the flaws are noticeable (I know no matter how much makeup I wear, the acne can still show!), but despite that, we are still beautiful.  And like my “damaged” pearls, sometimes our flaws may not be flaws at all, but something that adds a unique beauty to us.  Depending on how we see it, our flaws can also give us a mighty strength to do something great or help others in similar situations.

I’ve had my pearls for a year now, and even though they aren’t “perfect” or “flawless”, they have become my favorite piece of jewelry.  I’m not much of a jewelry person, but any time I have a special occasion, I wear my pearls.  And despite what they look like, others have loved them, too.  Because when I wear my pearls, most people don’t look at the dents or the color or the sizes.  They just see a pearl necklace and a smiling person who’s wearing it.  Some may say my pearls are flawed, but to me…

They’re fabulous.

A couple of notes before I end this post:

  • If you could keep my grandfather in your thoughts and prayers, I would appreciate it.  He had a heart attack this morning, and though he is in good spirits and is being treated by doctors, we still are unsure of what’s ahead in recovery or whether open heart surgery will be needed.
  • I’d also like to give a big thank you to everyone who has bought my book, “The Ripple Affair”.  I welcome reviews on my book and would love to see some more reviews on Amazon!  Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of my first novel’s release.  The second book, “Reign of Change”, will be published *very* soon, so you won’t be stuck with the cliffhanger ending on “The Ripple Affair” for long.  😉

Thanks, everyone, and have a wonderful weekend!

A Writer’s Toughest Critic

I was at the grocery store the other day running some errands, and as I was browsing through turkey bags and potato chips I decided to make a run through the book section.

Not to browse through and find something I actually wanted to read, mind you.  Since I’m readying to publish my first book, I decided to check out my book’s competition.

I know, I know.  It’s totally shallow of me.  I also ate three no-bake cookies that morning with breakfast.  I was having a very human day.

But the reasoning of checking out said books was more of a confidence check for myself, since I’m being completely honest.  I don’t expect my books (when they are published) to be anywhere near the bestseller list when they come out, because hey – let’s be realistic…I’m a relatively unknown author – but I was having a moment of self-doubt and needed reassurance.  I wanted to see if my books, my writing style, was good enough to enter the wonderful world of fiction.

I’m about to enter a market where a lot of talented people work and thrive.  I’m a little fish jumping into the ocean thinking I can swim with whales.

And since I have two betta fish at home, I can only imagine how they’d be in the ocean.  They’d be terrified (especially when they find out there’s no fish flakes in the Atlantic.)

So I went to the book section and started browsing.  I wanted to see if my writing ability could be on par with other authors.  I picked up a thriller, opened the pages, and settled on the first chapter to read.

To my surprise, the chapter was okay.  The writing style wasn’t to my personal taste and it was filled with adjectives with every other word, but I found myself thinking, “Huh.  Well I think my writing might at least be on this level.  Maybe even better.”

I put it back and picked up another book of general fiction.  When I opened and read, I found the writing style eloquent, fancy, and highly intellectual.  Whoever wrote the book was a master of grammar and voice.  It was no surprise this was on the bestseller shelf.

Yep…that author was way better than me.  My book was surely doomed.

But as I kept on browsing, picking up a few different genres like action, young adult, and romance, I found myself seeing something unique about all the writers.  The way they shaped their words wasn’t explicitly bad or good…it was just…different.  I found myself questioning the very notion of what I considered “good writing”.  I limited it to one style, highly detailed and highly perfect, and I figured that if my writing didn’t match up to what I considered “good writing” (or what I was taught “good writing” to be), then my own writing was terrible.

After reading through the various books, however, I realized my writing was just like the other authors’.  It’s not bad, it’s not good.  It’s just different…unique.

I left the book section that morning with a change of mind.  I went in worrying if my books were going to be “good enough” for people to read, but I left realizing that my books are as good as I see them to be.  No matter how unique the style is, someone, somewhere will like it (just as someone, somewhere won’t.)  As authors, none of us write the same.  We all have different voices and different styles that can reach a broad audience.  And yet that’s what makes writing so beautiful.  It’s diverse, full of different voices and styles to appeal to everyone, coming together as one broad voice known as literature.

I learned a lesson that day in the grocery store – a lesson I already knew but never really took to heart.  My toughest critic isn’t the reader, nor is it the reviewer.  It’s myself.  I’ve been the one who has been thinking my writing needed improvement.  I’ve been the one who said my work wasn’t good enough.

That isn’t to say it hasn’t needed improvement.  I’ve learned some lessons over the years that has helped my writing get better, and the constructive criticism I’ve received has been extremely beneficial.  But constructive criticism aside, I learned I needed to stop being so hard on myself.  Stop comparing, stop self-criticizing, stop worrying.  I need to be my biggest supporter, not my greatest enemy.

As creators, it’s easy to become perfectionists in our work.  It’s also easy for us to be bogged down by insecurity or fear of not being good enough.  Whether it’s in creating story or creating art, talent comes in many shapes and forms, but it isn’t talent that purely grows success.  There’s another important ingredient, something that can even overshadow talent.  It’s confidence-confidence in our work, confidence in ourselves, and confidence that we can do anything we put our mind to, as long as we work hard and believe.

Thank You, 2013

I was at a friend’s wedding a few years ago when I met a nice, middle-aged woman who happened to sit next to me in the chapel.  Since I was pretty much the only person I knew at the wedding (besides the bride and her immediate family), this woman and I decided to buddy-up and chat during the reception dinner.  We got to talking and somehow, someway this lady figured I was a writer.  I’ll admit I’ve kept my true love of words a secret from practically everyone except my mom (most of my friends and family have very little interest in books), so the fact that she was able to deduce that so quickly let me know she was a woman of good insight.  As we got to talking about writing, she gave me a good piece of advice: “Just do it.”

At first, I thought she was sounding like a Nike commercial, but then she explained to me what she meant-if you want to write, then write.  Don’t let fear of failure or your own insecurities hold you back.

That wedding was nearly 3 years ago.  And though I felt inspired by her words after I went back home, I didn’t heed her advice.  I didn’t write hardly at all.  And for the most part, the stories I wanted to write just remained in my head.

And so 2013 came along.  I was working and staying involved, but writing was still in the background.  It was what I wanted to do, but with no money and no connections, it seemed like an impossibility.  On Sunday nights before bed my mom and I started watching Joel Osteen, the American Christian preacher based in Texas that’s on TV every once in awhile.  He had a sermon about having a calling-like something you knew you loved to do and you knew you were meant to do it.  Like this woman at the wedding, he talked about not letting fear or insecurities hold you back and that if you had a dream, you should pursue it.

I sat there listening to his words and was brought back to all the times this had been told to me.  First by my mom, then by the woman at the wedding, and now by this TV preacher.  And then I came to realize why my dream of being a writer wasn’t coming to pass-it was because I wasn’t making it happen.  I was just sitting around, waiting for inspiration to hit me when all along I had the inspiration inside myself and it was just waiting to come out.

So I started to change things.  I started writing, even when I didn’t feel like it.  I participated in NaNoWriMo even though I was working all day and exhausted by the time I came home to write.  I started a blog.  I tried to learn more about the art of writing itself.  I started researching publishing opportunities.

And after finally doing it-after finally putting my dream into action instead of just letting it fizzle in my mind-I’m seeing everything slowly come together.  I’m feeling more confident.  I’m happier with my work.  I’m writing more than ever.  I’m finally doing what I want to do.

I’m finally a writer.

So as 2013 comes to a close, I look back at this year as a beginning.  A beginning not only for a hopeful writer career (I’m trying to be optimistic, ha ha), but most importantly a new beginning for myself.  A beginning of a life that is not defined by insecurities and a fear of not succeeding, but a life that is defined by confidence and hope-that even if I never publish or finish a novel or anything, that I at least can say I’m doing what I love and I’m proud to follow my dream.

So thank you, 2013, for my beginning.  And here’s to 2014-whatever it may hold!

Happy New Year, everyone!