Guest Post from Kait Nolan
Keeping The Faith
When Amanda approached me about guest blogging, I was mired in the depths of a deep, black pool of suck. My words sucked. My story sucked. My job sucked. My life sucked. This is, of course, an exaggeration, but it felt really true at the time. And you know, sometimes, when life has you down, you come across the right message at the right time. In the midst of all the suck, I stumbled across a guest post at Adventures in Children’s Publishing written by Myra McEntire called Why You Gotta Believe. I read it. I cried. Then I read it again. Then I pulled myself, hand over hand, out of the mire of the suck because she reminded me of why it’s so, so important to keep the faith.
Writing is a tough business. We all start out as starry-eyed dreamers with stories in our hearts that we simply have to share. We scribble in secret, staying up nights, losing sleep, slaving over our opus. And if we manage to stick it out all the way to The End—a feat many don’t survive—we finally get up the guts to show it to someone we care about, whose opinion we respect. If we’re lucky we receive encouragement. If we’re not we get a, “That’s a nice story, dear, now why don’t you see about getting a real job.” One way or the other, if our passion prevails we move on to the next step.
And as we go along we learn that passion isn’t everything, that we’ve gotta devote time to honing our craft. So we do that, bleeding a little as we carve up our little darlings, but ultimately joyful because it is in the best service of the story. Then, as we step out there, clutching Our Precious to our metaphoric chest, we meet other writers, some who’ve been in the game longer, some who’re even greener than we are. We start following agents and editors and other writers. And pretty soon our starry-eyed dreams are starting to smoke a bit because they’re taking fire from all sides.
We hear story after story about the impossible odds of getting published. Slush piles are taller than Everest. Queries are written, rewritten, burned, written again. Rejections keep coming in waves. Everything’s derivative, nothing’s original, and everybody’s in search of the next Big Thing. Even already published authors are being told by the powers that be, “Don’t quit your day job.” Add to that the massive changes in the publishing structure that mean that the big houses are taking risks on fewer and fewer new authors, instead being more likely to pour resources into guaranteed payouts like Stephen King, Nora Roberts, and Stephanie Meyer.
There are a million and one reasons to lose our faith along the publishing journey. I started out this year with a bang, self-publishing my first novella, Forsaken By Shadow. Then my husband broke his leg and things began going downhill from there. Everything I started, I fumbled through with fits and starts and massive life interruptions. I was exhausted and overworked. My focus was shot. My outlines were crap. My production was down. Months rolled by and here I was in the last quarter of the year with only a bunch of failed and unfinished WIPs to show for it. I had completely lost my confidence in the story I was writing, convinced that every word was manure. To make matters worse, I took my eye off the ball and started obsessing about other indie authors, envying their successes and their lack of multiple jobs (I work two on top of family responsibilities and writing). It left me bitter and frustrated and angry.
So when I stumbled across Myra’s post, it was exactly what I needed. She reminded me of three very important lessons:
1. My publishing journey is mine alone. So there are other authors out there who are only working one job. Still more who are fortunate enough to be able to do nothing but write. Bully for them. That’s not my path and the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. I need to keep my eyes on my own goal, my own plan, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Maybe I’m the tortoise, but everybody knows who won that race.
2. Have faith in the story. The entire point of writing is to share the stories that move us, that speak to us. If you don’t love your story, how can you expect anybody else to? If you’ve fallen out of love with your WIP, go back to the beginning, take it on a date, apologize and see if you can’t figure out what went wrong. Maybe you should take your WIP to your crit partner and have some WIP counseling. Revisions are a beautiful and powerful thing. Don’t be afraid of them.
3. Have faith in yourself. This is the most important one of all. You have to believe that your path to publication—be it indie or traditional—is not just a possibility; you have to believe it will be a reality. If you don’t believe in your dream, nobody else will either.
I gave myself an attitude adjustment, found my mojo. And five days after being inspired by that post, I just wrote “The End” on my next release, Devil’s Eye. It still needs some surgery, but I’ve got faith that you’ll be seeing it in December.
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Kait Nolan is a writer of action-packed paranormal romance that features a fresh and inventive mythology. No sparklay vamps here! She can be found at her website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, MySpace, and Pots and Plots (her cooking blog).