Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Meet Problem Child

My turn in the confessional.

I know most writers say they’ve been writing since birth (or in Lindsey’s case, in utero). Sorry, I’m not one of them. I told myself stories, though. At night, as I’m drifting off to sleep, I tell myself a bedtime story. Always have.

Nowadays, I’m usually working on the current WIP, but when I was younger, my stories were more of the Mary Sue fanfic variety. But I never wrote any stories down.

Now, let’s digress to a little run-down of my resume. There was the whole ballet thing, which left me with scars from three foot operations, a bum knee, arthritis, and my eating disorder. There were several jobs in the food service industry that supported me through college. My first real job was for a non-profit organization, where (among other duties) I started doing event planning. Then we moved up to Huntsville, where I did conference and workshop planning for a group of scientists. Then came grad school (and more food service), and I started teaching.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, I started saying I was going to write a book. Those stories I’d been telling myself quit being of the fanfic variety and more of my own characters and plots. Although I told a few people I was going to write a book, I never sat down to do it. Time was an issue (as it is for most writers with day jobs or a thesis to write), but I didn’t have the drive. Looking back, I just don’t think I was ready.

After AC was born, the desire to write became strong. I’m not sure why. I stumbled around, wrote some bad stuff, and, in general, didn’t accomplish much. Then I heard about a writing workshop at one of the local colleges. I actually came back early from a trip to Scotland in order to attend. That’s where I heard about Heart of Dixie and RWA. That sparked something, and I started learning more about writing, but it was several more months until I bucked up and joined. Even then, it was a couple of more months before I got serious. Yes, the longest journey starts with the first step, but making that first step requires courage, faith, and determination. It took a while for all three to kick in for me and get my butt in a chair.

My biggest obstacle to overcome is probably myself. There’s the fear of failure, of course. There’s that nagging little inner voice that tells me I’m just not good enough. (I come from an artistic background— I know full well what it means to be “good” but not “good enough” and how big that gap can be.) I’m also a procrastinator and a piddler— I’ll put things off by piddling with other things. Unless I’m seriously motivated, I’ll find twenty-seven other things on my to-do list that need to be done. And, Problem Child attitude aside, I can get frustrated and hurt pretty easily. Last week’s rejection letter hit me pretty hard and left me wondering if I’d forever be stuck at “good” and never make the cut of “good enough.”

But I know I’m lucky. I have the Playfriends to support me and lead the cheers. They also nag like you wouldn’t believe. (And in this game, nagging is often needed.) The Darling Geek is 100% supportive of this dream— I don’t have to listen to “why don’t you get a real job?” or justify the time and money it takes to pursue publication. The Mavens believe in me, and sometimes that I-have-to-justify-their-faith-in-me feeling is what gets me to the keyboard. Once I made the jump from just telling myself I was going to write a book to a community that expects me to produce said book (and other books), the dynamic changed. It has become a time of put-up-or-shut-up, and that, more than anything, makes me block out that nagging inner voice, suck up the hesitation, and get to work. And I couldn’t be happier or proud of myself for making that commitment to myself and my (future) career.

(Yes, the desire to write (or to succeed at anything) has to come from inside first. But the courage to actually do it sometimes needs shoring up from outside sources. During our birthday this month, many of you have thanked us for being here. Let me just say for the record: We thank you for coming here and adding your voices to the support system. The books and prizes we give away are the only way we can show that appreciation. And it’s pretty small in comparison for what y’all give to us.)

So I’m moving past the frustration and hurt of my last rejection letter and getting back to the WIP. I made a new goal list yesterday as part of my birthday musings, and if I’m going to meet those goals this year, I’d better get cracking. Nothing like a deadline to overcome that obstacle of procrastination.

Hmmm, feels like I should be giving away pom-poms as my prize today, but I’m fresh out. A book and a 2007 planner for your goals will have to do.

(Angel 's winner from yesterday is Kathy. Congrats! Contact Angel for your prize!)


robynl said...

'the longest journey starts with the first step, but making that first step requires courage, faith, and determination.'
Congrats on getting to the point where you knew it was the right time to take the first step. I find this so true in many things in life. I even face this 'first step' when it comes to health issues like time for a mammogram, time to go to the dentist, etc. I just am scared to hear bad results and it takes some courage to make the appointment. Once it is done and the results are fine I wonder why I didn't do it sooner.

Joan said...

I agree with you about writing. As a child, I hate to write. I was reader still I'm. I admired people who can write and try to write!! Every body thinks that little girls like to write but that is not the true. I was a tomboy.

Dannyfiredragon said...


I can only second what Robyn said, the first step requires a lot of courage, but in the end it's great to see that you have success in what you really want to do.

Maureen said...

Thanks for sharing your story. It's quite an accomplishment to have gotten to this point already. Not everyone is tough enough for the journey you're taking.

KimW said...

ahhhh...I love reading these stories. You are definitely going to be successful and we'll all be here celebrating with you when the news comes.

My goal...sigh...exercise and lose weight. Hopefully I'll succeed at this.

Theresa N. said...

As far as I'm concerned if you're writting and putting it out there, you're already a success.

alissa said...

Determination and persistence will definitely have results. As long as you persevere and believe in yourself you will succeed.
Your drive and your creative ability will have a big influence upon your goal.

blueberri said...

Problem Child, that was truly inspirational. You have the magic touch!

My goals in life are to see others around me happy and content and to pursue my dream of writing.

ellie said...

You are moving in the right direction and have the motivation from your playfriends which is great. Your patience and talent will have wonderful results in the future.

joelle said...

To achieve what we want in life is part drive and part talent. You have both so you are fortunate. But it does take time which is hard. You have the best support group possible. Luck is on your side.

Meljprincess said...

Excellent post. I can relate to the "not being ready".
It's wonderful that you have so many people cheering you on. The Playfriends as well as US your faithful blog readers and writers. :-)

Kathy said...

Wow! Thanks for the blog win, Angel. I'm verklempt! Talk amongst yourselves whilst I gather my thoughts...(wipes tears, fans face...) :-)

What a wonderful post, PC. You show us through your example that sacrifices made for art leave scars however subtle or poignant. Though the pain follows us through life, the joy, the urge, enthusiasm to continue creating art, through whatever means, does not die, even after setbacks. Like a butterfly emerging from a coccoon, the art blossoms, experiences metamorphosis in order to find the right form and audience. But like the butterfly undergoing metamorphosis, time is needed to nurture the beauty.

Starting out as an art student then transforming that visual art form into something that others can see through the written word, I've seen a change in how I view the world and want to convey my experience back to the world. While art can become 3 dimensional, a created world with intriguing characters, love, suspence, adventure, all potentially touch the human senses. In a book, one can feel, touch, smell, see, hear the created world. Oh, to be able to touch someone with words, to create something that can transform someone's emotions, perhaps bring joy into someone's life. This is why we love to write. This is the legacy, the art, our chosen form. Through words your elegant dips and piroettes, PC, can still be seen even though your body might not be as young and flexible as it once was.

Cue the orchestra. The dance is yours, mine, and everyone else's who loves to write. Dare we put on our dancing shoes? Suffer through call-backs? Overcome stage fright? Today and everyday, PC, you've taught us that we can.


Lori Borrill said...

I will never forget a friend who looked at me in awe when I'd told her I'd completed two novels. At the time, I hadn't sold either. But her words will always stay with me. She'd said, "My God, I'm SO PROUD of you! Do you know how many people say they're going to write a novel and never get past the first paragraph?!"

I know another woman who has been working on the same book for 15 years. She has "Author" on her business cards, yet she's never written a word. For 15 years, the book is still in concept.

Point being, just the act of deciding to do something and then actually doing it, of deciding to write a book and then really writing it, of learning the industry, targeting a publisher then submitting the work to said publisher puts you 10,000 steps beyond 99% of the people in this world who call themselves writers.

We hang with the same crowd here and tend to take these things for granted. Our accomplishments get dismissed as we focus out sites solely on that elusive "Call". To us, it doesn't seem like a big deal to finish something and submit work, because that's what our friends have done.

But believe me, when you step away from it all and see how much you've already done compared to most "writers" on this planet, you've already achieved success in countless ways.

Amanda Ann said...

one of your "regulars" sent me over, Marilyn Shoemaker. Great site by the way.

Well I never wrote either, I more like day dreamed, and read books and i would trail off in my hea and pretend i was the lady, or i would even mak my own part in, silly i know. i started with writing poems, and when i got into high school i dreamed of writing a book, and now i'm ( oh so SLOWLY) doing it LOL. Great blog subject honey keep up the great work!!!

Joan said...

My goals are to get a job. Help out anybody that I can. to become a better person.

Jennifer Y. said...

Hmm...I tell myself bedtime stories as I go to sleep too....always have...that and I rewrite stories and movies in my head. I am still just a reader though...haven't tried writing.

Carol said...

Congrats Kathy!

I think it's wonderful to be able to write a book and to have the courage to make the attempt. I wish I could do it but writing is something I've never been good at. I will always be a reader and I can't wait to read your book! :)

Lois said...

I don't think I ever could be a writer. . . that first rejection letter, I don't think my lousy self esteem could handle it! LOL :)


Amanda Ann said...

smartie pants....you know my aunt has a book store with that name...LOL excellent!!!

Smarty Pants said...

A bookstore named after me? How sweet. I don't even know the lady... :)


Anonymous said...

With your positive attitude and the talent that you were given you are already halfway there. Since your ambition is to succeed it looks like there will be a time very soon when you are a full fledged and known writer. The faith is necessary as well as striving for the goal.

catslady said...

congrats kathy!

Great post and very inspiring. Having the confidence to go for your dream is a wonderful thing.

Tam said...

My goal is to try and loose some weight. Try to read a few mor books. :o)

Playground Monitor said...

I need to do some serious flab firming in 2007. And given that I haven't written a word in about two weeks, I need to get back in the saddle in that department. Of course, I have to finish my Christmas shopping, wrap everything, mail part of it, write the annual Christmas letter and do the Christmas cards. The house is decorated. Yay!

I've been giving a lot of thought lately to what I want to accomplish for 2007. I'm still thinking. But whatever they are, they won't happen on their own.

I love this quote from Calvin Coolidge: Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.


Pat said...

Hi, just found this site. Thanks, Marilyn. And today is MY daughter's birthday.

Karen T. said...

Hi, figured since today is my bday and my mom sent me over, I better post before day ends.

Happy to have found this site also.

Congrats to you.