Time to be Honest

Yesterday, I sat down with half a tub of left-over chocolate icing and a spoon, and had a good talk with myself. (Yes, I talk to myself. I also answer myself. Sometimes I even do what I tell myself to do.  And if you must know, I also talk to the cats. The only thing proving my sanity is that I know they don’t talk back.) The thing is, I couldn’t bring myself to work on my own manuscript, the one that’s a finalist in the Genesis Contest. I had two other options: I could read the book I bought to learn more about my genre or work on the manuscript I’m considering for Port Yonder Press.

Instead of doing any of the three jobs facing me, I sucked chocolate off the spoon and wondered why I wasn’t more enthusiastic about working on my own manuscript. I got honest with myself then and realized: I’m discouraged.

Let me start with this: I’m discovering that the books I write don’t fall into the formula of “Romance” that Love Inspired wants. I’m learning that through reading Gail Gaymer Martin’s Groom in Training, published by Love Inspired, and through one of the contest judges who flat-out told me my book wasn’t a romance and was entered in the wrong genre (she deducted points accordingly, then proceded to whack my score down almost thirty points lower than the other judges). Ride got the same verdict from White Rose Press, among others.

In a way, it’s true. Although my characters develop an attraction and fall in love, my novels don’t concentrate on the mushy stuff. Nothing freezes my fingers faster than having to write a romantic scene or flirty dialogue. Maybe I’m old. Maybe I’ve been married too long and I’ve forgotten what it’s like. These days, true love means changing the oil in my car. Stopping by to pick up the dry cleaning. Buying me cranberry juice upon the discovery that Crohn’s patients are susceptible to kidney stones, and my favorite brand of yogurt because it’s supposed to help the digestion. I doubt that anyone under forty would recognize these acts as signs of romance.

But let’s say miracles happen and Love Inspired publishes Ride. I have to help promote the book. I have to get my name “out there” so people will buy it. They call it “building a platform.” In the world of writing and publishing, a “platform” is the group of folks you have access to who would be likely to buy your material. If I were a popular actress, I’d have a nationwide platform. If I were a reporter with KBTX, I’d have a local platform.

I’m an unknown housewife in a mid-sized Texas town with only a smattering of family and friends as a platform. And I stink at networking and getting myself “out there.”

These are the two top reasons I’m discouraged. There are many others, but these are enough.

A friend of mine has asked several times whether I would write “anyway”–even if I never get published, even if no one sees my work, I’d write “anyway,” right?

I always say yes, but in all honesty, the truth is no. I wouldn’t. I don’t write for the love of writing. Even though I study writing and write about writing and seem obsessed with writing, the craft itself doesn’t motivate me.

Last July, in my post, “Why Do I Write,” I said:

Words woven into a colorful tapestry can elicit raw emotions, and that is what I love. Whether laughter, tears, or deep reflection, the response is what keeps me weaving words together. Those words land on paper now instead of flying through a microphone, and the response isn’t as immediate, but telling the story is still my passion.

Although I dedicate my work to the Lord and pray that what I write glorifies Him, I don’t believe He called me to write. Or maybe I should put it this way: I’m not at all sure I’ve been called. I write for an audience. If no one read my words, I’d see no point in putting them on paper or on the screen. I love to tell the story and elicit the response–the “laughter, tears, or deep reflection.” Whether that means I write for self-glorification or self-confirmation or any other selfish reason, I don’t know, but I don’t think so. Even though I don’t feel called to write, the bulk of everything I’ve written since I learned to form letters has been God-centered.

Maybe this is just a mood. I’ve never tried to quit writing, so I don’t know whether I could if I wanted to. Maybe my problem is impatience. As I’ve said before, the wheels of publishing turn slow. And really, being a two-time finalist in a nationwide contest is plenty of affirmation that I’m a good writer–but the dwindling readership of this blog is evidence enough that I’m lousy at building up my platform. An author should post about writing, I know. But writer’s blogs are a dime a dozen and most of them are far better than anything I could come up with.

Ah. Like I said. This is probably a mood.

Pass the chocolate.

About Linda W. Yezak

Author/Freelance Editor/Speaker (writing and editing topics).
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20 Responses to Time to be Honest

  1. Naomi Musch says:

    This is a terrific and candid post. I know exactly what you are saying, to a “T”.

    I, too, discovered a while ago that I don’t write “romance”, even though there are romantic scenes and love stories in the story. I heaved a breath of relief when an agent…or was it an editor…told me that it sounded like “women’s fiction”. Now that I think of it, this may have come from White Rose also. Okay; I can deal with that.

    I also write l.o.n.g. I’m pretty good at picking a word count and aiming for it and getting there. But somewhere back at the beginning of my favorite work, I shucked notions of word length and just wrote the thing. I ended up about 36,000 words over any reasonably acceptable limit. I’ve since carved out about 20,000, though it was excruciating. It’s still long, and I’m not sure I could get rid of more than another couple hundred words. So now I’m limited in my potential markets. Very limited.

    Sometimes it’s just very easy to feel like your swimming in a gold fish bowl, going round and round and getting nowhere. But I like to take comfort in Eric Liddell’s words (Chariots of Fire) when he said, “I feel (God’s) pleasure when I run.” I feel God’s pleasure when I write. I don’t know if my favorite writing will ever see print, but I feel His pleasure to exercise my gift, my craving, my…whatever it is. Maybe it’s just practice for whatever I’ll be doing later on, in eternity.
    Naomi

    Like

  2. pprmint777 says:

    You do indeed know what I mean. My problem is the opposite, though. I’m limited in publisher choice because my book is too short.

    I really appreciate your take on Liddell’s quote. That definitely makes me feel better.

    Thanks so much!!!!

    Like

  3. Linda,

    I suggest you put away the chocolate and take some time alone with the Lord in prayer. Having doubts doesn’t mean you are not called to write. My intent in saying that is not to persuade you that you are called (I can’t know for you) but rather to direct you to the source of all wisdom.

    In my own loooong journey to publication, that’s the point the Lord and I had to clarify. Once I placed my writing as ministry at His feet, He made it clear to me that I am called to write. Did I still have doubts when faced with setbacks? Oh, you betcha, but I ignored them and chose to walk by faith. I’m convinced we writers are missionaries to a fallen world. As such, we face all of the difficulties of missionaries to foreign lands with a whole lot less support.

    Seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness and the rest will follow. Someone wise whose name I’ve forgotten once said, “Write for an audience of One.”

    Like

  4. pprmint777 says:

    Thanks for the words of wisdom, Janalyn!

    Like

  5. Shaddy says:

    Similar to you, one day last week, I held a spoon in my right hand and a plastic tub of vanilla frosting in my other hand. I don’t know how it happened but somehow the spoon made its way into the frosting and soon the tub was empty and I felt somewhat ill.

    I hate it when that happens! Maybe I should try juggling with chocolate frosting next time.

    Like

    • pprmint777 says:

      I also have a tub of leftover strawberry icing. I always have leftovers because I don’t like to put so much on the cake. Sounds silly to prevent cake calories just to consume the same amount straight from the tub!

      Like

  6. K.M. Weiland says:

    Ah, gee. I hate that you’re discouraged. You are good enough to be published, and, God willing, you *will* be published, genres be hanged. Maybe Naomi has a point about shopping in the wrong genre. Women’s fiction covers a lot of ground; I bet there’s a spot in there for funny, sassy, sweet stories like yours.

    I’ve never been in the place you’re at. I’d write even if I was on a desert island with no one but the monkeys to listen to me read my stories. I often tell people that if they don’t *have* to write, they probably shouldn’t. It’s just not worth it. But I, for one, would be very sad to see an end to your captivating tales!

    Like

    • pprmint777 says:

      Aw, thanks, Katie. I wish I could figure out this stupid mood I’m in, but it’s sure not conducive writing comedy!

      Like

  7. Sally Bishop says:

    I posted this today. Maybe you would benefit from the excercise of a lifeline timeline. See where you’ve been. What roads you have travelled. What directions may be worth changing.

    http://livelearnwithsally.blogspot.com/2010/05/lifeline-timeline.html

    In the words of Helen Stiener Rice
    “And This Too Shall Pass”

    http://www.pinkpoem.com/inspirationalpoems/songsofhope/shallpass.html

    Like

  8. pprmint777 says:

    I read the post, Sally, and you’re absolutely right. I think I need time for prayer and reflection right now. Also a re-evaluation of what I really want out of my writing career.

    Thanks so much!

    Like

  9. Great post and one I identify with. I think many of us writers are introverts. And that’s a good thing because we have more of a tendency to examine ourselves and others, leading to greater insights. But that works against us when we have to “push” our book.

    I’ve wanted to be a published writer since I was twelve but now I’m frightened at the prospect. Sure I would like to be published if they’ll publish the book and not bother me with the details!

    Like you I have health problems and wonder how my health will handle the stress. But I’m putting it in God’s hands.

    Hope you find peace and get back to your writing!

    Like

  10. pprmint777 says:

    Oh, amen, Sheila! Just publish it and leave me alone! But from what I understand, those days–if they ever existed–are gone.

    I put it in God’s hands, then yank it so I can fret a little more. After all these years, you’d think I’d know better!

    Like

  11. Jamie D. says:

    I’ve been where you are. And I did stop writing – for years. Found out I couldn’t, and started writing again.

    Recently I found out that the MS I’d been working on to submit to Harlequin (sound familiar?) wouldn’t fit the line I wanted it to. So I decided to rewrite it to fit the line, and I’m working on that now. I know not everyone wants to do that, but it’s part of my business plan for writing. Yes, I know it’s very un-artistic of me to have a business plan, but I eventually do want to make money writing.

    I used to feel like it wasn’t worth the effort if no one would see it – and that’s why I started my serial novels on the blog. I can’t submit them anywhere (because they’re considered published), but I plan to edit/revise and self-publish them as they’re finished. Frankly, getting feedback from my blog readers keeps me all the more motivated to keep working on the private WIPs that I hope to traditionally publish someday. It helps to know that a few people at least enjoy my stories. Something to think about. If you crave an audience, then put some free stuff out there -short stories, excerpts, a serial…do what you need to do in order to ease that mental ache. 🙂

    As for a writer’s blog – I’ve come to the realization that for marketing purposes, a writer’s blog should focus more on potential readers than other writers, and I’ve been made shifts accordingly to try to include *readers* more. And it seems to be working, from what I can tell. I don’t know if you have statistics you can look at, but I’ll tell you that far more people read my blog then comment on it. 😉

    Chin up! Make your writing do what you want it to – even if that means stepping outside conventional bounds. Otherwise there’s no point in going to the effort, IMO.

    Like

  12. pprmint777 says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience and words of wisdom with me, Jamie! All the encouraging comments I’ve received here and through personal emails have gone a long way toward helping me out of this slump.

    I especially like what you said about your blog. This one is ecclectic. That’s all there is to it. If folks want to read writers tips etc, they can go to my other site, AuthorCulture. As for Peppermint Place, there’s no telling what you’ll find when you get here, and my regular readers know it.

    With prayer and reflection and the support of my friends, I feel so much better. I’m embarrassed about this post because it sounds like a big ol’ “poor me,” but hearing from everyone has been so valuable.

    Thanks again!

    Like

  13. Lorna G. Poston says:

    Linda,

    I’m sorry you’re discouraged. What I’ve read of Ride is good, and I’d love to see it in print.

    Have you ever read Texas Cooking by Lisa Wingate? That book and the two to follow are funny, sassy, love-develops romance story, but it doesn’t fall under the romance genre. She calls it Women’s Fiction and the series found a home.

    Don’t give up, okay? God’s timing isn’t the same as ours. Ride deserves to be published.

    Like

    • pprmint777 says:

      Thanks Lorna. I think Women’s Fiction would be a good fit. It’ll be interesting to see how my latest WIP is judged in the final round of Genesis. One thing’s for certain, I can always tell a L.I. judge!

      Like

  14. My hubby, who gives himself daily pep talks in the mirror, says that to talk to yourself is a sign of intelligence and to answer yourself back is a sign of genius.

    I just went through a similar thing with my current WIP. I felt a little discouraged after a session with my critique group a few weeks ago. Satan pummeled me with self-doubts and what ifs too. So I took a couple of weeks off from it to mull over the excellent comments made by my friends. I used the time to catch up on some other projects around the house and in the yard. It helped a lot. One of the things I realized is that I had lost focus on why I was writing the book in the first place. I worked on my book for an hour today and feel really pumped about getting back to it next week.

    Like

    • pprmint777 says:

      Your husband and I would get along splendidly!!!

      I’ve had some time off from my WIP, and I’ll stick my toe back in the water soon. I can work without being inspired, but I can’t seem to work without enthusiasm for my piece.

      I’m going to call my WIP Women’s Fiction, then write it the way I want to. If I can get the word count high enough, I won’t be so limited in the publishers I can submit to.

      As for marketing, I’ll figure that out as I go.

      Like

  15. So I missed this earlier. And I read it last night. But I couldn’t comment. But I thought about it all night. In fact, I think I even dreamed about you.

    Anyway.

    You said, “I’m an unknown housewife in a mid-sized Texas town with only a smattering of family and friends as a platform. And I stink at networking and getting myself “out there.”

    I say, “You are the daughter of the King, a princess, and this world is not your home. Your Dad commands the universe and is Master of getting out there what He wants out there when and where He wants it.”

    You said, “Whether laughter, tears, or deep reflection, the response is what keeps me weaving words together.”

    I say, “You make me laugh, cry and reflect. Keep weaving, sister.”

    I wish I’d been in the audience that night when you were in college. As you write, maybe you need to think of that time, you on stage spilling your book to a full house–with One standing in back applauding.

    And for when you need to promote your book, think about the live performances you’ll be able to give.

    And I like the idea of women’s fiction–heavy on comedy with a hint of romance.

    And I love your blog.

    And my mom’s words of wisdom to me still ring, “This, too, shall pass.” I don’t think she ever said, “Pass the chocolate, though.” I learned that on my own.

    And so all that was pretty rambling. And your mood has probably passed now.

    And I’m such a newbie I probably haven’t a clue what I’m talking about.

    But you bless me.

    And I can’t wait to read that book!

    Like

  16. pprmint777 says:

    Sandy, I don’t know how I missed your comment, unless the notice landed in my spam file.

    How I wish we lived closer together! I’d run over to your house right now and give you a big ol’ hug. Your sweet words of encouragement made me cry, and even now, almost a full month since I wrote this post, I needed them.

    Thank you.

    Like

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