MONDAY MUSINGS: “I Quit” slugs it out with “Persistence”….
You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist. ~ Isaac Asimov ~~~~
I quit! These were the words I wrote in my now defunct monthly newsletter (I do enjoying blogging more often) back in the summer of 2010. Oh, I wasn’t talking about not writing any more. In fact, after rereading the newsletter today, I have to say the sentiments and goals I shared then haven’t changed. Thank goodness!
I thought it might be fun today for you to read my original newsletter article. Then, I’ll share what I’ve learned and how far I’ve come in the past year and a half. So pour a glass or cup of your favorite beverage and settle in because this trip down memory lane might be a tad longer than my usual Musings. (The trip is worth it though!)
It was the summer of 2010…
I quit! The sentiment has been on my mind a lot recently. No. I won’t quit writing, although I will admit I considered it…for about 2 nanoseconds. The moment the thought escaped its bounds, my brain stood up, pushed its way to the bully pulpit and shouted in my head, “Hi! My name is Karen Docter, and I’m addicted to writing. It’s been six months, four days and ten minutes since I last wrote my last full chapter! ”
Yeah, not only is my brain entirely too independent for my peace of mind but it’s stubborn as well. It’s a good thing we do love to write together. Most of the time. 🙂
For those who don’t know me well, I’ve been at this awhile. This meaning working toward a career in writing. Awhile translates to when I joined RWA in the latter part of 1991. That’s when I began to think my writing could become my career. Who doesn’t want to make a living out of something we love? I wish we all had the ability to get paid to do what makes us happiest. The world might be a better place!
Sorry. I digress.
And that’s what this Musing is all about. I wish I could say I’ve been walking hand-in-hand with Persistence during all of those intervening years. I did well until after the new millennium kicked in. I was writing traditional and short contemporary full time. I had seven books under my belt and had generated interest in my writing with New York and Canadian editors, even if the projects weren’t quite what were needed at the time. I can write well. I even had an agent who believed in my projects as much as I did.
Then I got hit with several whammies. The publishing lines toward which I’d aimed my projects kept shutting down, forcing me to evaluate my goals and my genre. My agent closed her doors around the same time. I started a personal relationship with debilitating medical issues. My writing hit a long dry spell. While many authors can write through anything, I discovered my threshold didn’t match my yearning. Persistence rolled off the wagon beneath just about everything else.
Yet I’m still not prepared to give up my writing career. Why?
Persistence has been whining in my ear for months now. Every morning she’s right there as I brush my teeth whispering schedule changes in the mirror. “Take 20 minutes between lunch and organizing online classes to review the two prologue versions for KILLING SECRETS.” Persistence is there when I take a break from teaching a class, tugging me toward my laptop. “Kick up your feet to ease the pain and, oh, by the way, take a minute to finetune the victim’s emotional distress after she’s kidnapped.” Persistence accompanies me into the kitchen when I throw dinner into the microwave at 9 p.m. after I’ve shut down my desktop with the intent to decompress from 14 hours of computer work. “Come on! You can at least read through what you wrote last week for IN DANGER’S SHADOW so you’re ready to pick it back up in the morning…after I’ve whispered tomorrow’s schedule changes into your ear!”
Persistence has become…persistent. I’m not quite sure what kicked her in the backside. I can’t say I even noticed it much until she became downright ornery. But, clearly, she’s been sneaking up behind I quit for months and wearing her down.
Hey! You don’t have to hit me up the side of the head twice! Wait. Yes. Evidently you do. But this writer’s getting the message. So I quit.
I quit fighting the inevitable. I quit allowing other things to get in my way, even if my friends throw puppy dog eyes at me to get me on board with a project. I quit dwelling on my health to the detriment of my writing. If I have to go through two surgeries to fix the problems, so be it. I quit pushing my writing, the one thing besides my family and friends that means the world to me, to the back burner of my life. I quit because Persistence is a lot stronger and she’s going to keep kicking my butt until I quit quits.
So. I’m back. Did ya miss me?!
It’s now February 20, 2012….
A lot has changed in the last year and a half. When I wrote that original Musing, I launched back into my life and career with a completely different mindset. I’m now taking better care of me. I split my genres. And last, but not least, I’ve taken my career in my own hands and published my first book.
• Taking better care of me was an imperative first step. In addition to some serious health issues I was not cognizant of or simply ignoring, I had run myself into the ground trying to juggle too many balls. The ball with the word write on it wasn’t even in the air much of the time. It sat on the ground looking up at me with reproach until I picked it up and tried to juggle it with all the others. And my health suffered.
I’ve since learned that Wonder Woman is a comic book hero and I just can’t wear her tights with any panache at all. Many of us, as women, overextend ourselves in some misguided attempt to be the perfect mom, wife, girlfriend, sister, friend, and writer and, the truth is, there’s no such person! If I were to encourage you, writer or reader, to take anything from what I’ve learned it’s to give yourself permission to not be perfect at everything. You’re not doing anyone a favor by killing yourself with unrealistic expectations.
• Splitting my genres gave me room to be truly creative once again. I wrote traditional and short contemporary novels for a long time. I loved the books I wrote. I did well even though I didn’t actually sell for one reason or another. But line closures and my growth toward romantic suspense told me I needed to move on. At the time, it was a good decision but with the recent industry changes, I realized I’d thrown the baby out with the bath water. Moving on to romantic suspense didn’t mean I had to give up on my contemporaries. Besides, my romantic suspense has taken a much darker tone than expected and I find the cute contemporaries are the breath of fresh air I need to offset the darker suspense. Splitting my genres was the best thing I could have done for my creativity.
• Taking my career into my hands and publishing my own projects, quite honestly, had never been on my radar. I didn’t want to go with a digital publisher. Not to diss any of the wonderful digital publishers out there or to the great authors who publish with them, it was impossible for me to see me going that route. I’m “old school” and I had my heart set on print. Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!
Sweeping changes in the industry with the Kindle, Nook, and other self-publishing digital formats, changed my mind quite recently. Like late last fall recently! My critique partners were encouraging, okay, pushing me to finish my current suspense project to take advantage of the new publishing opportunities. I wasn’t ready to push my unfinished baby onto the world. Their response? “So publish one of your contemporary romances. They’re great and readers will love them, and you can take a break from serial killers once in a while.”
I love my critique partners! I have no doubt part of their reasoning was that they had started to get as buried in the darkness of my psychological suspense as I was, but they do know me and my writing. And as they so often are, they were right. That next day, I split my genres, tweaked my website to accommodate two genres, and pulled out one of my favorite contemporary romances – a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart contest – and got to work.
That leads me back to the Isaac Asimov quote I pulled from the internet a year and a half ago. I’ve come full circle. Persistence has finally K.O.d, knocked out and obliterated, I Quit winning the championship round on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, the day I published my debut contemporary romance novel, Satin Pleasures. Since last week, I’ve been feeling like Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky, my hands thrown high as I pump the air with my fists at the top of the stairs in celebration.
I know this is only the beginning. I’ll have to go through the entire process with the next book and the next, and the next after that because I want you, my readers, to get the very best stories I can write for you. I have six brothers in my upcoming romantic suspense series, Thorne’s Thorns. I plan to have the first brother, Patrick Thorne’s story out this summer.
I’m still learning – we won’t even discuss how I’ll add promotions and blogging and reviews, etc. to the balls I’m now juggling — but as long as I keep company with Persistence, I just may see my way clear to recapturing a bit of the Wonder Woman in me.
Nah! Never mind. That’s just so wrong…I still can’t fit into her tights!
[If you’re interested in reading an excerpt of SATIN PLEASURES, I’ve posted one on my website at www.karendocter.com. The book is now available on Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/Satin-Pleasures-ebook/dp/B0078VSY6G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329777162&sr=8-1 and Nook at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/satin-pleasures?keyword=satin+pleasures&store=book for only $3.99.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Yesterday, at noon as promised, I randomly pulled one of the names from the five (5) comments on my February 13th blog post. I’m happy to announce the winner of the #FREE digital copy of SATIN PLEASURES is Gerri Bowen! Congratulations, Gerri! I’ll contact you privately to get your email address so I can send your PDF copy. Thanks, everyone, for commenting!