Putting your words out there in the cold, cruel world is never easy. Today Handsome Hansel of Dance of Romance is back with his regular column, tackling the depressing but highly relevant topic of Naysayers.
As writers we are overly observant people to begin with. We are empathizers, sympathizers, and caregivers, not only to our characters but our writing as a whole. We feel and experience on levels most don’t understand. We can’t help it. Which is why, when someone smirks when we say we are writing a novel or rolls their eyes when we get enthusiastic over a plot line we came up with, it hurts.
The pendulum of emotions swings both ways when it comes to our writing. There are a lot of positives in writing: finishing that first draft, winning a writing contest, helping design your cover art, etc. There are a lot of negatives too and almost all of them come from the naysayers who cross our writing paths.
For me it started with a couple of close friends. I had written a few short stories early on not intending for anyone to read them but me. I was getting my feet wet and seeing if I even had the personal stamina to stick with a story long enough to complete it. There was one story I was a bit proud of and was rereading it one day as my friends stopped by. They noticed my hardcopy sitting on my coffee table and asked what I was reading. Catching me at a proud moment, I confessed it was a story I had written and that I was doing some editing.
Of course the first thing they asked was, “Why are you writing?” After a shrug of my shoulders, one of my friends proceeded to sit on my couch and read it. Since the story was only twenty three pages long it didn’t take long for him to get to, “It’s not half bad.”
The conversation persisted to what my intentions were with my writing and I made the rookie mistake of saying I’d like to write professionally. Not as a magazine writer or blogger but as a full fledged novelist. (Cue eye-rolls)
While the story my friends read wasn’t romantic in nature I threw out that I was considering writing romance novels. (Cue snickering)
I blame the second Gentleman Jack I had that night for revealing what became an embarrassing admission but it was out there now and there was nothing I could do about it. I had taken the first step to admitting becoming a writer was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
Little did I know that was only the beginning of the Naysaying I would encounter. Emboldened, I proceeded to let others in on my secret. It wasn’t easy hearing the skepticism in the voices of friends and family. There were words of encouragement as I sat across from them but I could tell the first thing out of there mouth once I left would be, “What the hell is he thinking?”
I blamed the unknown. These people surrounding me had never (that I knew of) tried to write anything. It wasn’t their forte anymore than mine would be rodeoing. I came to the conclusion I had to go back to keeping my writing to myself if I was to not be discouraged.
I started searching out other writers on Twitter and FaceBook. I also joined a couple of Romance Writers Groups which helped tremendously. Surrounding yourself with other like minded people does wonders for your self-esteem and outlook. I felt home.
Foolishly, I believed I had exorcised the naysayers from my life. Boy was I wrong. I allowed a couple of pros read one of my longer writings. One was an editor, the other a local, small publisher. I had my first book done but was hell bent on not letting anyone see it at this point. I wanted to hear what they had to say about my writing in general so that I could carry it over into my book before I made a complete fool of myself professionally.
Needless to say, the naysayers were back. This time they knew about writing and what I was and wasn’t capable of producing. I thought my friends comments hurt, the constructive criticism from local pros was deafeningly gut wrenching.
While I never thought my writing was all-encompassing in its perfection, I was, very proud of it. After the critiques…not at all proud. I doubted myself. Again and again and again. I didn’t write for a while afterwards. I had become my own worst naysayer.
My naysaying was the hardest to get over. The mental blocks were too strong, too fortified to break through. It took me attempting to read a novel I had picked up on a display at my local library. They were featuring other authors from my state. The cover was interesting, the blurb on the back intriguing. Later that night I cracked the cover and began reading. It was AWFUL!
I checked the publisher and it was a mid-sized publisher from the east coast. The author hadn’t put this book out himself. There was hope for me yet! It sounds silly and perhaps a bit unprofessional but I felt if the book I was holding could get published, my writing could too.
Having returned the book after reading only the first fifteen or so chapters, I delved back into my works-in-progress. I returned with an open mind a realization that becoming a professional writer is going to be a learning process, a growing process. I’m not going to ever be as good as I think I am. There will always be those out there who will critique me back to reality. It’s up to me to see their naysaying, not as a negative, but as a positive. A step closer to being the writer my readers demand of me.
How do you deal with Naysayers? How do you respond to people who (boo! hiss!) make cracks about writing romance?
The last time New York Times Best Selling Author ERIN KELLISON joined us at RU, she was a participant in a panel discussion when she was a debut author. On Wednesday, Erin is a full-fledged Visiting Professor at RU!
Bio: Like most of us, I’ve been around the block a time or two (or three) in the relationship world. I like to think of myself as having a pretty thick skin, however, that skin doesn’t surround the heart.
I’ve been in love; I’ve been in lust. I’ve been hurt and got up to do it all again, each time having learned more of myself as well as “wants” and “don’t wants” for my next relationship. Amazingly enough, I never gave up on that one true love wrapped in Romance. You can visit me here, at http://thedanceofromanceonline.com
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