The Process of Failure

Fear of failure has stalled many a writer. In growing up, we’re taught that failure is bad. Don’t fail your test, don’t fail your classes, don’t fail the team, and don’t fail your family. Just. Don’t. Fail. At anything. When we ‘fail’ we are conditioned to believe that there is something fundamentally wrong with us. We are not worthy of success. (To this I say, “Hooey.”) We can be paralyzed by our seeming inability to do what someone else appears to do effortlessly.

Failure as a writer can take many forms, and it can take us out of our comfort zone in a big way.

  1. Bad reviews of our work, or no reviews at all.
  2. Few or no book sales.
  3. Basic invisibility in the publishing world. No one seems to notice all the hard work you’ve put into your book. What if nobody reads it?
  4. Rejection letters.
  5. Your editor or critique partner doesn’t like the passages that you poured hours of work into and feel are some of your best work, and they suggest you cut them all.

Really, what would happen in your life if any of these things took place? I can tell you every single one has happened to me. And ultimately they didn’t change my life in the ways I thought they would. The sun still comes up, I still go to the evil day job. Still fix dinner, and still struggle to find time to write. Maybe I’ve failed enough times that it doesn’t matter as much as it used to. Or I finally understand that writing is a process, and what others may view as failure is really just part of one’s progression as a writer. I can’t not write, therefore I must continue on.

The act of writing is what brings me joy. Creating a vision with words and sharing it with the world fulfills me like nothing else. And yet, it includes failure. Just like it includes editing, proofreading, formatting and all of the other things that are necessary to make a book happen. Failure simply means discarding things that aren’t working and keeping at it, until you find out what does work. As I’ve come to understand this, failing doesn’t scare me nearly as much as it used to.

Here’s to embracing our failures because truly, they are part of our success.

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About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

Write That Book Newbie!

One of the great things about all the changes in the publishing environment is that anyone can publish a book. If you can read, and follow instructions for the most part, you can be a published author. How cool is that? You don’t need all those stuck up publishing companies and all their hateful gate-keepers who’ve got it in for you and your story. Don’t get me wrong, some of the reputations are well deserved, but not all of them.

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Alas, one of the saddest things about all the changes in the publishing industry is that anyone can publish a book. Sometimes it works out great. The author will make use of all the industry professionals available today. Editors, proofreaders, cover designers, and formatting gurus. They’ll publish a killer story and have fabulous success. And sometimes is doesn’t work out well at all.

If you’ve never written a book before but you have a great idea for one that just won’t leave you alone, at least give yourself the benefit of trying to find out the things you don’t know. Most new writers don’t even know what they don’t know. If this sounds like the voice of experience, it is. I’ve been there. And years later I’m still learning new things about my craft.

This isn’t about me; it’s about your prospective readers. Readers read certain genres over and over again because they enjoy them. These genres have rules. Readers have expectations and they rely on those rules to be entertained.

If you’re a rule-breaker, good for you. But at least do your reader and yourself the service of learning the rules first so you can break them properly. Then the exception will be clear and make sense to your audience.

Where do you learn these rules? Writers groups, writer’s conferences, friends that are writers, writers who’ve written books about how to write in certain genres. One of the concerns I hear most is that if I join a group someone will steal my story idea. Yes, we’ve all heard the horror stories of plagiarism. However, by and large, most writers have so many of their own ideas, they aren’t interested in yours. Do your research. Learn your craft to the best of your ability. Then write your heart out. Write, edit, publish. Repeat. Then repeat again. Here’s wishing you a lifetime of success.

Do you belong to a writer’s group you’d feel comfortable recommending to others? If so, tell us in the comments. Thanks!

 

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

I Don’t Care What You Think

Yes, I do. Really.RTW 250x400 11.17

For a lot of writers, myself included, nothing could be further from the truth. We worry way too much about what the people closest to us might think of our work. Although I’ve heard many reasons why people won’t write a certain way, or in a certain genre, I can only speak for myself.

When I started seriously writing my first book in 2006, I worried. I worried about the language, the settings, the details, the SEX! Whether the door is closed or thrown wide open with invitations included we all know romance has a physical aspect. But what would my ex-MIL think? What about my teacher from high school? Better yet, I wasted countless hours being concerned about how my family and my partner’s family might perceive my work. What would the people in my office think if they found out? I didn’t write for a long time because I struggled with this.

For the sake of argument, I’ll give you the office one. If you’re in particular fields and you write erotica it’s probably best that some people don’t know. But for the rest, looking back on it, the only thing I really did was waste my own time and resources worrying about it. It only mattered to me. Not them.

Over the years when family members ask, ‘So how are your books doing?’ I’ve come to realize they are doing it to be polite. For us introverts, it’s a conversation starter. Nothing more. And the other big one I get from family and friends a lot is, ‘I’m going to read your book, but I haven’t yet because…(insert any reason here, I’ve heard some doozies). Then they go on to talk about the latest book they have read.

Time has given me a little perspective. As a writer, our creative talents are best served when we are true to ourselves. Even writing to the market there are aspects of our stories that come from deep inside us as artists. We should honor that creative energy, not stifle it because someone else may not approve. That’s just sad.

Even if people don’t approve, I’ve come to understand I need to write my story the way I need to write it. Not alter it based on fear. Fear of disapproval, fear of success, or just plain old what if nobody likes it?

What about you? Have you ever worried about this? Did you get over it, or do you still struggle with it?

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

First Rejection

No, no, no…I’m not talking about my first crush in elementary school that crossed his eyes and ran the other direction when I professed my true love. Although I have to say that it could’ve been worse if I hadn’t watched, with my tender heart in pieces, as he slid to a stop and ran into the monkey bars. My best friend’s giggles quickly helped to start the healing process as the teacher picked gravel out of his elbows. My true love today, besides family and friends, would be my stories. Every hurt, joy, stress I feel is woven into my writing. It can get pretty emotional and I sometimes feel the torture I put my characters through. My contemporary stories focus on real life drama and intense relationships in small town America. Rugged cowboys, oh my, and the strong women that fight back when life tries to buck and bully them. And with as much emotion as I put into my stories, can you imagine the anxiety I felt when I first submitted my work to a critique group, and then the pain when the first response was a woman blasting me with tons of red ink? I actually considered quitting as I’m sure many others have done after rejection knocked them for a loop. But I have been truly blessed with my current critique partners, and even a few from the past. They steer me in the right direction with constructive criticism and have taught me so much along the way. They cheer me on and supply chocolate and hugs when I get shot down.

The reason rejections are felt more strongly than normal is because writing is  personal. My stories are something I put my heart into and when they’re rejected, I tend to take it personally. It’s hard not to. I’ve been writing for publication for almost seven years now and received my first rejection letter within three months of submitting. That is a quick response considering I know several writers that have been waiting a year, or two, for an editor to respond. They say that no news is good news. Really? Hand me a silver bucket I can throw up in from the overwhelming anxiety every time the phone rings or bings with notification that I have an email.

I have to admit though, my first editor rejection was a good one as far as rejections go. It was a revise and resubmit. The story was ultimately rejected but the process wasn’t as heartbreaking as I’ve been through since. I think the worst I’ve received was a form letter that they just plugged my name into the greeting. A critique partner received one with her name but the wrong manuscript title. The hard part about those types of rejections is not knowing if you even had a chance. Is there something you need to change or did you just get the wrong editor/agent on the wrong day? When you are receiving multiple rejections, examine the rejection letters (or critiques) and see if you can find common suggestions, mistakes. Do you feel as though you can make the changes without losing your voice?

There are plenty of authors with success stories out there with bestselling books on the market that are proud of the hundreds of rejection letters before they found the one editor, or agent, that led them to success. My first rejection was hard to swallow though I’m sure it could’ve been much worse. I find encouragement when I’m down by reading about how other authors have struggled but they kept plugging away and persevered. My post today sounds like it’s geared more toward the writer, but anyone can apply this post to something they really want to accomplish. Make positive changes if needed, but don’t give up if you really want something. Success is always the best revenge.

Have a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend!

Chelle Sandell

About Chelle Sandell

Contemporary western romance author, Chelle Sandell, was born and raised in southern Oklahoma but has mostly traded her cowboy boots in for flip-flops. That is unless her cowboy feels the occasional need to go boot scootin' across a dance floor. A foodie at heart, leaning toward the sweet treats, you can find her in the kitchen experimenting on her family and friends. She lives out in the country with her very own cowboy, rowdy boys, Hank & Lilly (blue heeler cowdogs), rescue kitties, and a hungry opossum that loves to sneak up at night to eat the cat food on the back porch. An avid reader from way back when, Chelle first found her writing voice when her favorite aunt showed her a historical romance book that mentioned a Native American ancestor that she had been researching. She realized she could weave her own stories that could have the same impact on readers that she felt when reading. Most of her stories are contemporary western romances, but she also has a Western/Native American historical and paranormal romance waiting in line for attention. While Chelle hasn't published yet, she has met some success as a finalist in the Magnolia State Dixie First Chapter Contest, OKRWA's Finally A Bride, and two eHarlequin Editor Pitch contests.

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