Friday, March 30, 2012

Throwing in the Towel...Again

This is a repost of one of my favorite posts by Krista. She was busy this week preparing for her little Annabelle's heart cath yesterday and so I found a post that many of us can use or relate to. Enjoy...

This publication thing is hard. The faint at heart need not apply.

So, you've decided you're in it for the long haul. You write a few books. You send out a few queries. You attend a few conferences.

Nuthin'.

So you get a critique group, you read a few writing books, you edit a few of those books you wrote, then start the process over again.

Nuthin'.

Nothing except rejection that is.

So when is enough enough? When do you throw in the towel, raise the white flag, slink back to your only-in-my-dreams world?

Some say never. And this might totally be valid. I've heard MANY an author encouraged to "keep going, keep persevering" because publication might be one step around the corner. The stories about pursuing publication for twenty years before it actually happened come to mind.

And that might totally happen to any one of us!!! (well, let's all hope it doesn't REALLY take 20 years!)

But... it also might not.

I don't have the answers to this for you. But I do have a few suggestions.
  • Don't give up. If you're going to do anything, give in. Giving up says "I can't do it." Giving in says, "I can do it, I just want to do something else for a while first." One is quitting... the other is changing your mind. Quitting is for those who are weak, changing your mind or changing direction is for those who are wise.
  • Don't listen to everyone else. "Keep going" might totally be right on track, but if God is whispering for you to move another direction for a while, keep going is being disobedient.
  • Pray. Ask for clear guidance. Be in prayer, talk to your family, and make sure you are on the path God wants for you.
  • Don't be overly sensitive. A rejection letter isn't necessarily a "no" from God about publication in general. Neither is a harsh critique of your work. Many times it just means, "Not yet" or "Not this agent" or "Not this editor" or "You have some more work to do."  It might be backbone building. But don't see every bad writing news as a lightning bolt from Heaven that you're doing wrong. You'll be shocked most every time:-) 
  • Take a break. I can't remember where I heard this first, but I've heard it many times. When all else fails, walk away for a little while. Take a week, a month, a year sabbatical. Then reassess. If that pit desire in your stomach is still there, then go back. If it has fizzled, then you have your answer as well.
Most of all.... HAVE FUN WHILE YOU WRITE!!! This reminds me of playing basketball in the 5th grade. I was HORRIBLE at it. But I had so much fun doing it! And I tried my VERY best. Never got on the "A" team... but I sure had fun trying. If you're going to be writing for 20 years... it would stink to be miserable the whole time!!!

Having fun makes the journey, no matter the end, much more enjoyable!

Because there are sometimes... when you are scratching your head and about to take the throwing towel plunge, something amazing happens. Last week (revised... last YEAR now!) that happened to me when I finally landed my dream agent, Rachelle Gardner. I'd had a year of struggling with my writing while I went through a personal tragedy with my daughter, and when I was really trying to reassess just how much effort I needed to be spending on my writing, confirmation came that the towel needed to stay firmly within my grasp. 

Discussion: Have you thought about taking the throwing towel plunge? Since you are reading this... odds are you haven't yet, or decided to keep going. What kept you going? Have you ever taken a "break"?


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Krista is a follower of Jesus, a wife, a mother, and a contemporary romance author. She recognizes that life can be frustrating and just plain not fun sometimes, but believes that laughter and smiles can make the not-so-fun a little better! She blogs about the amazing things God has been doing and her journey as a busy momma of 4 and caregiver to a daughter with a rare congenital heart defect at http://reflectionsbykrista.blogspot.com. She is represented by the fab agent, Rachelle Gardner, and her debut novel, Sandwich, With a Side of Romance, releases September 1, 2012.

4 comments:

Lindsay Harrel said...

Great article. I recently realized I was going too hard and neglecting other things, like my marriage, in the process. So I have stepped back, just for a month or two, to read craft books (less pressure, but still helpful in my journey) and take time out to spend with my hubby. It's made a world of difference.

Jeanne T said...

Great points here, Krista. After attending an intensive retreat last year, I felt overwhelmed. As a new writer, I needed to take a step back and let everything I'd heard percolate in my brain for awhile. I tried my hand at other forms of writing, but I came back to my story, because, well God gave it to me. So, I want to write it. :)

Hope everything is okay with your daughter.

Melissa Tagg said...

Taking a break...that's an awesome tip.

I've had "Why am I doing this?" moments, but haven't quite reached the "I'm done!" stage. God seems to send encouragement zipping in just when I need it. But I notice anytime I get close to mega frustration, it's usually because I've crept too close to putting my dream before God.

My other favorite tip of yours - have fun!

Kristy L. Cambron said...

After identifying a specific need in our lives, my husband and I agreed that I would take a break from writing for a week so we could focus on prayer together. I stepped away from blogging, Facebook, texting - even writing my novels. And felt blessed and refreshed because of it!

Keep us updated on your daughter. We will be praying for her.