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Overcoming Discouragement & Rejection

Being a writer isn’t an easy path. It takes years to perfect your style and voice. You spend most of your time sending out material to be rejected over and over again. So it is a necessity to develop a thick skin early on if you hope to survive the process of being successfully published. This is something that every writer struggles with to some degree. We wouldn’t write stories if we didn’t want people to read them and actually like them. But readers are often fickle and you can’t please everyone.

Some of us are blessed with people who believe in us. Family members encourage us to pursue a passion. They want to see us happy and fulfilled. When we finally show them what we’ve been working on for months or years, they tell us how wonderful it is. They know how much time we’ve put into it. They don’t want to burst our bubble or discourage us, so instead of being completely honest, they sugar coat and tell us to keep going. This isn’t a bad thing. We need those people in our lives. We need that cheering squad. But if that’s all we surround ourselves with dealing with rejections and discouragement can be a death sentence to the dream.

When I was a kid, I was most often surrounded by the side of my family that was full of people who constantly made me feel like nothing I did was good enough. They didn’t see my artistic side as an asset or something to be celebrated. In fact, it landed me in a good heap of trouble with them on more than one occasion. I’ve been a black sheep in the family for years because of it. Believe me, I wear that badge proudly now. Their influence helped me to develop that thick skin and temperment needed to continue despite the rejection and criticism.

I was listening to some vlogs and podcasts about social media and how to gain following etc. And something clicked about what Lisa with Lachri Fine Art said about target audience. Now, granted she is talking about art as opposed to writing. However, the concept is the same. You can choose to go to a general art festival because your work is “for everyone”. But, you draw dogs and do dog portraits. So maybe setting up at a dog show is a better idea. You really can’t expect everyone out there to like your work. And, the internet is full of trolls and people waiting to pounce and kill the dream over technicalities. So try to silence the critics.

You see, for me, I tend to keep things pretty close to the vest. I don’t talk about the rejection often because I process the hurt with my journal and morning pages. I put it on the page and I try to just let it go. I remind myself after the venting process of why I write. I sum it up with a list of reasons to keep going.

  • There are people who like my work.
  • I am always growing as a writer.
  • Each piece I produce is better than the last and that usually brings a new reader along with it.
  • The positive feedback is always a boost and it does happen even when it isn’t family or friends giving it out. The first time I had an Amazon review that wasn’t a family member or friend, I was on cloud nine for weeks and wrote more than I had in months.
  • This is who I am and what I do. It is the one thing that I cannot imagine my life without.
  • And somewhere out there is someone who needs to read the story I produce. I don’t know the reasons. I don’t know how they will come to find it. My job is to be brave enough to put it out there so that they can find it.

Part of that bravery is knowing that the critics are a dime a dozen. And it will often seem like their sole purpose is to pull you down and make you quit. Well, for me, I dealt with enough of that growing up. I was fiesty enough to do it anyway then, and I’m still just as fiesty today. So I keep following my dream, writing my stories, and being brave.

So should you if you’re pursuing an artistic career. Whether you sing, write, create art, or something else entirely; don’t let the world take your passion away. If it brings you joy then it is worth it. Even when it isn’t easy.

I am still finding my feet in the marketing department. But I’m confident that, with time, things will continue to grow and I’ll meet more readers and writers. I know I won’t be everyone’s favorite. That’s okay. At least I’ll find that some people out there do like what I do and they are the ones I want to write for anyway.

If you’re curious about what I write you can hop on over to my Amazon Author Page for a list of my current releases.  And you can always join me over on social media. The buttons at the top will direct you how to connect.

Also if you enjoy learning different art techniques I highly reccommend Lisa over at Lachri Fine Art on YouTube. She’s extremely talented and teaches her techniques through videos there. She’s been awesome for my own art skill progression. So please go check her out.

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What’s on my nightstand?

There seems to always be an interest in what authors are reading. Make no mistake, most of us are always reading something. Some of our favorite places are bookstores after all. So, I’m going to do a recurring posting series talking about books I’m reading and what I think of them. Hopefully I’ll be able to promote some of my fellow independent authors in doing this too.

phone-1052023_960_720I admit that I’m a slow reader. Between a day job that consumes many of my waking hours and trying to write my own fiction, this blog, and market the whole, I don’t get a lot of time to read for pleasure. But there is always something on my Goodreads shelf, Kindle Fire, and bedside table.  In fact, I’m one of those people who start a lot of books and take forever to finish them. If you want to follow me or connect over on Goodreads, I welcome you to check out the profile by clicking here.

So, what am I reading?

Big Magic

BigMagicPB

Big Magic cover courtesy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s website. https://www.elizabethgilbert.com/

 Creative Living Beyond Fear – by Elizabeth Gilbert

This book is a great read for anyone who is ready to make the leap into a more creative lifestyle. I found it to be both inspiring and practical really. Gilbert doesn’t mince words when it comes to the valid fears that come up when you consider embracing your creativity.

She talks about various concepts that depict creativity as a series of experiences that are almost spiritual in nature. It is not a new concept. In fact, I find that the more creative people I talk to, the more I find most of us hold that belief about our own unique experiences in living this creative life. And there is something almost transcendental about bringing something to life on the page, easel, or whatever other media you choose to work in. What it definitely takes to do that is courage.

Big Magic is a huge pep talk for creatives. Wonderfully modern and frank in tone, Elizabeth Gilbert essentially tells creators to push aside the fear more often than they give into it. Reminders that while ideas are always out there, they may not all work out or be great ideas for a particular artist. The key is to step out and make the art instead of wishing we were or pining away for a life we aren’t willing to allow ourselves to lead.

I am definitely taking a page from her book of wisdom.  Realizing that life is about discovering what we are capable of.  I’m taking steps to write more and put myself out there more. Which is why you see me more often here and hopefully on the Amazon virtual book shelves in coming months.

What is your favorite book on creativity? I can always use more on my shelves.

Stop over and check out my Amazon Author Page for my latest work in print. All available in both Print and Kindle format. And don’t forget to subscribe so you can get the latest posts from yours truly.

The Secret of the Storm: An Excerpt

I am adding a treat for you this weekend. As I’m prepping for some pretty big changes, I’m hoping that you’ll enjoy an excerpt from my debut novel The Secret of the Storm. Remember that it is available for purchase on Kindle and in print through Createspace and Amazon.com.

BookCoverPreview1Parkside Brew House, the local coffeehouse, seemed to be a vintage favorite; with its café tables, large windows, and counters full of petit-fours and pastries. It was  picturesque. Richard Wheadon was oblivious to this part of his surroundings. He saw it daily. He was lost to a momentary obsession. In the quiet corner beyond the pastry case, a table played host to a woman who was reading a brown paper-covered book. She sat alone; with curly auburn hair that was twisted over her shoulder, thick eyelashes, and a seeming perfectly shaped mouth. Her eyes rarely left the print. A silver necklace held a charm that centered on her chest and her glasses rested on her nose. A long jacket  was draped over a chair beside her. A notebook and pen accompanied her ceramic coffee cup bearing the logo of the place on the dark wood table in front of her.

Richard had been sitting at the opposite end of the lounge watching her for the past few minutes. He watched her making notes in the notebook. He drank in her careful consideration of the text she was reading. He had been intrigued at her expressions and the way her brow furled as she read from time to time. He’d spent the past ten minutes talking himself up for rejection and arguing that he quite likely, stood no chance with such a beautiful creature. After all, he wasn’t the epitome of masculinity. Being such a bookish person, he wasn’t prone to long hours at the gym. Nor was he the athletic sort to take up jogging or biking. He walked a college campus on a daily basis out of sheer necessity, not to impress women. In truth if he had been able to afford one of those Segway devices, he would have been thrilled to use it to get about the campus.

Rick, as he was known to his friends and colleagues, had always had to rely on his knowledge of poetry, literature, films, and the arts to get women. Dating was something, unlike his career as an English professor, that he had never been a success at. Granted he was not without companions, but dating was not nearly as exciting, in his opinion, as people made it out to be. He preferred to get to know someone. Not spend a thousand dollars on a meal trying to overcompensate for his lack of fashion sense and physique. He liked to think that this was a conscious choice, but the fact was, he was an English professor. Along with that lack of fashion sense and physique, came the English professor’s salary; that had little chance of impressing anyone.

He didn’t think he was bad-looking. He wasn’t lean precisely, but he wasn’t stocky or well-built. Rick was just not a typical guy. When he looked in the mirror in the mornings he saw a bumbling schmuck just trying to make it through the day. And every morning he considered what would happen if he just stopped shaving and grew a beard. He thought that it might make him seem more mature to some women. But, the reality was that he would sink into the job and forget about the idea of women until moments like this – when he saw one who simply captivated him.

Having gathered his courage, he gathered up his books and his own paper cup and started over to her table. He paused just a moment when he reached what he thought of as her personal space. Thankfully, she didn’t seem to notice his hesitation. “Hi,” he said.

“Hello,” she replied, as she looked up at him with captivating hazel eyes. She offered him a warm smile.

“Is this seat taken?” He indicated the opposite seat with a nod and smile. For a moment, it crossed his mind that she may have thought that he wanted to take the chair for another table. This had happened to him before. But then, she told him to have a seat.

He extended his hand. “Rick Wheadon, and you are?”

“Elora, Elora Castain, nice to meet you Mr. Wheadon.”

“Call me Rick,” he said, pausing again as he sat down. Rick suddenly felt at a loss for conversation. He could start rattling off poetry, but that seemed too forward. It likely didn’t matter to Ms. Castain that he could recite a number of romantic poems by Shakespeare or Mr. Poe. In fact, it crossed his mind that the exhibition of his literary knowledge would only serve to put her off. No, Rick thought it best to stick to small talk and so opted for a clichéd remark. “So, I haven’t seen you in here before.”

Her smile broadened and when she spoke, there was a chuckle beneath her words. Her amusement was something Rick found instantly soothing. That small laugh was like music to his ears and he couldn’t help but let his own match hers. At least, it seemed to help lessen his fear of being completely inadequate.

“I’m new in town. I’ve only just arrived actually.”

“Well, I’m glad you decided to stop in our little port-side town. We certainly have a lot to offer here. Museums, fishing, sailing, arts, you name it we can get it within an hour’s drive or so.” Oh my God, he thought. Why would you ask this beautiful woman to go fishing you idiot? You don’t even like to fish. Maybe dad is right. Maybe I am gay. Hoping that she didn’t notice his internal chastising, he tried to steer the conversation toward her. “So where are you from?”

“Oh here and there,” she said. “I was born here actually. However, my family moved away when I was about five.”

“What brings you back here; work, love?” He wanted to wince as that last overly inquisitive word flew from his mouth like an unexpected bat from an old attic window. Somehow, he held it back.

“Neither, my grandmother passed away actually. I am seeing to her remains and taking possession of the house she left to me.” Her smile that had previously shadowed the light on her face, now fell into a line. Only the flimsiest curves at the edges of her mouth, provided any clue that it had been there at all.

“You’re Alice Walsingham’s heir then?” Rick asked in disbelief.

“I’m afraid I am,” she smiled her half smile.

“You’ve my sincerest condolences for your loss.” Rick could feel a mask of incredulity creeping up onto his face. He did his best to shake it off. “So, you are staying at Walsingham Manor?” he asked, perhaps more quickly and sharply than he had intended to.

“Yes.”

Rick sat back in his seat and cocked his head with the best smirk he could muster. “For as long as I can remember there have been stories about that house and your family. Especially about your grandmother,” he said.

“Stories? What sort of stories?” she leaned on the table with her elbows propping her chin up. A curious grin forming on her lips.

Rick was happy to see it – proud even. However, the cost of that pride had painted him into a corner. Now, he would have to speak, which might prove difficult with both feet in his mouth. “I don’t know that I’m the one whom you should hear them from. I mean I only know the stories, I didn’t personally know your grandmother. I don’t want you to think that I’m the type of person who bases an opinion of someone on the town gossip.”

“You don’t have to give me details. Honestly, I had only met the woman twice that I can recall. My parents kept me away from her for reasons unbeknownst to me. I’m quite sure my mother will go ballistic when I tell her I’ve decided to stay at the house.”

“Why are you staying if it will cause that big of a stir?” he asked, hoping that the awkwardness of the moment had passed. He watched her expression change to puzzlement as she considered the question. After a long pause, she drew in a deep breath and answered.

“In all honesty, I don’t know, it just feels like I’ve come home. I can’t explain it any other way. It feels like I belong there; if that makes any sense at all.”

Rick watched her shoulders rise and fall as she sat back. It did make sense, and he said so. Then he took another drink of his coffee and returned the cup to the table, watching it settle back into the ring he had spilled upon sitting down. He didn’t know what to tell her and what to keep his mouth shut about. He figured that it would do no harm to tell some of the things he had heard. As long as she understood that they were gossip as far as he knew. “I will tell you that many said she was an oddball. Very rarely was she ever seen in town. She was like the town’s hermit. Then, on stormy nights, if you were driving down the road you would see her on that balcony, her arms outstretched. It was an eerie sight. I saw her like that myself once.”

“So she was a bit eccentric. My whole family is like that. I’m sure I have a few eccentricities myself. So often people judge others before they get to really know them,” Elora said. “It’s a shame really. She was quite a generous soul, as I knew her. But then I’m sure I was family as well.”

“True, and I’m sure you were the apple of her eye,” Rick said with a wink. He thought that it may have been the smoothest thing he had done all afternoon.

There was that laugh again as she looked at her watch. Then she tipped her mug up one last time and smiled. “Rick, it’s been a pleasure, and I’d love to stay and chat but I’m due at an appointment.”

Rick stood with her and smiled as she gathered her things from the table. “I hope I’ll see you around town. Maybe we could have lunch?” he asked, knowing full well that the day-date had been the touch of death to similar situations in the past. But, somehow it rolled off his tongue like an old song he had been rehearsing it in the shower.

She said nothing; snatched his smooth, brown cardboard cup from his hand and her ink pen from her purse. She scribbled something on the side and handed it back to him. She smiled and backed away.

His eyes stayed fixed on hers, only losing their grasp as she turned and walked away. He watched as her shape fell from sight. He looked down at the cup, and smiled. It was a telephone number. And below, a simple, one-word note that made his heart nearly burst. It read, “Dinner!!!”