Thank goodness most people I've met in publishing, whether they're writers, agents, editors or anyone else, tend to be good people who love books and who are willing to forgive new writers for making rookie mistakes. I've had generous, experienced writers answer my questions, give me good advice - and, better yet, forgive me when, early on, I did things that were just downright awkward or unprofessional.
(I still cringe when I remember asking one wonderful, experienced writer, at a particularly low point many years ago, if she could please refer me to a publisher who was a personal friend of hers. For those of you who haven't come across this issue yet - seriously, just DON'T do it! If a writer wants to refer you to an agent or a publisher they know, then they'll offer to do that without any prompting. You won't have to ask! If they don't want to, though...well, then you've just put both of you into an intensely awkward situation by asking them that favor. They'll feel rotten, embarrassed and uncomfortable at having to say no to you; you'll feel, if you're anything like me, about as tall as a slug no matter how kindly and gently they turn you down. Don't make that mistake! Learn from my moment of Cringe!)
I've tried to learn from all of my mistakes, but of course I'll just keep making more (and learning from them, I hope) as I go along. Most of all, though, when I look back at the last several years, I wish I could do-over the months I spent flailing between writing projects, stuck not because I didn't secretly know which one I wanted to write...but because I felt so wracked by insecurity, panicked by sales numbers that were out of my control, and my own fear of how badly I could fail if I trusted my own instincts.
If I could take all the hours, weeks, and months I'd spent angsting over whether I was good enough/ whether I was doing the right, the smartest thing, and re-do that time to spend it writing instead...
Well, honestly, I'd be a lot happier and I wouldn't have missed out at all. (Especially because the inevitable answer to all of my angst has always, always been: Just write what feels right and ignore the rest. Because really, what else can any of us do?)
Maybe the extra books or stories I might have written in that time would have sold; maybe they wouldn't. But it's always better to spend time writing than spend the same time worrying about writing.
And now I'm going to try to remember my own good advice...but if I fall down on it, I won't waste time yelling at myself for it.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
A SWEETHEART OF A CONTEST!
Are you a writer? Librarian? Avid reader? Then be sure to get in on the Share the Love giveaway from Online Author Visits. You could win a trio of books for yourself and a collection of six books for your favorite library! Some of our own past and present Smack Dab authors are members of O.A.V. and have books featured in the contest, including Dia Calhoun, Joan Holub, Suzanne Williams, and Trudi Trueit. Dia is generously giving away an ARC of her upcoming novel, After the River the Sun!
The contest runs through February 24, 2013, so click on over to Online Author Visits to enter. While you're there you can learn more about hosting a virtual visit in your school or library with one of these talented writers!