A long time ago I wrote a funny little piece about an insecure writer who had been writing in secret because she was afraid to let anyone know what she was doing. If her husband asked why she was spending hours in the closet, her response was, “Oh, just sorting clothes. Sorting takes a long time, you know.”
Then she finally had to come clean, so to speak – I could go off on a whole riff about doing the laundry, but perhaps that is better saved for another time.
The woman in my original essay – I called her Glenda Gibberish – was telling her best friend about her writing.
“I’ve been writing all my life, but I never told anyone.”
“I didn’t want anyone to laugh at me.”
“How have you kept it a secret from your husband?”
“I wrote a whole book on squares of toilet tissue and stuck them inside the empty roll.”
“Really? And how has that worked out?”
“Fine, until my husband decided the hamster needed a new chew toy. I lost a whole chapter.”
“Yeah, ouch. He choked on a particularly graphic sex scene.”
“No. The hamster.”
“Well, don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me.”
“Actually. I wish you would tell a few people. My book comes out next month.”
I wrote that piece so long ago there was no Internet and no online groups and blogs and social sites for writers to gather and support each other. If one did not belong to a writer’s group, the writing was a solitary and lonely business. Most writers did not have to hide their writing the way Glenda did, but they did share in her insecurity, and the opportunity to get validation did not come along very often.
Rejection slips are hardly validating.
For a long time my own insecurity was like some huge monster I battled constantly. I was doing freelance journalism, so the rejection slips were frequent and it took me a while to stop wailing at the mailbox every time an article was returned. Along the way I learned some things.
- Tenacity counts as much as talent
- Writers with thick skins succeed
- Look at the positives, not the negatives
- Be professional – always
- Failure can be a good thing
- Validate yourself, don’t wait for it to come from outside
- Quitting is not an option
I remind myself of that last one a lot. Not that I am ready to quit that often, but there are times. If you are an author reading this, I’m sure you understand. This is a wacky, wacky, unpredictable business, and not for those who cannot look at a rejection slip and say, “I don’t care.”
Maryann’s essay about Glenda appeared in her weekly humor column that ran in a Dallas suburban newspaper for many years. She wrote it when her first non-fiction book was published and thought that would be a fun way to announce it. Since then she has written several more nonfiction books for teens focusing on life issues they face. She has also written a number of novels, the most recent a stand-alone mystery, Boxes For Beds, that is her first indie release. Her Seasons Mystery Series debuted with Open Season in 2010, followed by Stalking Season late in 2012. Open Season is now an e-book, and Stalking Season is available in hardcover.
Boxes for Beds will be free for Kindle starting this coming Saturday, October 12 through October 16, so that is a good opportunity to sample Maryann’s work. Remember, you don’t have to have a Kindle reader. There are Apps for other electronic devices for reading Kindle titles.