Saturday, January 05, 2008

Let's Welcome Nina Bangs

Omigod! I prostrate myself in abject apology for not getting this in on time. My excuse? Uh, I thought I was supposed to blog on the sixth. But when I visited the blog, I checked out the schedule, and there I was, down for the fifth. And yes, Christie did remind me. My bad. I’m truly sorry, everyone.

So what to talk about. I’ve been avoiding message boards because of a deadline that doesn’t allow for things like eating, sleeping, or going online. But I happened to take a look at a discussion going on about which was more important: talent or persistence. Interesting topic.

Obviously you have to have a modicum of talent in order to write something that has a chance of being bought and published. That said, I think it comes down to persistence and more than a little luck. I wrote for over ten years before making my first sale. During that time, I saw very talented writers give up or publish one book and then disappear from the scene.

What does it take to keep going? I’d like to say that I write only for the love of writing. The purity of that motive brings tears to my eyes. Unfortunately, it would be a lie. I write out of stubbornness, desperation, a strong competitive nature, and a desire to tell stories that are different. That doesn’t make me sound like a very nice person, does it?

First, stubbornness. I invested years of hard work in the writing process. Up until 2003, I taught fulltime. I got up each morning at 3:30 AM so that I could write before getting ready for work. After I came home from school, ate, and then graded papers, I didn’t have a creative thought in my head. I was in bed by about nine every night so that I could get up the next morning. So when thoughts of quitting teased me (and they teased me a lot), I’d remember all those hours invested in my writing and decide that, hell no, I wasn’t quitting.

Desperation is a terrible thing. Other than teaching and my writing, I had no other marketable skills. I knew I wanted to retire, but I’d have a tough time living well on just my teacher’s retirement. And I did want to live well, even though I’ve heard that some of the new organic cat foods are quite tasty. If I didn’t succeed with my writing, I’d have to supplement my income by subbing. I enjoyed teaching children, but I’d had enough. That meant I had to make my writing pay.

I’m nothing if not competitive. When I was in my teens, my best friend and I would walk down the street, and I’d count how many guys looked at her first. I know, dumb. I brought some of that same attitude (only more mature, I hope) to my writing. I’ve belonged to the same critique group for over fifteen years. We’ve given each other tough love when it came to critiquing each other’s work, been there to cheer each other on, and offered shoulders to cry on when rejections rolled in. Kimberly Raye sold first. She’d written a wonderful paranormal romance which she sold to the Shadows line, and I was thrilled for her. But I wanted that same euphoric feeling that she was experiencing, so I tried a little harder. Even now, when I read an awesome book, it reinvigorates my own determination to write the best stories I can.

And of course, I love writing stories. Plain and simple. I suppose it all comes down to that truth. If I didn’t want to create stories that would resonate with readers, I could find other things to be stubborn, desperate, and competitive about.
Thanks a bunch, Christie, for inviting me to contribute to your blog, even if I showed up a little late.

8 comments:

Christie Craig said...

Nina,

I so admire your strength. I think it takes the stubbornness, the tenacity to make it. You inspire me.

Thanks for posting.

Crime Scene Christie

Wendy said...

Hi, Nina!

It's wonderful that you're stubborn and didn't quit, now look at all your great books! :)

Gemma Halliday said...

You were fashionably late! ;)
Thanks so much for coming to play with us, Nina. Great blog!

~Gemma

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Great story - and so so true...

Lucy said...

I've heard several authors say they get up hours early before work to put in some writing time. That is determination. And it's paid off.

Good post Nina. :-)

Estella said...

I am so glad you did not give up writing. I love those paranormals!

Faye Hughes said...

Nina,

what a great post! I've been around for a few years myself. (I started writing in my mother's womb. Just ask her if you don't believe me.) I've seen a lot of very talented writers give up, while I've seen other writers who, while they may have not been the best in the group, they worked hard at improving their craft and sold. And are still selling today. It's a crazy business we're in.

Faye

Kathy Bacus said...

Thanks, Nina, for stopping by--and in the middle of a tight deadline, no less! Your writing schedule while you were teaching sounds a lot like mine. Writing before work, on weekends, and during summers off has enabled me to finish 10 books so far. And it took me 8 years to get that first sale.

I agree with you. Perseverence and persistence are key to making it in this business. And staying in it.

Thanks again!

~Bullet Hole~