Sunday, November 09, 2008

Keep On Keeping On

First I’d like to thank Christie for inviting me to come in today. I’m glad to be here and happy to share my thoughts on overcoming doubt and how I keep moving forward.

The very biggest, largest, hugest, oh-my-gosh-keep-this-in-mind thing that keeps me going is…DON’T LET OTHER PEOPLE’S OPINION GET TO YOU! I can’t say that enough and can’t even possibly begin to convey how important that is and how much I live by that saying.

I never want to find out what it’s like to sit at the computer and question every sentence I put down. I figured out long ago that no matter how much I tinker, it will never, ever be perfect to everyone. What I write, I write for myself, to make myself happy. What I hope to happen is to find somebody else (mainly somebody who can send my book to the shelves) who loves my story just as much as me. I’ve never chased trends or tried to write something I don’t enjoy reading. Writing what I love keeps me happy about what I’m doing. It pushes me to reach publication to find those readers who will fall in love with my story.

It’s not easy sometimes. Especially when you get that honest to god contest feedback. I’ve been told not once, but twice by contest judges that they don’t think English is my first language. I’ve also been told I string sentences together awkwardly and I’ve got my *insert grammar word that I don’t understand* in the wrong place and mixed with *insert another grammar word that I don’t understand*. I’ve been told I should invest in a grammar book (think there might be some truth to that suggestion?). Apparently I use my words wrong and no editor or agent would read past the first couple pages until I start using words properly.

I don’t let those things—those opinions, bother me. You shouldn’t either. Look at your critiques for they are—suggestions to help your story. If the suggestion rings with me and makes me want to slap my forehead, then I make the change. Every critique you get should come with some positive feedback. If it doesn’t, ignore that critique. If they didn’t have anything nice to say, then they just didn’t like your story. And that’s okay, because that just happens sometimes. Do you like every story you’ve came up against? Heck no, so why put that demand on yourself? Want an example? I entered the same story (with no changes made to the entry) in two different contests. Contest A I completely and utterly bombed in. When I say bombed, I was in the bottom of half of 40 or so entrants. Contest B, I’m a finalist and my entry is sitting with Berkley right now.

This is why you can’t let other’s opinions get to you. Because it’s just an opinion. And that’s it. It all goes back to that one person’s trash is another’s treasure. Doubting is one slippery slope. Don’t look at that road. Don’t think about that road. I wouldn’t touch that road with a 100 foot pole. You get on that road and it’s one heck of a climb to come off. It’s full of rocks, thorns, deadly snakes, and the nastiest, creepiest bugs you could ever imagine. Like I said, I wouldn’t go near that road.

Publishing is hard enough as it is right now, don’t make it worse by becoming a Doubter. Before you even think about sending your work out, go grab you an extra suit of skin (don’t forget those big girl panties!), put it on, and then get busy with your writing career. Just sitting at the computer and typing won’t get you anywhere but a drawer full of manuscripts. Put yourself out there. Submit your work. Be prepared to learn. I write fairly fast, and I typically write two stories at once, so it seems like I’m always involved with the query process. I send out five or so queries, wait for what comes back and then send out another five or so. I have specific agents I target first and after I’ve exhausted that list, I start looking at publishers.

If you want to get somewhere in this business (and I do), you got to bust your backside. You got to want it and you got to want it bad, buddy. When one rejection rolls in, start looking at where you want the next submission to go. After that, get on that next chapter of that next story. Don’t stop. Don’t give yourself a moment to eat a gallon of ice cream and have yourself thinking, maybe this isn’t the place for me.

Publishing if full of rejection. As an unpublished writer, I face that rejection every day and I know that it will never end even after I’m published. If it’s not an agent or editor rejecting my work, then it’s going to be a reader crapping all over my book. Be prepared to take whatever might come back. If you don’t think you can handle someone calling your baby ugly just yet, then you might want to hold off on sending that work out.

Don’t let someone’s comment crush your dream. NOBODY has that the right to do that. I’ve always carried the thought that if you reach for the stars, you just might land on the moon. And getting on the moon would pretty freaking cool to me.

Keri Ford has been actively chasing her publishing dream for 3 ½ years. She maintains a website (www.keriford.com) and you can catch her at her new blog, www.EverybodyNeedsALittleRomance.com –be sure to stop by in December for prizes!! She also participates with RomanticInks (www.romanticinks.com/blog) on Sunday.

11 comments:

Christie Craig said...

Hi Keri,

Thanks so much for guest blogging. You know, one of the comments I always add to my notes when judging a contests is to remember this is just one person's opinion.

We have to remember that.

Thanks again.

CC

Keri Ford said...

Thanks for letting me be here! I know what you mean about that, it's just one person's opinion thing. That's so good of you to leave that comment!

There really are some great contest judges out there. Even when I've gotten some terrible to hear news, some seem to deliever it in the nicest way. After all, they're only trying to help. It's up to the writer to take those comments to their keyboard and keep them FAR FAR AWAY from their heart!

Arkansas Cyndi said...

Howdy Keri! I can attest to your determination to succeed in this profession...as well as your improvement in your writing! :)

As far as critiques and comments on your writing, I KNOW you take all my comments as gospel, right? LOL

Keri Ford said...

Hey, Cyndi. Think I could win an Best Imporver of the year award? THAT should be added to the RITA list.

And yeah, of course I take all your suggestions. Then I have someone to blame when I get those rejections. :O)

Thanks for coming by.

jj Keller said...

Keri,
Your comments about perserverance are so true. Even published authors get rejections. Continue to send out queries and keep on...keeping on... I'm one of your fans!

jj

Keri Ford said...

Hey, jj. Don't worry about me! They'll have to pull my submission letters out of my cold dead hands before I give up!

Thanks for stopping!

Faye Hughes said...

Hi, Keri,

Great post, and it's so true. Perservance is key when it comes to the publishing business. Best of luck to you. I'm sure we'll be seeing your name on the bookshelves soon!

Faye

Keri Ford said...

Hi, Faye, I hope you're right! thanks for stopping in.

Gemma Halliday said...

Great post, Keri!! I totally agree - perseverances is so important. Just like the best way to get over a guy is to go out on a date with someone new, the best way to get over a rejection is to send out a submission. :)

~Gemma

Keri Ford said...

And Gemma, if you've been a very good girl, while you're out with a very new hot guy with you looking totaly Fab, just maybe you'll see that ex with a drunk on his arm!

:O)keri

Donnell said...

Keri, you're my hero. What awesome advice. You know why you'll make it because you're fearless. I'm forwarding this link. Talk about inspirational. Good luck with Berkley!