Friday, November 11, 2011

Remember Where You Came From

The other day I had a new writer remind me of what it was like to be brand new and a little lost. She transported me back to all my insecurities and also the joy of just having a dream. I think it is good for all writers to remember where they came from. Have you forgotten what its like? The nerves? The excitement? The feeling of not being as good as writers that have been writing longer? Being overwhelmed with all the rules? The crits? The feeling of wanting to quit?

It can be so overwhelming that a fragile newbie can be shattered. I have been writing for about four years now and have a pretty tough skin but new writers don’t. We have to remember that. Of course be honest in crits and lead them in the right direction but don’t ruin them as writers. We have to be so careful and remember how we felt in the beginning. They need encouragement as well as direction. I think we forget to because we crit with a lot of seasoned writers and we don’t need to hear it as much. And I don’t mean false praise. I mean praise for the things they are doing right. Every part of their work can’t be bad.

When I first started out I was so excited that I couldn’t write fast enough. My fingers flew over the keyboard and my mind spun what I thought was a beautiful story. Halfway through the book I couldn’t wait any longer. Someone other than family had to read my work. It was just killing me not to share it. The need to hear someone else tell me how great it was was just eating me alive. So I posted it for crits and my naive heart was broken. My ms came back to me bleeding.

Nothing about it was right. I was head hopping so much it made your head spin. Everyone hated my heroine. I wanted her to be tough and in the process I made her unlikeable. And the list went on and on. Devastated and on the verge of throwing in the towel I was sent an angel in the form of a fellow writer. She made me realize I wasn’t a terrible writer but very new. She convinced me if this was what I really wanted I had to learn the craft and push myself to become a better writer.

So that’s what I did. I took an accredited writing course and learned so much. It was the best thing I ever did! There is so much information out there and not all of it is good and can be very confusing to newbies. It can spin you around and turn you inside out with frustration. Not knowing what is the right way and what is the wrong way to do things. Be very careful whom you get your advice from because not all of it is good advice. Anyone can blog and that doesn’t mean they know what they are talking about. That was one of the first lessons I learned.

Then there is critting. This can be a total disaster as well. I fell head first into this hole thinking it was going to make my story better. Nope! I went about it all wrong. You can’t take the advice of every critter to heart. If you do then you end up with a mess and that’s what I ended up with. If a critter told me to do something then I did it. I think this is very common for a new writer. We read other’s writing and think their writing is amazing and want to follow in their footsteps. The problem lies in having too many different writers manipulating the story.

My ms had a million different voices and ideas, which just made it worse. This is a tough lesson to learn and I learned it the hard way. One of the worst mistakes I made was taking another writer’s thoughts and putting them in the ms word for word. Please don’t do this. If they give you an idea then put it in your own words.

Gee’s this makes me flash back to the frustration of realizing what I did to that poor ms. Needless to say I just put it to the side and started another one. I couldn’t even look at it anymore. Sad but true. I plan to rewrite it but refused to even look at it until recently. It was that upsetting. I don’t blame my crit partners. It was just being new and not knowing.

So to the newbies, all I can say is if this is your dream don’t quit. Learn the craft and follow your dream. Remember we all started somewhere. I know reading more advanced writer’s work can be crushing and you may think you will never get there but you will. They started right where you are now. If you push yourself in the right direction and find the right mentors then you will get there. Never give up. When you want to quit find another writer that will pull you from the trenches. I have been pulled out of that rut many times by my fellow crit partners. Other writers aren’t better than you they are just further along and more seasoned. Its kind of like an iron skillet the more you use it the better it gets.

Now to the more seasoned writers, don’t forget where you came from. Make time to help a new writer. I know a lot of us stay really busy but what if someone had said they didn’t have time to help you? Where would you be now? Remember that one person that took the time to help and teach you the ins and outs of writing? Pull out some of your earlier work and reminisce where you came from. It may shock you.

Happy Reading and Writing,
Tabitha Blake


Ella Quinn said...

Very nice and timely post.

Melodie Campbell said...

So true, Tabitha. And a good reminder for us who have been writing 20 years.
To be honest, I'm not sure I have developed a thick enough skin even yet!

Brenda said...

Holy...Carey, this is an excellent blog post and a much needed one too.

I will never forget from where it was I came from--never! And if I do, I would love for someone to remind me.

Carey, you and I have gone through a lot together and we learned from our mistakes. I for one want to pay it forward. I received so much help from others. I can't possibly thank them enough. And I hope I can offer the same help to new writers.

Tabitha Blake said...

Thanks Ella!

Tabitha Blake said...

So true Melodie Sometimes we just forget. But I really try to stay conscious of it. We all needed help at one time and someone was willing to give it. I want to try to be that person. As far as a thick skin goes it still stings when you get your ms back bleeding. LOL!

Tabitha Blake said...

Oh man Brenda have we ever? Wow! We have been to hell and back but never gave up. That is the key! Never give up! You were my angel I talked about. Without you I would have quit long ago. Thanks for everything you did and still do for me. You are the best.

Brenda said...

Right back attcha, Babe!

Liz said...

well said.
here is the thing, I have a grand total of 7 books out with 4 on the way this year alone. by a few measures that makes me NOT a newbie. But I feel it every day still!

Allison Merritt said...

Hey Tabby, great post! It is tough being a newbie. We have a couple in our local writing group and they're so enthusiastic. I remember being like that and then getting shot down. But when I got involved in an online critting group, everyone was so nice about how to help me. That really kept me going. Having friends who are where you are or have been where you are really makes the difference.

I've only been back in the writing game for about two years, so my head is swirling knowing that The Treasure Hunter's Lady is coming out in February. Some days I still feel like that poor young writer who doesn't have a clue.

Sara said...

Hey Tabitha, this was a great post and I'm glad you sent it to me, via enchantedmuse. I guess I would still be considered a new writer. I've only published one book, that was self-pubbed and it isn't selling as I'd hoped it would. In fact, it hasn't sold at all. I know it's a good book because of the reviews I've received, from people who don't know me and wouldn't kiss up, yet I can't seem to get traffic to it to make it sale.

It really makes me nervous when I think of the other two completed manuscripts I have that I'd like to publish. Then there's the one I'm doing for NaNo. Some days, I wonder if I should just give up but I love writing too much to throw in my towel. I don't care as much about making money as to have readers be entertained by my stories, as I have from so many other authors.

I appreciate you taking the time to write this post. It helped give me a bit of inspiration to keep trying for a bit longer before deciding I can't make this dream come true.

Sheri Fredricks said...

"What? There's rules to writing romance?" That was the first shock to hit me. The second came from a harsh crit. Implement the Golden Rule and you can never go wrong. Thank you for sending a reminder message to all writers, new and seasoned, Tabby.

christine warner said...

Very nice post Tabitha! Everything you said is so exact to what it is like to be a newbie...and even though I have a book coming out, I still experience a lot of the things you talked about. Writing and putting your work out there is scary. We all have insecurities and doubts and there are some days my skin is tougher than others.

Other writers aren’t better than you they are just further along and more seasoned. ...this line you said in your blog says it all!

Nicely done you!

Tabitha Blake said...

Liz first off congrats. Yeah writing can be tough but when I read a story by a writer and feel their passion for the written word its amazing. But we all have our ups and down whether we are seasoned writers or newbies. I hate those days that you think you are the worst writer out there. Doubts just suck and we all have them.

Tabitha Blake said...

Congrats Allison on your new book! That's awesome! It can be tough but it does get easier and sometime newbies need to hear that from us. My crit partners have been amazing including you. Sometimes newbies just need a little bit of nurturing. It's like being the new kid in school. It sucks but that one person reaches out and tries to make you feel welcome and that can make a world of difference when you feel out of your element.

Tabitha Blake said...

Well Sara congrats on your book! My best advice for you is to find ways to get the word out. Do a blog tour etc. If you would like to do an interview or guest blog and talk about your book here that would be great. Just let me know and keep your head up. Most blogs will do interviews and guest blogs. Try not to be nervous and put your self out there. What's the worst that could happen? But I understand how tough it is. Hugs!

Tabitha Blake said...

Sheri LOL! You took the words right out of my mouth. My first thought was rules? What rules? Huh? LOL! Now they just come to me. Glad you enjoyed it!

Tabitha Blake said...

Thanks Christine! It's so true! That line really says a lot. And I'm with you some days I'm tougher than other days. Sometimes I feel as fragile as a newbie. I think new writers need to know we have as many doubts as they do we just seem to hide them better. I hate that nasty little voice in my head that says I suck and can't write worth crap. Wish he would just go away but it is all part of writing.

Anonymous said...

I remember all too vividly when I started out. This post brought back some disheartening and also some great memories. Like many others, I am still learning, but I am enjoying the journey along the way. Great post Tabby.
Yvonne Nicolas

Tabitha Blake said...

Thanks Yvonne. This was a bitter sweet blog for me too. It brought back some really tough memories but also some really good ones. I think after while we get bogged down with writing and we need to remember why we started writing in the first place. Sometimes we have to lasso the passion we had in the beginning.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for helping us not so seasoned writers. Your help and support has been instrumental in my journey.

Your friendship is forever treasured.


Joanna Aislinn said...

Such important reminders, Tabitha; thank you. Seasoned or not, every time someone gives me feedback on my work I feel vulnerable--even if it's positive, lol. Not sure skin ever gets that thick.

Paul McDermott said...

When I read the 'tagline' I thought it was a goegraphical reference to "remember where you came from" - home town, for example!
I guess I'm a 'newbie' in the sense that I've just had my first (adult) novel accepted for publication. That said, I can't remember a time when I DIDN'T write, all the way back to childhood days 50 years ago.
My home town [Liverpool, England] figures strongly in the plotline of quite a lot of my work: sometimes I think of the city as a 'persona' in the plot development.
Sorry if this seems a bit "off topic" seen in relation to the other comments on the blog thread, but maybe it wil spark some discussion. Am I wrong to think of a Place as being so vibrant and "alive" that it can develop a personalitty, affect the plotline of your storytelling?

Tabitha Blake said...

Thanks for stopping by Joanna. It does sting every time but with the right crit partners you know it is done with love.

Tabitha Blake said...

First off congrats Paul on your new book! Thats great! Not off the wall at all. I do think where a story takes place is important. If written right it can be magical. I love England! My great Grandmother was from Nottingham. I would love to go there sometime. Glad you stopped by. Sorry it was a little misleading but it got you to stop by so guess the tag did its job. LOL!