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Jul
5
2013

Publishing terrifies me! -- by Donna B. Comeaux

I posed this question the other day to my critique group at Critique Circle.com: “As incentive to complete a novel or put yourself on a tighter schedule, have you ever heard of someone posting a partial novel on their blog or webpage? I can see someone doing that on a webpage, but a blog? Your thoughts, please.”

After receiving several responses, one struck a chord. One reply was: “Are you me? The idea of publication terrifies me. But Oh God do I want it. For the moment I feel secure in the knowledge the chances are slim. But I so want the chance to turn it down. No pleasing me.”

It didn’t take me long to react to the response.  Matter of fact something in me went completely nuts.  Here is what I wrote:

Okay, I have to throw something out here.  I don’t know why I ever thought I was the only one both fearful and thirsting to publish. Wow! How naïve. Here’s the thing: How in the world do we free ourselves from this monstrous fear of doing anything, especially writing? At times, I am angry at all those critiques and side comments about my writing, your writing, anyone’s writing. We need those critiques. I need them! Boy, do I ever. But somewhere in our pea-brains we think the critiques are gods. I keep sitting down day after day trying to get it right. Is there ever a time to get it “right?” Is this all a setup? You go to writers’ conventions and you hear day after day about how to improve your writing. You take writing courses online, spending hundreds of dollars at a time to improve. You do all you can you to hear and understand the criticism. You’re given a hundred reasons why you can’t publish. You must have credentials to even freelance (at least for some sites). Again, I ask, is it all a setup? Seems the only people getting anything out of all this are the ones asking for the money to improve your writing which won’t get published because you have no credentials (for freelancing, that is, for some sites) and as a last resort you end up at a convention and leave with another to-do list of improvements.

Here’s my main point. Ah-Ha! When do we as writers begin to believe in ourselves and finish our projects? Have you ever really picked up a book that was flawless? There’s no such thing. Can we at least agree on that? And if we do, what makes us inferior? Well, we shouldn’t feel inferior. We should write. And when one editor, agent or publisher won’t publish our work, publish it your darn self. Now there! I want to sit down with confidence and finish my work. I don’t mind publishing it myself, but at this point, I want to just finish one piece of work. Don’t get me wrong…I’ve finished my first novel through and through and I’m working on rewrites. But the rewrites are massive and believe me the editor was not shy in giving me yet another list of to-dos to improve upon. (Her point was well taken and I’m rewriting.)

I’m not angry with critiquers. I’m angry, if you can call it anger, disgust might be more appropriate, at how writers allow their vulnerability to take them down a road of “no recovery.” (I’m sure an editor would hammer me for that sentence.) Sometimes I simply think we forget to take the good from critiques and shuck the rest.

[person’s name deleted], my comments are your fault. When I read your comments, it exposed how we all battle feelings of not accomplishing our goal. I don’t want publishing to terrify me, but I’ll be the first to admit, [name deleted], that it does indeed. Maybe that’s why I responded to your comment. Maybe I just needed to write this so I could kick myself in the pants. Maybe someone else out there needs this kick, too. For whatever reason I wrote this, I pray I will get back to the drawing board and write like I’m on fire. I hope all of you do the same. Can somebody out there please tell me they got over the blues of writing and have published something?

WHEW! After all that, I’m not sure I have any energy left. Oh, heck! Sure I do. I’m off to finish that masterpiece.

END OF RANT!

Since my rant a week ago, I went on a writing frenzy and have completed some heavy revisions to my family saga, revised the prologue of my crime novel and I’m in the middle of a magazine article I hope to have done by the end of the year. (I know, that’s a long time, but I’ve research to do, pictures to gather, interviews to conduct.) I hope Sports Illustrated comes calling, but I hear it’s hard to break through their barriers. But isn’t everything about breaking into the writing world hard?

Since life is a pavement of molasses, why don’t we all fall in line and help one another up this treacherous writing hill? Send me a word of encouragement and I’ll send you another rant.

Remember: FEAR is a choice.

HAPPY WRITING EVERYBODY!!!

Posted by Donna B. Comeaux 5 Jul 2013 at 00:19
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Responses to this blog

Lindymoon 5 Jul 2013 at 05:38  
Good 'un, Donna. Thanks for sharing. Miss Prissy (what I call myself when I'm being particularly judgy/mental) loves a good rant!

You deserve a brownie. Or even some cookie dough (made without eggs), frozen into balls, wrapped with cooked brownie and coated with chocolate. Nuts optional. Sugar shock guaranteed.

Have you seen this rant by Libba Bray? I loved it so much that I reblogged it.
Sheridan 5 Jul 2013 at 06:15  
Hi Donna, thanks for taking the time to write this post, it's good for writers to share their angst. Sadly, it seems a writer's angst never completely goes away. I sure wish I could say otherwise! I read an interview the other day of a famous author (100mil + sales) and he basically said this, "No matter how many hits you've written and pubbed, or the number of sales made, there is always anxiety about the latest WIP not being good enough."

With that said, I totally get where you are coming from on the angst of 'not being good enough' holding you back from completing your WIPs. Strangely enough, my own experience has been sort of an inverted version of yours, so believe me, I truly understand.

I knocked out three full-length novels in one year, during the first year of my journey. I will say that the feeling of completing your first novel is a lot like getting your first real kiss (from a boy you like, hopefully) — it's exhilarating, empowering and a little scary, it can also be a little sad, surprisingly, because now you've got to 'say goodbye' to these characters you've been living with for months. But trust me, even if you never get pubbed, the pleasure and pride you will get from being able to say "I wrote a novel" is worth it.

But, call me a babe-in-woods lacking rejection-experience—a woody babe wearing rose colored glasses. But as the rejections came in, my vim and vigor slowly waned. I started saying to myself, "As much as I love writing, and as much as I know I've improved, this stuff takes a lot of time out of my life...for nothing. Why keep doing it?" (even if I love it) You know...the same thoughts your family and friends are probably secretly having about your time spent writing.

Now I'm on WIP-4, and stuck around page 60. It's not so much a loss of energy and enthusiasm (although there is that), but more a fear-factor. Fear of not even getting an agent with this one (the fourth!). I've been editing the first fifty pages for the past three months, wanting to get them polished to the highest glossy shine the world has ever seen, because deep down, there's this voice saying, "If you can't get this one pubbed, it's time to take up kite boarding or something." At least it would be good exercise.

If it weren't for CC, I probably would throw in the towel. But instead, I'll be posting my highly-polished 'first 50 pages' in the coming weeks in the CC queue, and can at least count on this community's feedback (unlike all those useless *&#@!* generic rejection letters). Meanwhile, as I patiently wait for the Critters responses, I am going to get to work on the next chapter, with a goal to self-pub if an agent isn't savvy enough to snap me up so they can sell Freedom Jungle and its brothers I have planned.
Rhodes 5 Jul 2013 at 07:23  
Thanks for this post! The idea of having my work reviewed for publication scares me too, even though I know I'm far from that point. But we're putting all of this effort into our manuscripts for a reason, and that is on some level, we believe that it's a story worth telling.
Breeze 7 Jul 2013 at 05:44  
Hopefully you are all young and at the start of your writing careers. Some of us (ahem) who started late don't have time to learn how to get through the narrow agent gate, and may not have the steam to knock out three novels a year. But we can still have readers. Yay.

Thanks for your post!
Comeaux 8 Jul 2013 at 14:27  
Wow! I must say that I never expected such a response. You guys are great for taking the time to read my blog. I appreciate it. You know I feel your anxieties. Like me, I'm sure all of you just want to accomplish something in the field of writing. To feel some sense of accomplishment, I have decided to post one of my novels on my blog. I have decided to set deadlines every month to publish a chapter (or partial chapter). At the bottom of my blog is a calendar countdown with the date and name of the novel to be posted next. This will give my readers something to look forward to. When I can afford it, I want to look into the web service that's responsible for sending out notices about a writer's book. (I have forgotten the name of this service, but it comes to $80/month or per year. It's worth it on a one-time basis.)

Breeze, I'm not one of the young ones so I don't have a lot of time to wait for some 35 year-old editors/agents to come calling. Neither do I have the time or patience for them to increase my to-do list of things to correct. That doesn't mean I'll sit back and write with disregard to the rules or write without proofreading. I want to make every effort that whatever I write it is polished. You ought to see my office. I have reference books everywhere. I'm teaching myself all the time, along with learning from others about the art of writing. I have learned so much in the last two months.

Writers, keep your heads up. Don't stop the obsession you have for your craft. It's only worth it to us. Some of us have raised our kids, waited on our husbands, and now we are in a position to finally do whatever we want, when we want. So go for it! It's our time!

Thanks again for reading my blog.

HAPPY WRITING EVERYONE!

donna
Creative20 14 Jul 2013 at 14:32  
it's true but we all get over it trust me

Rwemad 31 Jul 2013 at 23:06  
Tee Hee. This was great. Inspiring no less.

It's a bumpy emotional ocean we sail on that's for sure. But that too is some of the appeal, I think. Feeling excited about what I'm doing one day, an idiot for having a go the next. The hope and the fear. All these things make me more alive than Joe Blogs next door who goes to work, has his tea, watches a bit of telly before going to bed only to do it all again tomorrow. I have been so disheartened I have 'given up' but wandered around getting under everybody's feet whining like a child, 'I'm bored.' If I don't write, even if it's just for me, then what will I do? Hang out on street corners and wotnot being a nuisance. Never too old for that. And we're never too old to get published. I hope.

Oh, and don't let all those reference books kill the character from your writing. Each of our efforts are unique and should be edited as such.

Happy writing.
Cheeno 12 Aug 2013 at 12:33  
An enjoyable read, and something we've all experienced at one stage or another. I've posted it to our page at: www.facebook.com/Splinter4all

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