Jenna Black's Blog Experiment

Wherein romance author Jenna Black plunges into the terrifying new territory of blogging . . .


 

Monday, February 20, 2006

Down with Self Doubt!

I am so not a blogger. I couldn't even keep a diary as a kid, no matter how many times I tried. There's something intimidating about it. I guess I'm just not big on talking about myself. However, I'm not a kid anymore, and blogging is incredibly popular. So I'm going to give it a try, despite my natural resistance.

This is truly an experiment. Can I come up with interesting things to say on a regular basis? Or ever? *Gulp* One thing many writers have in common is a deep well of insecurity and self-doubt. I've got a well and a reservoir that likes to overflow. Another thing we have in common, though, is that we're willing to attack that self-doubt. Otherwise, we'd never send our precious manuscripts out into the cold, cruel world. So, my battle-cry is: Down with Self Doubt!

In many ways, conquering my self-doubt was the key to my selling my first commercial novel, Watchers in the Night (coming from Tor Romance in October, '06). All you struggling writers out there, listen to this story and take heart!

I've been writing seriously for publication for 16 years. Damn, that's a lot of years! I started out writing science fiction and fantasy, and with my very first novel I got a serious nibble from a publisher who said he'd love to make an offer on the book, but he was being forced to cut down on first novels. (Thank God! I shudder to think what it would have been like if someone had actually published that book, which will remain hidden from human eyes for all eternity.)

You'd think from a response like that that I was well on my way to publication success, but such was not the case. I wrote book after book, sending each one out with high hopes that this would be the one that would get my foot in the door. And again and again, it didn't happen. I got other nibbles. I had an editor go to bat for me and pitch my book to the other editors in her company. But I never seemed able to take that final step, never seemed able to make that sale. Words can't describe how discouraging this all was, this constant cycle of hope and disappointment.

One thing, though. I never considered quitting. Quitting was always something that I'd think about "eventually," when all hope was dead. But hope was on its deathbed on life support, and the more years (and books) went by, the harder it was to keep it alive.

Then, I had an amazing, life-altering experience. I went to a writer's workshop where the teachers, both very successful commercial authors, truly believe that if you were a good enough writer and you didn't quit, you'd eventually get published. They told me that luck wasn't needed, that my hard work was the key. And that completely changed the way I looked at my writing career.

I decided that if hard work was the key, I was damn well going to work harder than I ever had before. So I changed from writing whenever I was "in the mood," to writing every single day. Seven days a week. And instead of telling myself that I was waiting for a lucky break--something I had absolutely no control over--I told myself that if I wrote well enough, I would eventually break in. And I had a leg up--enough publishers had nibbled at my earlier works to convince me that I was good enough.

At this point, I also shifted to writing romance, which I think turned out to be a more natural genre for me. (I'll have to talk about that in another post some day.) One year after I changed my entire writing regimen and attitude, I snagged a top-flight agent. And one year after that, I sold my first novel to a commercial, New York press. Watchers in the Night was my 18th completed novel.

So, I've overcome self-doubt before, with a herculean effort. I can do it again. It doesn't mean my blog experiment is guaranteed to work. I may find that it's too difficult to promote my book, my blog, and my website all at the same time. I may find that it's too much of a time-sink. I may find I don't have enough to say. But I'm going to give it a try, because otherwise I'll never know.

2 Comments:

At 12:01 AM, Blogger Amy said...

Thanks for the story. It does give hope to those of us who are trying to break into the published world. I think I'm going to try publishing through lulu.com. It's not the same as a regular publisher, but worth a try while I try to get someone to look at my work.

Thanks again, and I look forward to reading more of your blog.

Amy
http://midnight-hotel.blogspot.com

 
At 10:22 PM, Blogger Grumpy Old Woman said...

Here's another Amy... :-)
Just wanted to say: Thanks!
It's so important to believe that it is not LUCK but hard work and perserverance that will lead to success. I've got no luck, never did, and it was-a gettin' me down. There's nothing like the thought that something completely out of your control is controlling your destiny, i.e. luck, to depress you. But hard work? Yes, you can control that. You can control the amount of effort you put into your writing, and it's incredibly freeing and energizing to believe that THAT, and not illusive luck, is what will make or break you.
Thanks for your blog, and keep it up! We're all rooting for you!
(Your CP...Amy... *grin*)

 

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