Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Insecure Writers Club

Today is Wednesday, the FIRST Wednesday of October [hooray for fall!] and I have--dear readers--decided to join the Insecure Writers Support Group.

Hi. My name is Julie. And I'm an insecure writer.

Haha! I crack myself up.

ANY-whooo... this fabulous group, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, is designed to share and encourage the fears we've had (and overcome!) as writers, as well as offer assistance and guidance to others who may be struggling. And... lets face it. We're ALL struggling, insecure writers!

Which is why I think this group is SO FREAKIN' COOL!!

Not that we're all struggling. I wish we weren't. I wish we were all best sellers. But what IS so freakin' cool that there are SO many of us out there, and therefore SO many peeps with good advice to share! Rock on. Without a doubt, the best thing about being a writer is having writer friends. Hence, I'm super duper excited about this group and hope to meet lots of awesome writers with lots of AWESOME advice! Hopefully I'll be able to share a little brilliance of my own too [fingers crossed].

So without further ado... my insecurity, which was fought. And overcome.

The Audience Scare. [cue scary music].

Just a week or so ago, I ran across a writing contest called Can You Hook a Teen? If this sounds familiar to you, its probably because you entered the contest. Or read about it. Or thought about entering. Or considered how scary it would be to have your work read by ACTUAL teens [gasp], and ran for your freakin' lives!! This last group of people were the smart ones. Haha.

I, however, was NOT in the smartie pants group. I entered.

Now, to be honest, I did not expect to win. It never even crossed my mind. I submitted the 250 words of my ms [which is still posted below, for your viewing pleasure, if you're interested], JUST because it seemed like a fun thing to do! [Hardy, har. Fun. Riiiiiight] I was clearly delusional. A few days went by. I didn't really think about it. Then the winners were announced, and ...[surprise, surprise]... Keepers was not listed as one of the "hooker" manuscripts of the day.

And I felt... disappointment. What?!

"Self," I thought, "how can you possibly be disappointed when you NEVER expected to win in the first place?"

Self, unfortunately, did not have an answer for this odd turn of emotions. But Self DID, however, expound on my random feelings of disappointment. My next thought (after being pummeled by a round of water balloons from the pity band wagon) was:

"Holy crap!! I can't hook a teen! They hated it! I'm DOOOOOOOOOOOOOMED!"

In the next few hours of pure panic, I went through every element of my book. Every chapter, every character, every plot twist, and every cliff hanger, trying to figure out WHAT DID I DO WRONG?! 

See, in my delirium, I thought that because these two random teen judges (TWO, mind you, just two) did not find my first 250 words particularly catching, that clearly... CLEARLY... my book was actually NOT a YA novel. Or worse, that my book was a load of horse poo and wouldn't catch an agent OR make it to the publishers whether it was YA, Adult, Mid Grade or anything in between.  

This, was crazy talk.

Now I'm not saying that my book doesn't need improvements (cause it does). Or that I deserve an agent RIGHT NOW (though I want one). Or even that my first 250 words really are totally rock star awesome (even though, I think they're pretty good).

What I'm saying--and what I had to remind myself of, after I had calmed somewhat--is that not EVERYONE is going to like my book. So two teenie bopers didn't like my first 250? Big deal! [Lets be honest, it's probably because I didn't have a sparkly vampire or a freakin' hot underage werewolf ripping off his shirt.]

I had to remind myself that it is humanly impossible to please every single audience member. Even Stephenie Meyer and J-freain'-K Rowling have hater clubs. Bad reviews will come. We will, at times, wish to drown ourselves in Ben and Jerry's or host the world's biggest pity party, just cause we can.


Just so long as we remember to take the GOOD reviews with the bad. We can't just focus on the bad, peeps. The bad comes with the good... but the GOOD comes with the bad too! Separate the good critique from the nasty comments or pointless self pity, and move forward with confidence!

Anyway. That's my pick-me up advice for the day. After re-evaluation and panic mode have subsided, I've realized, that yes, my book is still YA. And no, it does not completely suck. And yes, I will try not to focus on the review that two random teenage girls gave me (or rather, DIDN'T give me).

What are YOUR thoughts on this? Anyone have similar experience to share?


Barbara Kloss said...

JULIE! So I saw that picture of Edward and I laughed so hard I almost fell off the couch! He looks like he's about to eat me. *nomnomnomnom*

Okay, seriously, I know EXACTLY how you feel (I've entered my first 250 words in to things, too.) It's so difficult remembering how subjective it all is. There are books people love that I wanna flush down my toilet (after shredding it, of course), and there are books I'd frame and hang in my living room that make others want to vomit...

I read those 250 words and they were AWESOME! You had me hooked, and there's a heck of a lot more in the world than just those two readers :D

Heather said...

I'm so sorry your story wasn't a finalist. :( For what it's worth, I loved it. And you're right, not everyone will and that's okay! This new support group is an awesome idea!

S. L. Hennessy said...

Wow Jules, you too? Today was my first Insecure Writer's post as well. Guess great minds (and writing besties) really do think alike!!

M.S Tucker said...

I thought the same thing after they released the winners! I also felt slightly insulted that they picked authors they've worked with in the past and gave them notoriety. I thought that was slightly unbiased of them. But as Barbara said, it's very subjective. A lot of people I know, LOVE the Gossip Girl books, whereas I despise them. But they're popular and have their own CW show!! Go figure!

But you're right. They were TWO girls out of how many in the world? When you think of it that way, two teenies really get lost in the sea of possibilities! Besides, I loved your chapters! I guess this is where the "Different Strokes For Different Folks" comes to play.

I noticed that Brenda is doing a similar Hook A Teen Contest again with 300 words this time. I think I'm going to pass on this round because I'm working hard on something that has my full attention. But perhaps if you wanted to, you could re-enter since it's early? Maybe give a different excerpt or change things up? Up to you. It's kind of like sticking your neck out to see if it's going to get lopped off again. :/ It's one of the reasons I don't feel like sticking my neck out there again. At least not yet.

I've entered in a couple of contests now, and the only way I can think to describe them is this:
I need to realized that there is going to be ONE person that will love my book--I just have to find him/her in a large pool of "agent fish". That one person will be like finding the one we'd like to marry and be our "literary spouses" (i.e Agents). After I happen to catch one of them, they will then take me to a "book baby doctor" (i.e an Editor/Publishing house) and we will make beautiful miracles called "books" and 9 months later (give or take), the people who hold them in their hands and there will be great rejoicing throughout the land!

It's very much like dating. And it's just as emotionally draining as when a guy leans over, plucks a single strand (or ten) of your hair and begins to floss with it at the table. Agent hunting can be just as bombastic!**

Oh! FYI...I feel as though writers have been holding out on me!! I've been super busy trying to get the hand of Scrivener before NaNoWriMo! Let me tell you, IT THE MOST AMAZING THING EVER AND I'M CRAZY IN LOVE WITH IT!!! I want to know why I never knew it existed!! I'm thinking I'm going to post about it on Friday and if you haven't tried it, you should! Oh. My. Dang! :P

P.S Damn. I word regurgitated. Again. Oops! I did that on Barbara's post the other day. So it's not just you. :P

P.P.S I love the strategic placement of the star in RPattz's hair. I'm Team Jacob, so you'll have to forgive if I don't swoon... But it looks like someone took great pleasure in "Lisa Frank-ing" him in Blingee. All that's missing is a unicorn. LOL

"IT'S SO FLUFFY I'M GONNA DIE!" (The Unicorn, not Edward.)

Sorry, I had to squeeze that in after I said "unicorn". LOL

M.S Tucker said...

Oh! And I forgot, when it comes to it, it's not going to be a Teen that gets you published. It'll be an adult who likes teen books and knows what is selling.

Julie said...

Barb: I know, right?! I saw that pic and about lost it!! *snort* Soooo funny!!!

P.s. Your book has hooked me too!!!! Freakin Alex and Daria just need to kiss and make up already... I'm not very far into it, but their relationship angst is killing me!!! Haha!

Heather: thanks! I know it wasn't a big deal (like I said, I never expected to win anyway) but I did have a panic attack there for a few! No worries, my head is back on straight now... forward ho!

Lauren: its prolly cause we both like strawberry cupcakes...

Mandi: OH MY GOSH YOU ARE SO RIGHT!!! Hahahahahaha! I've never even thought of it like that before... that trying to snag an agent is like trying to find Mr. Right!! That. Is. Brilliant. And funny. I totally love it.

And what is this NaNoMobalhblahblah writing all about? I keep hearing people talk aboit it but I have no idea what it is! It reminds me of those little Nano Baby toys I used to lust after in junior high. But I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say thats prolly not what it is...

P.s. Does this count as an annoyong noise? [Blop, blop, blop, blop...]

P.s.s. RPattz's hair IS so fluffy I'm gonna die... bahahahaha!!!

Barbara Kloss said...

YAY! So glad to hear it! Oh, and don't worry...don't you worry one BIT...*cues maniacal laughter* *rubs hands together*

Also know that I ALWAYS love feedback, because it makes me better, and if there are things you like/don't like, I wanna know because it helps me tailor book 2! ;D

M.S Tucker said...

I wrote an entire post about NaNoWriMo! You really should try it! For a whole month you do nothing but right and its community based so you have other encouraging you along the way! The Detroit community is pretty darn awesome and I can't imagine how huge the writing is in Texas!

So check out my blog and then go to and if you can GET SCRIVENER!!! I think that if I hadn't found it, I'd find myself scrambling for note but that program keeps it all!! Photos and renders sites pages so you have them and TONS more!!!

P.S hmm if only I could win me a live Jacob at a carnival... Life would be PERFECT!!! LOL

M.S Tucker said...

Oh brother... I shouldn't EVER write something from my blackberry... There are so many spelling errors it's stupid. Forgive my smart phone, it knows not what it does.

TirzahLaughs said...

I know that feeling. That just because you know you won't win, doesn't mean that some part of you doesn't hope for it.

And it was two teens, not 200,000. If 200,000 teens hate it...well first I'd ask you how you got them all to read it an then I'd tell to then rewrite.



Jeremy Bates said...

just stopping by from Alex Cavanaugh's blog... on the Insecure Writer's Support Tour!
concerning ur post, yeah, its nice to know we're all in the same boat! publishing is a tough industry... it would be a lot tougher if u were navigating it alone!

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do"

-Steve Jobs

Christa said...

Bah. It wasn't that they didn't like it. Just someone else's hooked them more. And it is very possible they weren't in to what you were writing about. What if they don't like contemporary, only paranormal? What if they don't like first person POV? Let go of the lack of reviews from two teenage girls. One day, many more will hate your book:) And even better, MANY MANY MANY more will love it.

Julie said...

Barb: I promise to give feedback! I like the idea that I might have influence over a sequel... bahahahah!

And I'm sorry I'm moving through it SO FREAKIN' SLOW! Gah! [wrings hands!] Its ridiculous how busy I've been... the only books I've been getting through are audio. Grrr. Never fear, though, I'm thoroughly hooked!

Mandi: note to self: check out Nanobaby and scrivener. Also, you should know that my smart phone also sucks and likes to spell out weird non existant words. So no wories! I forgive ( :

Trizah: Hahahaha! Seriously, if I had 200,000 haters, it'd probably mean I'd done SOMETHING right (hopefully). [Gulp]. Cause that translates to twice that many lovers, right?

Any-whooo... I know this contest was no biggy, but you know how our imaginative little writter minds can sometimes get away from us... we always think the bad. Or--as Chicken Little would say--that the sky... is most DEFINITELY... falling.

Jeremy: so true, so true. Us writers might be social recluses sometimes (all holed up in our apts. writing stories) but we need friends too!! Haha ( : Thanks for stoping by!

Christa: very solid points you make! (Wow... that sounded a bit Yoda-ish, didn't it?!) And you are absolutely 100% right! But as a highly emotional, overworked, UN published writer, my emotions temporarily got away from me. Luckily, I wrestled them back into place. Or rather... wrestled them back into place I did.


Lame joke!

M.S Tucker said...

No, no, no! Nanobabies were those virtual pets and babies I used to carry around and if you didn't feed it or clean up it's poop (that normally looked like a hershey kiss, no joke) they'd die and you knew that you were never to adopt or become a teen mom. LOL

Nanowrimo is an author's challenge that encourages writers to write a brand new novel (50K words) in a month! I'm so up for this it's ridiculous. There's career single moms doing this, even teens! This is about as communitarian as it gets!! If you do join the site, come Nov, you get to use Scrivener till Dec. 7 for free until you choose to purchase. Even if you do not make your 50,000 word goal, Scrivener will still sell you the product at 20% off. If you meet your goal, you get a 50% off coupon! It's yet to begin and I'm pumped!!! :)

Melissa Bradley said...

This is some incredibly great, awesomely stupendous advice. We writers are a sensitive bunch so panic and fear and all that are natural. But, it's how we overcome those initial reactions and rise above that makes us.

I had someone shred a story I wrote recently. Just hated every single word, told me my characters were boorish and that I had no respect at all for the culture of the country in which I had set my tale, basically calling into question my research. I was crushed, but after my initial depression and the requisite ice cream and margarita love fest, I moved on. You have to pick yourself up or you'll be on the cold hard ground for a very long time.

Thanks for the follow! Have an awesome weekend. :) I look forward to coming back here for many return visits.

Anonymous said...

Hello there, how are you?? I hope you are well.
I'm just taking time to drop in from Alex's blog hop. Great to "meet" you! *Waving* I'm a new follower.
Hugs Eve.

Julie said...

Melissa: ouch! Talk about stab in the heart! I think you would have license to spend a little while moping in self pity. Borish characters? I think I would cry for a week!

Are you a historical fiction writer then? I think that would be super tough... trying to get the history, culture, dialect, etc. right. Definitley a challenge. If it helps, I think that person sounds like a hater. People who show that much animosity in a critique usually have something else thats bothering them besides your actual writing. Boo to them!

Good luck with future writing! I hope to see you here again soon!

Eve: so great to see you! *waves back* I love new followers! Will definitley be taking a peek at your blog here soon too!

Empty Nest Insider said...

You have come to an astounding realization at such a young age! Now you can move forward with this knowledge, and turn it into your best work. Good luck Julie! Thanks for following me, and I look forward to watching you shine! Julie

Draven Ames said...

That sounds like a really cool contest to enter, even if you didn't win. At least you had the courage to try. A lot of people might not have given it a go. That said, I love the Ben and Jerry's comment, as I am eating some now.

Just wanted to say I spotlighted your post on my blog yesterday.


Julie said...

Empty Nester: Thank you! *blushes*

Draven: wow, awesome! I'm going to check it out right now!

P.s. Woot, woot for ice cream ( :

Amity said...

Hello Julie,

I am elated knowing that you came by my humble blog...

I told Alex I am a lost soul, trying to mingle with published I was sounding like 'how pathetic I am' were the 3rd or the 4th to read my Insecure Entry....and my spirit is kind of being uplifted...:P

I was smiling from beginning to end of your post...but I was so attracted to the writer in you, especially when I saw that beautiful profile pic of yours in your blog...:)

If i were a reader, I wouldn't mind if the novel sucks (you are so beautiful and that's enough to gain a large following) but no, you only have those natural apprehensions, like Alex does have guilty feelings...:)

I wish I could read your 250 words...:)

Thanks Julie...for the visit...:)

Cindy said...

Just because the first 250 words might be hookish doesn't mean the rest of the book will hold up. I've read some books that start out with a bang and end up a huge let down afterwards. Therefore...the contest doesn't really mean that much, so don't worry about it.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Julie
Thanks for coming by my blog. matter what contest or judges are present, it is still upsetting if someone doesn't like my story. Eventually we will out grow this, I hope, when I have 1,000 books available on kindle. Just kidding. Will anyone really have 1,000 books?

Brinda said...

Julie, I feel this way EVERY SINGLE time I enter something. Even when I buy a lottery ticket. I'm is it possible that this isn't my lucky break? I guess I am an optimist. :) I think you are, too. So, Miss Optimist, go forth with your shiny thoughts and hope for the best next time.

Julie said...

Amity: wow, thank you so much. I'm blown away by your compliments! You are very sweet.

Cindy: so true. I get mad at books like that... I feel so betrayed "you lured me in with a hook and didnt follow through!" I sincerely hope I can keep pace through my whole book! Pleeeease don't let me bore the reader!!

Nancy: 1,000 books?! Pshaw! Totally doable! Haha!

Brenda: "What?! You didn't call my number?! This game is totally rigged!!" Yes, I get like this all the time... what a relief to know I'm not the only delusion optimist in the world ( :

S. L. Hennessy said...

Spotlighted you in my Pay It Forward blog ;)

Julie said...

Lauren: yay! Happy dance!!

Matthew MacNish said...

Hi Julie. I'm here as the co-host from the Pay It Forward blogfest. Thanks so much for signing up.

And I wasn't following your blog until just now, so the fest is working!

Barbara Kloss said...

I just spotlighted you, too, on my blog for the Pay if Forward Blogfest!! :)

Julie said...

Matthew: thanks for the follow, AND for hosting such an amazing blogfest! I'm excited to participate and meet lots of awesome new writers!

Barb: yay! Checking it out pronto!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Hi! Count me in as a new "Pay it Forward" follower! :-)

Melissa Sugar said...

Hi, I am stopping by from the "pay it forward" blogfest. Your blog is highly recommended & I am pleased to now be following you and reading your work.


Julie said...

Shannon: Yay! So nice to see you!

Melissa: Wow... highly recomended? I'm flattered! *blushes*

Thanks for stoping by! I heart new followers ( :