Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I've always been awesome, how about you?

I haven’t seen the movie Precious. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t pick Academy Award-nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe out of a police lineup.

But I recently read a quote that made me want to grab her by the face and lick her ear (or something equally affectionate):

“They [the press] try to paint the picture that I was this downtrodden, ugly girl who was unpopular in school and in life and then I got this role and now I'm awesome,” she said. “But the truth is that I've been awesome, and then I got this role."

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.

In recent weeks, casual acquaintances who’ve learned of my recent three-book deal with Sourcebooks have asked me how it feels.

What’s it like to know you’re finally good enough to sell a book?

Want to know the answer I can’t give them because I don’t want to sound like an egotistical bitch?

I was always good enough to sell a book. It just took awhile for the right editor to realize it.

Look, I’m not saying I didn’t have a lot to learn, and I’ve certainly written some craptastic stuff over the years. Even the book I originally sold to Harlequin/Silhouette’s Bombshell line back in 2005 is something I’m happy to leave tucked under my bed. I’ve grown a lot as a writer since then, and I’m much happier with the way I write now.

But if I hadn’t believed from the first moment I started writing fiction in 2002 that I was good enough to be published, I doubt I could have held on for the duration of my bumpy ride to publication.*

As an author, you have to believe that. Even on days you don’t believe it, you need to stand there in front of the mirror and say, “Dammit, I rule.”

Or some variation on that.

I’m lucky. My parents bestowed upon me a disturbingly high self-esteem, and my husband & agent believed in me no matter how many rejections rolled in. That’s a big part of how I kept going despite all the setbacks along the way.

That, and a lot of Chianti.

Getting published isn’t about who you know, who you shag, or even how well you write. It’s about believing in yourself enough to keep going no matter how many times someone slaps you on the ass and says, “close, but no cigar.”

So let’s all say it together now, shall we?

I’m awesome. I’ve always been awesome. I’m awesome whether it takes me 12 days or 12 years to get published.

Repeat as often as necessary until you believe it.

*If you’re new to this blog and don’t know what I’m talking about, go here for the full story of my rather lengthy road to publication.

35 comments :

Sean Ferrell said...

You are awesome, and so is this post.

Liz Czukas said...

Every time I come back to your blog, I get a bigger blogcrush on you. This is a fabulous philosophy and I'm going to go practice it for a bit.

Maybe I should have some chianti first.

- Liz

Candyland said...

I second that! Wrote about the same thing last week! Belief in yourself is the best place to be.

Elisabeth Black said...

It's also helpful to actually BE awesome. Like me, for instance. ;) (and you of course)

OfficeGirl said...

You are awesome!! Hell, we are all awesome in our own special way! Good call!

Karla Nellenbach said...

You know, if you ever decide to take a break from fake car sex, wine drinking in the name of research, and trying to keep your thieving cat from bringing home mystery-stained toilet paper, you would have a lucrative career in motivational speaking!

I am awesome! that feels pretty good to say! :)

Jen said...

Way to go! Way to know you're awesome, and it's true when you believe others believe! I'm not doing all this hard work for nothing, I'm enjoying my time, I love to write and eventually everyone else will catch the bug and want to read what I write! I know it's there!

Tawna Fenske said...

Sean, why thank you! You're mildly awesome yourself (though you'd be more awesome if you shared your wagel with me).

Liz, the Chianti definitely helps with the awesomeness. I find I'm more awesome with every sip.

Candyland, I'll have to go back and look for your blog post! Enjoyed your recent one about beating writer's block.

Elizabeth, yes, some of us have the advantage of starting from a point of awesomeness and working our way up from there :)

OfficeGirl, let me know when you've coordinated a cheer-leading routine for us! We can take this on the road.

Karla, before the book deal came through (when things were fairly bleak) my agent used to joke that this would all end up as fodder for my future motivational speeches. I don't think she was entirely kidding.

Jen, amen to that! I know some writers who say, "oh, I don't care if I get published, I'm just doing it for the love of writing." Uh,no. Not me. This is a lot of hard work, and we deserve to be rewarded for it.

Thanks for reading, guys!

Tawna

NWFoodie said...

An awesome post by an awesome person! I raise an awesome glass of Chianti to you! I'll revisit this post when I finish and start on my quest for the holy agent grail quest.

Rhonda said...

You are absolutely made of awesome!! :) I haven't seen Precious either but I've seen Gabourey Sidibe and she has an amazing sense of self-esteem without being conceited about it. Despite the fact that she doesn't reflect the Hollywood "norm" for beauty, she owns who she is and she seems to be okay with that. I think that's also made of awesome!

I, on the other hand, need to work on embracing my inner awesomeness. I was the picked on, pushed aside kid in school and my family wasn't horribly big on the "follow your dreams, you can do anything" crap.

Hmm...sense a blog post spin off of my own here... :) Thanks for some awesome food for thought.

Linda G. said...

Amen, sistah. :)

mumfusa said...

This post contains a good dose of awesome. And it's something we all need to remember we all have. Thanks!

Tawna Fenske said...

NWFoodie, it's never too early to begin convincing yourself of your own awesomeness. Better start working on it now.

Rhonda, I know lots of people who have to work harder at convincing themselves of their awesomeness, which doesn't make them any less awesome...just means they have to devote a little more time to it. Seems like a worthy use of time to me!

Linda G, can I get a hallelujah, too?

mumfusa, awesome does indeed make the world go 'round. Depending on how much Chianti you have, it can start spinning pretty fast sometimes.

Thanks for reading!
Tawna

Courtney Reese said...

Thank you for posting this. It's hard to remember it sometimes--at least until someone slaps you in the face and pulls you out of your slump ;)
Thanks for the slap.

Keri Stevens said...

You should get together with Lani Diane Rich/Lucy March. Every time we're around her, she makes us shout, "I am a great writer!" After the first couple-dozen times, the low-blood-sugar/high-fear-based-adrenaline rush kicks in and we kinda sorta start to believe it.

Debra L. Schubert said...

Fanfreakingtastic. I believe firmly that confidence is king (or queen). Here's a variation on my sister, Laurie's philosophy of Love Laurie & Live a Lovely Life:

BE AWESOME & LIVE AN AWESOME LIFE!

Life's short. Strut your stuff.

Patrick Alan said...

I'm too awesome for this blog. Too awesome for this blog. I think I'll drink some grog.

I'm too sexy for this shirt. Too sexy for this shirt...

Tawna Fenske said...

Courtney, I'm happy to slap you anytime. Come on back whenever you need it! I'll consider it a public service.

Keri, I think I might wet myself if I got to meet Lucy March/Lani Diane Rich. She's on my "authors I'd like to meet but probably shouldn't because I'd just swoon and pee" list. Don't you have one of those?

Debra, Amen to that! Preach the good word, sister!

Patrick, you are definitely too awesome and sexy for most things. You're still planning to model for the cover of my book, right?

Tawna

lora96 said...

Soooo cool. I love the quote and your interpretation of it. I wandered over from the lucymarch blog. Glad I did! Must be cuz I'm awesome...

Larissa said...

Of course you're awesome! I don't follow any un-awesome people. :)

And I know I'm awesomely awesome because Carrie Harris said so. (and I have proof: http://carrieharrisbooks.blogspot.com/2010/03/answers-covers-and-lawn-flamingos.html)

teehee

Christi Goddard said...

Man, I wish someone would smack me on the ass as an attachment to the rejection emails. It'd be almost as cool as Smell-o-Vision.

I'm certain I'll be published someday. I know that I was meant to write, and eventually an agent's interest will be piqued. Maybe not this book, or even my WIP, but someday. Oh, yes... someday I'll get to apologize to my friends for my crappy cover art and whine I had no say in it. :-)

Jaydee Morgan said...

Great post and an excellent attitude. We should think this about ourselves - and without any guilt.

Amie Boudreau said...

I love your attitude :) I am going to post a link to this blog post because there are people I know who I really want to read this!!

Tawna Fenske said...

What the hell, how did I delete my own blog comments?

OK, starting where I left off...

Courtney, I'm happy to slap you anytime. Come on back whenever you need it! I'll consider it a public service.

Keri, I think I might wet myself if I got to meet Lucy March/Lani Diane Rich. She's on my "authors I'd like to meet but probably shouldn't because I'd just swoon and pee" list. Don't you have one of those?

Debra, Amen to that! Preach the good word, sister!

Patrick, you are definitely too awesome and sexy for most things. You're still planning to model for the cover of my book, right?

lora96, welcome! I can't promise to be as funny as Lucy March's vajazzled blog post, but I do offer some nice posts on eyebrow waxing, dog doo, scrotums, and fake sex. Stick around!

Larissa, I will take Carrie Harris' blog post as evidence of your awesomeness! Congratulations on achieving that milestone.

Christi, well, since I just offered to slap Courtney in the face, I suppose I can slap your ass while I'm at it. Ass-slap or no ass-slap, I like your attitude!

Jaydee, I never feel guilty about feeling awesome. That's just too confusing.

Thanks for reading, everyone!

Tawna

Tawna Fenske said...

Amie, whoops, looks like I missed you on that last round of replies. Sure, post away with your linkage! Thanks for visiting.

Tawna

Cynthia Reese said...

Tawna, I can tell you that you are awesomeness itself! Glad you hung onto that inner conviction -- your writing is as awesome as you are a person. And that is QUITE a feat!

Lindsay said...

Well, I feel foolish since I only JUST started liking you when you got the book deal. Silly me.

Lynne Kelly Hoenig said...

Love this-- what a great post! Reminds me of my New Year's Resolution to greet myself every morning with, "Good morning, bad-ass!"

And you'll be amazed if you see Precious; all the actors are great, but Gabourey transforms herself for the role.

Erica Chapman said...

Woo Hoo! Way to say it. What a great quote too. This is a wonderful attitude to have. There are days I feel I'm awesome, but I'm afraid the one's I feel opposite outnumber those. I'm getting there, slowly ;o)

Great post - you are awesome!

Claire Dawn said...

Have I ever told you I love you?

I'm so tempted to steal you from Pythagoras, in a totally non-lesbian way. :)

You ARE awesome! How can those people even ask you that and not be blinded by your awesomeness?

Xuxana said...

If you're right and it's not about how well you write. Then maybe I stand a chance is the crazy 'ol publishing world ;)

Tawna Fenske said...

Somehow my comments have reappeared, so now it looks like I'm replying to a few of you more than once. Don't you feel special? (don't I feel like a dumb-ass?)

No, wait. I'm awesome.

Ahem.

Cynthia, do you want me to send a check or cash in payment for the kind remarks? Please remind me what amount we agreed upon.

Lindsay, I'm still waiting to like you. Maybe if you bought me a drink?

Lynn Kelly, I so love your New Year's resolution! I might have to borrow that.

Erica, you are awesome, too! Maybe if you get a bunch of other people to tell you regularly, it would have more impact?

Claire Dawn, will check with Pythagoras, but I'm sure he wouldn't mind the thieving, lesbian or non-lesbian. Thanks for reading!

Xuxana, I know I'm right about it not being about how well you write. Have you seen some of the crap that gets published? Sorry, sorry, may lightning strike me for saying that. What I meant to say is that your writing surely rocks, so it doesn't matter whether it's an issue of quality or not.

Thanks for reading, guys!

Tawna

angfla said...

I found you off of Nicole Duclerior's blog and I loved this post so much I had to follow you immediately (wow, that sounds sort of stalkerish). Congrats on your book deal with Sourcebooks. I also read your path to publication and my I say I'm impressed that you hung in there and kept believing in your writing through all of that.

Tawna Fenske said...

angfla, stalk away! Glad the blog posts resonate with you. It's certainly been a long road, but I'm enjoying it a bit more now!

Tawna

Mary Brebner said...

LOL--every time I hear "Awesome" lately, I think of Chuck and Captain Awesome. 'cuz this post was totally awesome.

Actually, I'm taking your "I was always good enough to sell a book. It just took awhile for the right editor to realize it." to heart--I'm on the road to publication, too. A handful of rejections so far, with one partial (that, unfortunately turned into a rejection) but I figure, like you did (with success!!), I just have to find the right agent then the right publishing house. Why? Because I, too, AM AWESOME!!

And your posts rock.