Tuesday, December 27, 2011

RERUN: believe you're a badass (even if no one else does)

It's a quiet week in the blogosphere as people spend time with family, reflect on the meaning of the holidays, and ponder career futures in competitive eating.

It seems like a good week to trot out an old entry from my early days of blogging. The following post originally appeared in March 2010, just a few weeks after my agent landed me my three-book romantic comedy deal. Though my life has changed a bit since I wrote it, I still feel passionate about the importance of believing in yourself even without the validation of others.

For those who missed it on the first round, here's the post:

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 friends, family, and 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.


Unknown said...

I've grown up in a family that always made a point to make sure you never thought you were worth something. Not even when you were best in school (literary). I'm lucky they never took an interest in my writing. I don't know why I keep at this publishing dream, but it's certainly not because I think I'm awesome.

But I'm very grateful for that little nudge in my heart that makes me keep dreaming even when my brain tells me I suck.

And I must say, you started in just 2002 and you're already this good? That's very impressive! Good work.

Steph Schmidt said...

Every time you rerun this post it reminds me that a bumpy road to publishing is okay! Helps me stop beating up myself because I haven't hit my goal yet. Rather hard when you read stories about the wonder authors who seem to get things the instant they try.

Thank you for writing such fantastic stories, and thank you for being an even better author role model.

Deborah Small said...

Thank you for a very timely reminder, <3

Deborah Small said...

Thank you for such a timely reminder. <3

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I am awesome. Thank you for reminding me of this :)