Thursday, June 28, 2012

Doing it alone isn't fun, even with good batteries

If you're here today for the cheap laugh, this would be an excellent day to visit or That's where I go when I want to laugh hard enough to shoot Chianti out my nose.

Yesterday brought me an unexpected setback on the personal front, and I'm not feeling all that funny.

What I am feeling is inspired by the people around me.

Those familiar with my long road to publication know I'm not one to give up easily. I'll stay and fight long after most sane people would pack up their toys and leave the sandbox. Call it tenacity, call it stupidity, call it confusion about the appropriate time to throw in the towel. It's served me well on occasion, while other times I've realized I would have been better off watching Judge Judy reruns and contemplating whether my toenails would look better in Love Hue Tender or Saucy Sage.

Yesterday....well, it felt like the latter. Something I've been working on for over a year fell apart like a cheap sex toy that's lost its battery pack, and I was ready to toss the whole thing in the trash and buy a fern instead.

And that's where I found myself unexpectedly buoyed by the strength of others. (I was going to continue the metaphor here and say something about them digging the broken sex toy out of the garbage and sanitizing it with a healthy spritz of Come Clean, but I remembered I'm talking about people like my mom and my realtor and my literary agent and it seemed a little oogie).

What I've loved about these people who've come to my aid when I'm at the point of disconnecting my phone and hiding under the bed is that their cheers don't take the form of "you can do it!" platitudes. Anyone who's felt beaten down knows there's a point where encouragement like that just makes you want to smack the cheerleader in the face with a pancake turner.

But shouts of, "We can do it," or "Let me help," or "I'm proud of you for getting this far" – those are better than a good glass of wine and an encouraging butt pat when times are rough.

Well, maybe not better than the butt pat, but close.

There have been moments like this in every aspect of my life, from writing careers to relationships to real estate. Right when I'm ready to shove my sword back in its scabbard, someone – or several someones – will step forward and pick it up, ready to do battle.

(Feel free to insert your own awkward romance author sword metaphor here. I'll wait).

When new writers ask me for career advice, I know they're often seeking something concrete and simple to execute. Take this class. Read this book. Query this agent. 

But in truth, the secret to getting through the inevitable tough stuff both as a writer and a human is to work as hard as you can for as long as you can while surrounding yourself with others who can pick you up when you're ready to lie down in the road like a squished possum.

Have there been times in your life when someone stepped forward to carry the baton when you were ready to stick it up someone's nostril and call it a day? Please share!

Oh, and for the record, Chase Mortgage is the devil. I just need to put that out there.


Darrell B. Nelson said...

Yes Chase the embodiment of all that is evil and vile, an unholy group of maggots that feast upon the darkest forces that occupy the human soul.
I'm glad you have people to support you against the forces of evil.

Unknown said...

Sorry for the run of badness, Tawna. Hang in there! One setback, or 1,000, won't define our lives. But the next time you decide to keep going just might.

Btw, can we just say that all mortgage companies are the devil? I think they share residence with lawyers and car salesman in whatever corner of hell they hunker down in at night. (Sorry in advance to all the lawyers married to car salesman I've just put off.) :)

Lisa Ahn said...

Sorry for the heartbreak -- but I'm glad you have inspirational people around you and a whole lot of tenacity.
I definitely have had setbacks as a writer and as a mother. I draw a lot of strength from my husband, who is even-keeled (I am not). Books are indispensable. Other than that, I'm just plain stubborn.
I just wrote a post about versatility and inspiration and listed you as one of the writers who inspires me -- so there!

Unknown said...

I can only agree, and say that you're lucky to have found people who stand up for (with) you. Hope it all works out.

Heather M. Gardner said...

You inspire me...all the time.

I'm hoping you have better luck soon.


Chris said...

The higher the pile of sh#*, the better the rose comes out looking and smelling!!! (My grandpa use to tell me that and it would just make me laugh because that would be the only time I heard him swear!!!)

Chase has a lot of legal stuff against them for scamming the system, so you may want to look into that, just throwing that out there if you need it!!! :)

Caitlin Whitaker said...

Buy a plug-in toy:

Also, you are my one of my favorite sources of motivation when I feel like buying a fern. Thanks to some highly publicized success stories (I was a single mom who wrote in a laundromat, now I'm richer than the Queen of England; I had a dream that became book, a movie, and a religion in 24hrs; I self published some fan fiction and now I'm responsible for 90% of the female orgasms in this country), writers expect a book deal and a million dollars right after they type "the end".

That was me three years ago. Finished my manuscript in May, planned on giving signed copies of my book as Christmas presents that year. I honest-to-God sent my first query letter within an hour of wrapping up my first (rough) draft. *snort* Not even close. Dozens of queries later, I was ready to abort mission and take up a different hobby. Maybe macrame. What I didn't realize at the time was how hugely encouraged I should have been by the response. It was my very first MS and it was rough enough to draw blood, but my request/rejection ratio was phenomenal.

You know the crazy part? That whole ordeal was just a scratch on the surface of the publishing process. Getting an agent doesn't mean you're going to get published. It doesn't mean your book is going to fly off the shelves and become a blockbuster film and pay off your mortgage (you're dead on about Chase, BTW).

I could've given up and sat in my closet, eating Nutella with my fingers and letting the hair on my legs grow long enough to braid, but I didn't.

I could've given the literary agent profession in general a big fat middle finger salute, bopped on over to Amazon, and let my story disappear into the ebook abyss, but I didn't.

The eReader revolution has made self-publishing accessible and affordable so any schmo with a basic knowledge of phonetics and internet access can wear an "I'm a Published Author" t-shirt. Even after three years of work (my kids stretched this out--it could've been half that time), I'm not ready to stop trying.

I'm taking little steps; writing (which isn't always as easy as it sounds), reading (how can you write if you don't read?), and learning (getting short stories published is a great introduction to the business). I've made truly amazing friends in the process, who've become an invaluable source of support and inspiration. When I'm ready to send out query letters again, I'll have a much better understanding of what's going on.

I'm doing it the long, hard way (snicker) and using stories like yours as the kick in the seat I need when I feel like it's never going to happen. Most stories aren't laced with as much innuendo as yours though, which is why you're one of my favorites.

And this, my friends, is why people who talk a lot and type really fast should NEVER post comments on a day without coffee.

You rock out loud, Tawna Fenske. Keep it up! (snicker again)

Judy,Judy,Judy. said...

Glad you have such people in your life, Tawna.
And the bad guys will heretofore be known as the Evil Chase Mortgage. yessiree

Julie Glover said...

I hate those days. I suppose they are inevitable in life, but I'd rather have strawberries fields forever. Why can't we?

Best wishes stomping through the cow pattie of life. You'll be back on the horse in no time. Sorry, I'm a Texan and can't resist the cliches today. (Although I know saying "back on the horse" to a romantic comedy author is dangerous territory.)

Rich Amooi said...

When my wife has a set-back, I tell her, "This means something even better is on the way for you. How cool!" It always happens too. Expect it Tawna. If you really analyze it, it's probably pretty small compared to some of the other crap you've been through in your life.

A good support team is great, though. After 13 years of being single, I met an incredible woman and fell in love. But then, I got scared. It was new territory for me and I didn't know what to do. I started to retreat. My buddy (who has been married for 25 years) came around to slap me in the head a few hundred times and set me straight. I married my wife a few months later and it was the best decision I ever made. Support is good. Much better than a one-man pity party.

Di Eats the Elephant said...

Glad I'm not the only one who wants to throttle people who throw out platitudes or misdirected advice. Gee, thanks, folks, maybe I can plaster my wall with your spit. You've got a great sense of humor; glad I found you today, floating around not writing on my own Chick-Lit mystery (from SinC to writer's blog, to writer's guest blog to your guest blog to you). People need more humor in their life, particularly those at Chase. Don't have a mortgage with them, thank g-d, but they do manage to piss me off fairly often. I wonder if that's one of their meaningful measures of success?