Saturday, September 11, 2010

Welcome Brenda Whiteside

Brenda Whiteside

There’s a fine line between confidence and abject insecurity. For an author, the abject insecurity can sneak up at anytime and stall you, or at least convince you every word going from head to paper has bypassed the creative juice chamber coming out dry and tasteless. Such is the journey. And we all travel this road differently.

I love to write about characters on a journey, traveling both the physical and the mental roads. My first novel length release, Sleeping with the Lights On, has such a journey for my heroine, Sandra Holiday. Along the fictional journey I create pitfalls and summits, conflicts and resolutions. The road to publication is no different, although as authors we’d like to skip the pitfalls and conflicts. The path to getting my first book published could have been a dead end had the order of events happened differently.

The abject insecurity I mentioned earlier usually hits me three times when I’m writing a book: two chapters short of completion, while I’m writing the synopsis, and again right after I type “the end”. I always manage to muddle through the last two chapters, a whip in one hand holding off my negative inner critic. I wring those chapters out, a word, no a syllable at a time. I won’t even go into the torture of writing a synopsis. But the final phase, the now-I’m-finished-and-who-will-publish-this-inadequate-book is the hardest to overcome.

When I finished Sleeping with the Lights On, I entered two contests to confirm or put to rest my insecurity. Let someone else judge the book’s worthiness. And then I waited.

I’m not a patient person. In a rash moment, I queried one publisher. The Wild Rose Press responded so quickly asking for a partial, I was left giddy. A few weeks later, they requested a full. Jump ahead three months to “the call” or really the email. Excited? Oh, yes. Insecurity? Gone in a flash.

But here’s the difference between fiction and reality; between the logical order of events an author writes and real life experience. Two days after getting “the call”, I received notification on the two contests. The judges had a slightly different response to my book.

Rejection is hard to take regardless of how thick your hide. But I have to say, rejection is much easier to handle when you’ve already been accepted for publication. The journey to getting published is much better when the summit comes first and you can look down at the pitfall and scoff – with confidence. I’ll never know how I might have reacted to those less than winning critiques had I not published first. Would I have shoved the book into a drawer to collect dust? I hope not – must be a moral in this tale.

I haven’t found a cure for conquering the insecurities, but perseverance gets me over the crest. I won’t quit entering the occasional contest, but I’ll not take the results as the final word. My second, yet to be published novel is out there ready to be battered or praised by contest judges and publishers. This journey could be entirely different with an entirely different ending. The journey has to have a happily ever after ending and the trick is to not stop until you arrive.

Is there a book you’ve read and raved about that a friend found dull or boring? If you’re a writer, have you let a contest result influence what you did with your manuscript?

Brenda has been writing all of her life in one way or another from the captions on her childish artwork to teenage psychedelic scrolls to her current novel.
After publishing several short stories, she turned to writing novels. Regardless of the length of her story, the characters drive her forward, taking her on their journey of discovery and love.
Her life is blessed with three creative soul mates. Her son, a singer/song writer lives in a far off western town in the pines. She lives in Minnesota, a nature wonderland that captured her heart seventeen years ago, with her husband, an excellent photographer, and their dog Rusty, who creates joy (and is the smartest dog in the world).
Visit Brenda at on FaceBook:


Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Brenda,
Great blog, I certainly agree with every word you wrote. Perseverence is the key to publication, I am convinced of it, well along with talent.

Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Brenda, well said and perfectly put. On top of the fear of rejection, it's just hard to "put yourself out there" . I'm glad I started doing it though, instead of keeping wips hidden in my hard drive or in the old days, under my bed LOL. Good post.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Thanks for stopping by Margaret and Tanya. Sounds like you both understand the importance of "keep on keeping".

Susan Macatee said...

I know exactly what you're talking about, Brenda. I'm nearing the end of a new manuscript, but just had to go back to the opening, polish those first chapters up and enter a couple of contests. Mostly for my own peace of mind before I start revising. A novel takes up such a huge chunk of your writing time, it seems like such a waste when you finish, submit and get a rejection.

But I have to agree, it is easier to take those rejections once you've already been published. I have a completed novel sitting in my drawer right now, that I have to revise again and resubmit. I have an editor interested, but only if I revise.

Rebecca J. Clark said...

Great post. And I understand completely. For me, the insecurities come out when I hit about page 100, then I'm convinced this is the stupidest thing I've ever written and that I'll never sell again. Sigh. But you just have to keep on keeping on.


Brenda Whiteside said...

Susan - get busy on that revision! Please don't think it's a waste, ever. You pour your heart into something, which is more than most people can do, then you've accomplished a lot. Keep submitting - we all know those stories of famous authors that were rejected a hundred times before they published!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Becky, I have to smile. I do the same thing toward the end of the book. That inner critic can be ruthless. Keep at lady!!

rbooth43 said...

What a loss for the ones who rejected you. They must not know what the readers like. Sleeping With The Lights On is a great love story with heroine, Sandra Holiday who has, as Brenda said, pitfalls and summits, conflicts and resolutions that keep a reader spell-bound and can't wait to find out what happens next. I am now a fan of Brenda's work and am waiting with pins and needles for her next book. Wild Rose Press knew what the reader likes.
Congrads Brenda.

Janet said...

Sorry I'm late in welcoming you to The Prairies, Brenda - but it seems everyone got started without me! Glad to see some new faces here - and very glad you're blogging with us today :)

As a writer with many rejections, I can attest to the anguish and diminishing self-confidence! But, as you've already mentioned, Brenda, there's a ton of stories about famous authors and their rejections (Stephen King, J.K Rowling, etc). I guess writing is more than just a great story, it's perseverance and determination, too!

Again, thanks for joining us today, Brenda - and great blogpost :)

Leigh D'Ansey said...

I start out full of confidence. By about page 50 I'm thinking "Who will ever read this rubbish?" and from then on it's a real slog until say, the last two chapters.

I think competitions do have value, especially if judges give constructive feedback, but it's important not to get too disheartened if you don't place.

The more experience I gather as a writer the more I see that perseverence is perhaps the most important quality to nurture.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Becky, thanks for your comments. You are so kind!

Leigh, you are so right about perseverance. And a word on contests - some authors abhor them, others thrive on them. You are so correct in not letting them get you down if you don't get the response you were hoping for. If they give you constructive feedback, they might be worthwhile. The contests that only give you a nod or a turn down aren't the best to gauge the quality of your work.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Hi Janet. Not to worry. I've been in and out today - had a couple of writing related meetings but I'm back at the keyboard now! Thanks so much for having me.

kalai said...

Though I have published short stories, I have not yet written a novel. After reading your blog, I am confident that I can also write a novel.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Good for you Kalai! Go for it.

Laura Breck said...

Hey Brenda,

Great post, sorry I'm a day late. I love your insight on contests. The results depend so much on the judge's personal tastes.

The secret is that somewhere out there, there's an editor who will love our writing, and "poof" we get The Call!

Phins up!

Jana Richards said...

Hi Brenda,
Sorry I'm a day late in greeting you. Welcome to the Prairies.

When the Saskatchewan Romance Writers held the "We Dare You" contest, we didn't always agree on which were the best stories. A lot of it came down to individual tastes. That's the way contests go. You pay your money and you take your chances.

I can certainly agree with you about publishing being the best cure for rejection blues. My confidence was nearly zero by the time I finally published. It helped me to keep writing. But I still think that everything new I write is crap at one point in the process!