Watering the Seeds of Hope

“April showers bring May flowers”. Whenever I hear that phrase, two things immediately come to mind. The first is a song we used to sing in music class, so many years ago when I was in grammar school. Thank you, Mrs. Grote, for giving me a lifelong earworm. Second, I think about the author’s intention in that quote.

I would venture to say that most people would prefer a sunny day over a rainy one. The norm for April, apparently, is showers, and when it rains every day, it sure can bring my spirits down. The same is true for the nitty gritty of the writing life. For every day that I feel energized and positive, there is another where I wonder if I’ll ever get published, or if my writing is any good. Self-doubt, thy name is “Author”.

As writers, there are a million ways to get our work seen, and to get feedback. We form critique groups. We do cold reads. We enter contests, hoping to get our work in front of agents and editors who can give us real feedback. We send out query letters, we send out partial submissions. We pitch agents and editors at conferences.

True story: just about every author I know has entered contests, only to receive conflicting feedback. One reader judge loves your story and can’t wait to see it in print, which she is convinced will happen any day now. The other judge can’t relate to your characters/story/setting. One loves the darling little girl in the story. Another doesn’t like stories that feature kids. One thinks the hero and heroine meet too soon. The other thinks they shouldn’t meet until later. What’s a writer to do?

Think of May flowers. And Kathryn Stockett’s  The Help. Did you know it received sixty rejections before being published?  With all of the people raining on our parades, authors have to develop a thick skin. It is disheartening, to say the least, when the book you’ve spent months on, and is dear to your own heart, keeps getting rejected by agents, editors and contest judges. Does that mean it’s bad? Not necessarily. Publishing is a subjective business. For all of the rejections, sometimes you get a little gem thrown in, something like, “Although your writing is good, the story just isn’t my cup of tea. Another editor might love it.”

Surrounding yourself with positive voices, like critique partners, who actually give you constructive criticism to make your story better, is like lying down in a field of bluebonnets. (Never done it? Try it. It’s wonderful!)

Sometimes, an agent will like your writing enough to take the time to talk to you about how you can make your story more sellable. Once in awhile, you final in one of those contests you’ve entered, and you receive really good feedback in the process.

In the meantime, make the effort to stay on top of the trends in publishing. Join a writer’s group, like New Jersey Romance Writers. If there is a published author  who writes similar works to yours, find out who represents him (or her). Read up on who publishes that author, also. Knowledge is the food that helps your book take root.

So, while you might feel like you are inundated with those April showers, remember, they bring May flowers. Like cultivating a peony, which can take three to five years to bloom, keep spreading your inner, optimistic sunshine on your work. Fertilize it with knowledge. Eventually, you will be rewarded with the most fragrant and spectacular of May flowers, a contract.

Have a story about how April showers led to your own May flowers, either in publishing or in life? I’d love to hear it! One lucky responder this month will win a $20 Barnes & Noble gift certificate, courtesy of The Violet Femmes.

 

Hugs and Blooms,

Jaye

 

p.s. Be sure to come back next week, when our guest blogger, the fabo Nancy Herkness, will share her own story of April showers. Nancy will be offering a special prize all her own, available to one person who comments on her blog post!

Advertisements
Leave a comment

16 Comments

  1. Most writers do go through those gray days when we doubt ourselves. But it’s important to persevere. Here’s a quote I always tell my writing class (Mt. Olive Adult School):
    “The only difference between a published writer and an unpublished writer is that the published writer didn’t give up.” Elaine Fantle Shimberg (author of “How to be a Successful Housewife/Writer and many non-ficition articles and books).

    Reply
  2. Jaye Marie Rome

     /  April 9, 2012

    Hi, Roni! Love that quote! It is so true, isn’t it?

    I would add…”one that actually writes and doesn’t just talk about it”, lol!

    Thanks for visiting!

    Jaye

    Reply
  3. hieubietusa

     /  April 9, 2012

    60 rejections? Is that the record? If so, I feel my efforts will eclipse that mark.
    Your post was well-recieved by my confused and beaten psyche. Your outline for trying to get published is a good format for anyone to follow. I’ll try it…I’m running out of ideas.
    I received three rating sheets from my last contest submission. One marked me mid-level, offering advice. The next gave me two of the highest scores in a category ever received since I decided to enter contests…an 8.5 and a 9(wow!) The next sheet possessed an average score of 5.5 (5 being the lowest you can score in a category)
    The second rater loved aspects of my story that the first person commented on, negatively. The last one hinted in her comments that I should consider tennis or painting or skydiving…anything other than writing.

    Thanks Jaye…for the medicinal post

    Reply
  4. Jaye Marie Rome

     /  April 9, 2012

    Ahh, Joe…don’t you love when your feedback confuses you even more? I had a similar experience with my contest submissions. Remember my mantra…”It’s all subjective”. I love your poetic style. It’s original and emotional.

    Take those high scores and hold them close to your heart. Then take the middling scores and extract the constructive comments from them. Obviously, when you get two comments that are in exact conflict with each other, do what feels right and true to you and your story.

    Keep plugging away…your day is coming, my friend!

    🙂
    Jaye

    Reply
  5. Jaye, great post! And so very true. I think what we as writers have to learn to do is separate “the writing” from “the publishing”. The two are oh-so-different. Writing is an art . Publishing is a business. Successful authors find a way to work at the intersection of the two worlds, making their books both brilliant and marketable. The joy of today’s technology is that if your book is brilliant but NOT marketable (to traditional publishers at least), you can publish it yourself. As an author, I find that hugely comforting when I start a new book…because we all want our stories to be read.

    I’m really looking forward to visiting here next week! Thanks again for inviting me!

    Reply
  6. Jaye Marie Rome

     /  April 9, 2012

    Thanks, Nancy…so smart of you to make that distinction. Some authors (friends of ours) have had fantastic recent success self-publishing a book that supposedly wasn’t marketable. You are quite right about the intersection of the two worlds. Publishing is changing on a daily basis, and we as writers really need to stay on top of the trends.

    Can’t wait until next week, either! We are thrilled you will be our guest!

    Jaye

    Reply
  7. Nicole Doran

     /  April 9, 2012

    Jaye – so true..so true. Some days the self doubt takes over and no amount of motivation – or excessive caffeine can help. But the next day – things look better. I’m a May baby – so maybe that’s the secret – keep going and next month something may really click. Thanks for the post and words of encouragement.
    Nicole

    Reply
    • Jaye Marie Rome

       /  April 9, 2012

      Nicole, those ups and downs are a killer, aren’t they? Kind of like riding a bike in the mountains…the struggle up goes on forever, and the blissful coasting of the downhills goes by way to fast! Keep pumping those pedals, and the uphills seem far easier than they did in the beginning.

      Hope you get those May flowers soon!

      Jaye

      Reply
  8. Great post! I am waiting on those May flowers. 🙂

    Reply
  9. jennablueblogs

     /  April 10, 2012

    Hi Jaye! Great post, and great comments, too. It feels less lonely when you know everyone else experiences the same doubt you do! Even though I should be riding the high these days (I do have a few moments of true, thrilling joy and absolute confidence), I’m mostly plagued by fear and doubt that I can’t do it again…not quite…everybody goes through this, right?

    May flowers…and maybe just starting the next book. I decided today that writing must be much like my design projects. Starting is the hardest part…after that, you can run–even if it’s with a pronounced limp in the wrong direction! No matter how painful or embarrassing!

    Soon as May flowers arrive, we’ll all stock up!
    Jenna Blue

    Reply
    • Jaye Marie Rome

       /  April 11, 2012

      @Jenna, absolutely everyone goes through it. There are so many highs and lows on the business side of writing…and on the creative side, too! When you find that scene or that dialogue that soars, so does your confidence. Then you get a day where you know everything you are writing will end up being cut, and you wonder if you will ever finish the book.

      Thank God for the good days, the positive reinforcement, the baby steps forward!

      Jaye

      Reply
  10. Great post, Jaye. Sometimes instead of running for cover when those April showers hit, you have to just stand out and let it drench you. Then, you can dry off, put on dry clothes, and make a plan. I’m a plan type of person (as my fellow Golden Leaf co-chairs know). If plan A doesn’t work, I come up with another one. There’s always going to be doors being shut in our faces on the road to publication. We just have to decide if we’re going to allow that to make us turn away or find a way to go through the door differently. Or…to go through a different door (plan B, etc.).

    Reply
  11. Jaye Marie Rome

     /  April 12, 2012

    Ooh, yes, Maria…wise observation…always have a Plan B.

    I used to be really organized and kept all kinds of lists to stay that way…now, I just throw up my hands and let things happen. It’s hard to be the regimented one when nobody else in the family is, lol! You either go crazy, or give in!

    Reply
  12. Hi Jaye, I totally agree with Maria’s comment. Let it rain in April! Because after a long rain, sometimes there’s a . . . rainbow. And, like most writers, we think a pot of gold might just be under it! 😉

    Reply
  13. RoseAnn DeFranco

     /  May 7, 2012

    Love all the positive reinforcement here. With this is mind…LET IT RAIN!!!! 🙂

    Reply

Talk Back to the Femmes....

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: