Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Turning Point

I’ve had several turning points in my writing career. The first one was when I decided to stop writing just for my own amusement and submit what I’d written to editors and agents in the hopes of getting published. That was huge for me. My stories entertain me. They make me feel good. I truly enjoy them. By submitting them to others, I was letting people judge me and my writing. Until that time, I’d never let anyone read anything I’d written, not even my husband.

The second turning point came when I found a critique partner. Not only was I letting someone else read what I’d written, I was letting them make constructive suggestions about how to better my writing. It’s not that I think I’m so wonderful that I can’t benefit from someone else’s suggestions. I’m not and I can. It’s just that I was creating a new process; I was taking my writing seriously enough to actively try to make it better.

The third turning point occurred when my publisher accepted my manuscript and I told my parents. Until that time, they had no idea I wrote. Now, not only was their “baby” a published writer, but they could talk to me about it, read my book (OMG) and ask me questions. They could tell their friends, and I had to learn to answer without blushing—something I’m still not good at doing. Additionally, they now ask me what I’m working on currently, and I can’t exactly say “Nothing.”

I think that’s the hardest part about the turning points in my writing career. Writing is a solitary process, and perfect for introverts like me. Learning to talk openly about it, to discuss it with others and to compare notes, is something I’m still adjusting to doing. In the past, the only pressure I’ve felt with my writing was created by me. Now, if other people know I’m writing something, they ask me about it—what is it, how far I’ve gotten, whether I’ve submitted it, what I’ve heard. I’m thrilled with the interest; don’t get me wrong. I’m just not accustomed to other people’s timelines. I’m still learning to balance interest from others with pressure to get another story published, even if that pressure is created in my head.

It’s a learning experience, and a good one. One that I hope to achieve!


  1. Jennifer,

    Talking about my own writing to others really is a bit of a scary thing. I'm in the process of submitting a mss and it took me forever to work up the courage to ask for a read-through from a few chapter mates. Why is that? I joined that group to help me with my writing career...it's just so scary to put my work, and myself in a sense, out there.

    But, it was a good decision...they've already come up with some great ideas for tightening a few things in the plot and conflict.

  2. Some interesting turning points for you there, Jen, especially as it's something I've never really had to face. In my teens, I wrote my stories for my friends to read, so I got used to people reading my work.
    I can't really remember my parents' reaction when my first book was accepted and published (well, it was 40+ years ago!) but I don't recall any celebrations. I think they just took it for granetd - or maybe they were even embarrassed that I was writing for Mills and Boon! I do know that they didn't even tell their friends (I found that out years later!) and I doubt either of them ever read my books!

  3. I think I just have to learn to buck up. That's going to be my next turning point! And Paula, my parents and in-laws run around telling everyone they can about my books and trying to get people to read them--it's actually a little embarrassing.

  4. Better than no-one telling anyone about your books, Jen. Word-of-mouth is always the best promotion! Just wish I had someone telling everyone to read mine!

  5. I've gone through two of these, Jen. I'm published, but not in romance. I'm getting better at accepting praise, which was (is) very hard for me.
    I worried that my parents would freak at my love scenes, but I don't fret about that anymore.

  6. Just as an addendum, my early novels didn't have any love scenes per se, just very chaste kisses (which was all M&B/HQ allowed at the time - how times change!)so I didn't really have to think about my parents' raections (not that there were any anyway).
    I did however wonder what my daughters would think of the love scenes in my more recent novels! However, one daughter hasn't read any of my books, and the other hasn't batted an eyelid. I did however get some comments from a couple of friends on the lines of 'writing what you know' (with reference to my love scenes). To which my response always is, 'Imagination and fantasy - and anyway, writers of murder stories haven't actually committed murder in order to write their stories!'