What I know for sure
By Misty Evans
Since the premiere issue of O Magazine, Oprah’s done a What I Know For Sure column on the last page. It’s usually the first thing I read in her magazine because it always gets me thinking about life and what I know for sure. As a writer and published author, I have my own list of What I Know For Sure and thought I’d share a few of them with you.
No matter how many successes we’ve experienced, fear of failure can stop us dead in our tracks.
I have over twenty stories published in four different series. Several have been on best seller lists, both the publisher’s and retailer’s sites. Currently, my latest hot romantic suspense, DEADLY PURSUIT, is on four Amazon bestseller lists. I’ve received dozens of good reviews and won several reader’s choice awards.
But every time I sit down to work on a manuscript, the Doubt Demons snuggle up beside me. They fill my head with negative thoughts. They freeze my fingers on the keyboard. “You need to do more research,” they say. “Your muse is burned out. Give her a rest.” They tempt me with distractions. “Why don’t you check email/Twitter/FaceBook? There’s a Falling Skies marathon on. You can write tomorrow.”
Fear is an ugly four-letter word. The Doubt Demons are, in essence, fear of failure, fear of rejection. Hard to face head-on, so I sneak around them to give myself courage to hit the keyboard. I light a candle, turn on some music, and dangle a piece of chocolate in front of my laptop. I talk back to the Doubt Demons. “This is the first draft and I don’t have anything to prove.”
What I know for sure is, Doubt Demons are going to haunt you at times. Face yours and watch their control disappear.
Being a successful is 10% inspiration and 90% determination.
I love my muse. She’s brilliant and wears fabulous shoes. However, she leaves me alone a lot, facing the Doubt Demons and the blank page on my lonesome. If I waited for her to show up in order to write, I’d still be working on my first story…the one I started in eighth grade.
But I’m determined, if not brave. I love to spin stories and I’m completely, 100% on board with becoming a life-long, professional author. Goals and dreams are written in my journal and I’m petal-to-the-metal, balls to the wall, going after every single one of them.
One caveat to this What I Know For Sure is that, like Alice, once I fall down the rabbit’s hole and immerse myself in a story, my muse usually shows up in her fab shoes with a brilliant plot device or line of dialogue that I would never have thought of. She touches me with her sparkly, creative wand and, bam, the heavens open and words rain down.
What I know for sure is that when you think you most need the muse (or more time, money, or energy) to appear is that’s the time you most need to get to work. Don’t wait for her to guide you. Put on your own pair of fabulous shoes and start walking. Before you know it, she’ll be skipping along at your side.
“No” doesn’t mean “never”. It just means “not right now”.
Remember that old saying about the only two sure things in life are death and taxes? Well, I’d like to add one more. Rejection. No matter who you are or what you do, rejection is part of life.
As a writer who’s lived through countless rejections, I can tell you they will not kill you, and to use another saying, they will make you stronger…IF you think of them as a tool and not a personal attack.
I hit the USA TODAY bestseller list with a book one of my agents tore to pieces with a three-page email of all the things wrong with it. The book currently on those four Amazon bestseller lists? I was told by another agent it had too many dead bodies and not enough romance. Each of those books were in my “throw away” drawer. Each of those books has proven to be successful regardless.
When you get rejected, here’s what you do: First, let your ego have a meltdown for a few minutes or a few hours. Rejection sucks, plain and simple, and denying it will only offset the emotional flooding you’ll feel at some later, openly embarrassing point in your life (like your kid’s parent-teacher conference or in the Starbuck’s line when they run out of the mocha frappuccinos). Better to open the gates, get it all out, and move on ready to face your goals again.
Next, take steps to rebuild your self-confidence. Every small step, every goal you’ve achieved so far is an earned accomplishment. Every day of work you’ve finished, every project you’ve signed off on, every child you’ve raised, race you’ve participated in, song you’ve belted out in the shower. If you’re a writer, every sentence and every chapter is a hard-won masterpiece.
Keep a “pride” list or “success” list on display where you can read it every day. Fill it with the goals you’ve achieved and compliments you’ve received. Over time, those successes will far outweigh the failures.
Last, but not least, find the positive in the negative. When I say use rejection as a tool, I mean glean anything you can from it to make yourself a better person. Like author Suzanne Finnemore says, “Rejection can be like mulch: dirty, smelly, and essential to growth.”
Essential to growth. Rejections can give perspective and help overcome weaknesses. They can push you to up your determination and cull the crap.
And the next time around, you’ll be one step closer to a “yes”.
No one else can walk your journey for you.
Expressing yourself is a fundamental human experience. Be true to the small voice within and remember that you have two selves. Your inward self that remains untouched by the world, which is your soul, and your outward self, which is your personality. Respect, understand, and nurture both, and you’ll have the power to change lives. Including your own!
So tell me, what do you know for sure?
USA TODAY Bestselling Author Misty Evans writes the award-winning Super Agent series as well as urban fantasy and paranormal romance. She teaches writing workshops and offers writing services through her business, Strong Brew Coaching. She likes her coffee black, her conspiracy theories juicy, and her wicked characters dressed in couture. When her muse lets her on the internet to play, she’s on Facebook and Twitter. Read more about her stories at www.readmistyevans.com.