Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Do You Love Your Book?

Do you love your book? I wrote ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS very quickly, in about three months. I knew the characters, I knew the plot, and I sat down and just wrote. And wrote, and wrote. When I thought it ready for someone to read, I entered the first chapter in a contest. Although I did not place, I did receive nice compliments…except for a few negative comments. “The opening needs to be deleted. Have Cynthia and Ricardo meet in the first paragraph.” “Under no circumstances have Cynthia musing to herself.” “POV is all over the place. Clean that up, and you might, just might, mind you, have something to work with.”
Suddenly, I wondered if my story was as good as I thought. In reality, I became insignificant as a writer, and I wondered if I was good enough to continue. I was afraid to ask anyone read it, as I had all my other rambling stories. But…I loved my story. I could see it in book form.
I loved my book, whether anyone else did or not.

Did your mother ever say to you, “You’d better change your attitude, young lady!”
Ohhh, mine did, especially during my teen years.
Usually, I obeyed relatively well, and life generally ran smoothly in the Davis household.
Sometimes, when she asked me to do something difficult, I might reply with a dramatic whine, “I caaan’t!” Her answer? “Can’t never did anything.”
A good attitude shows our positive side. As an author or writer, “attitude is everything.”

Do you love your book? Do you believe in it, even if an editor or publisher doesn’t? Does a rejection letter seem personal, as if the words on the page describe you? “Sorry, not good enough.”(Interpretation: Sorry, you’re not good enough.) “We like your book, but we don’t love it.” (Interpretation: We don’t love you.) “Your manuscript might be good, if you re-write the entire 300 pages. Make your hero the villain, kill off your heroine, because she’s not worth the paper she’s written on, and while you’re at it, think up a new plot.” Ugh, you say, this goes in the trash.
However, if you write a story that contains three key elements—urgency, intensity, and drama—soon you will sell your book to an editor.

I grew up as the middle sister. Daddy wanted us three girls to look pretty every day. He’d tell Mother to curl our hair, buy new dresses (she made all of them), and tell us to “act pretty.” Since he told us every day we were pretty, I believed it, and although I was shy, I still thought well of myself. I had confidence even as a child.
Confidence is Job Number One for success in the writing business. It means you are a good writer, and you feel competent. You take pride in each accomplishment. If you keep this attitude about yourself, soon you’re willing to take scary risks to reach beyond who you are now. Confidence is acting that way, even when you are not.
Keep telling yourself, “I’m good, and my book is, too.”



  1. You make some wonderful points, Celia. My book took years to write and almost as long to find a publishing home. Two months after I had the paperback in my hands, the publisher folded and I had to go through the query process all over again. Months passed before I found another publisher, who released it as an e-book. Still,one less than stellar review can set my mood plunging. (Fortunately, most reviews are stellar.) Your story is your baby, and if you don't believe in it, who will? Keep writing, accept the advice that makes sense to you, and ignore what doesn't sound right. You're good, and your book is, too!

  2. Hey Celia!
    How are you? (Ellen waves wildly from WV) I love what you said about confidence. It's absolutely true---if you have confidence there is nothing you can't do. I've also found that, after years of practice, it's all a matter of acting like *it* even if you don't *feel like it*

  3. I'm easily intimidated by other writers. I'll receive wonderful comments about my writing and then read another author's work and think to myself, I can't write like that. I'm told no one wants westerns and I have a stack of rejections from NY agents and editors. I argue with myself everyday to keep writing, because I can't not write.

  4. Celia, I love your attitude about writing and life. I think your style speaks volumes about the kind of person you are. Hats off to a special lady!

  5. Thank you, Maggie, Kathy,Ellen, and Pat--I try to remember this is no a life-and-death situation. It it was, I wouldn't do it. Life is filled with enough of those, as it is. If it isn't fun, I won't do it! Celia

  6. Celia,
    Very well said. I believe this same way. In my classes, I see a lot of students who are overly concerned that "someone might steal my idea." I have a really hard time not rolling my eyes, and going, "PLEASE!" If you don't love your idea, you are not going to see it through to the end. And we all know there is no way to "half" write a book. So you either finish it or you give up. And to spend as much time on it as we do, we need to LOVE it.

  7. I hate to say it, but all those "advice points" you mention are worse than day old bread. I'm sorry you ever had to deal with that.

    The first paragraph? Good grief! Hogwash.

    My mentor is always on my hiney about having faith in my work, so you're not alone. I love my books. All of them. Some are just harder than others, but none are less rewarding.

  8. Oh,Diana, thank you. Hogwash--I'll have to remember that very expressive phrase! I might use it sometime in reply to something that's well, hogwash!! See ya later--Celia

  9. You touched upon a place where I think we all have been. And what we learn is if you don't believe in yourself no on else will. So hold that head up and know there are people out there who will get it, and love your book. It just takes time and perseverance.

  10. Great blog - and AMEN on perseverance. I wrote a similar blog last week about being completely ready to quit! Then, in stepped God's timing and progress - and at long last, publication. Congrats on your succes - gorgeous cover on All My Hopes & Dreams, too! :-)

  11. Hi, Celia,

    I submitted my last release to a publisher who told me it was technically correct but it left her cold. After an evening's self-doubt I submitted it to publisher number two who told me that it was a great book with wonderful dialog. Yeah, you have to have confidence in yourself and your work.

  12. Celia - you are an angel on this earth. What a great post! I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to link to it from my Temecula Writer's Group. Everyone needs to hear this. Confidence, the ability to find the strawberry in a field of criticism, all of that is of utmost importance if we are to ever see our goals through to fruition.

    Your bit about your dad helping you believe in yourself choked me up as a mom of two little girls.

    Love your blog -- thanks for sharing! from one historical western author to another! :)


  13. Wonderful post, Celia. I wrote MHWFY in about three months too. The characters spoke to me and the words came so easily. I love my story and am sensitive to criticism, but I think with time we've learned how to deal with it because we're secure in our faith in what we write.

  14. All good points, and I think we've all bee through similar experiences. I think a good book is essential but an element of luck doesn't hurt. Finding the right editor was essential for me....Jean

  15. Hi Celia,
    You have raised excellent points. You have to be passioante about your book, that way you can take all the rejections, bad critiques etc and turn them into positives.
    After all, if you don't love "your baby" who else will?

  16. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

    I always love my books until the moment after I've sent them off. Then, suddenly, I'm convinced my writing is a bunch of #@$%!.


  17. Whenever we said we couldn't do something, my mom would say one of two things: "Can't never did nothing until she tried" (or "he tried" if she was talking to my brother) or, "You're an American, not an American't." :D