by Michelle Graham
Like many writers, I tend to have a combination of extreme arrogance and harsh self-criticism. It may not seem like these two things can go together, but they frequently do. In my case, the self-criticism is usually the more dominant part of me. I am riddled by feelings of doubt and inadequacy. There are lots of writers out there who are better than me, who manage time and produce more than I do, who sell more books, write more blog posts, and on and on and on. When I sat down to write my first book, the process was filled with moments of second-guessing myself and thinking that I was wasting my time.
So when a publisher actually told me they were going to publish my book, my ego inflated like a balloon on a helium tank, and floated up into the sky. It was helped along by addition of more publishing contracts and more books released. The only problem with that? The helium leaked out and sent me plummeting to the ground.
All of my books so far have been erotic romance, which I really enjoy. ;) But I decided to take a chance and submit a novel in another genre to a different publisher. And I got a rejection, but that didn’t really phase me. It was one of the bigger companies and I fully expected it. So I submitted to someone else, and was thrilled to get another contract.
I’ve been anxiously awaiting the edits for this book, and in the meantime have spread the word far and wide that I’m going to have a book published (it’s mainstream so no need to hide behind a pen name on that one). And the arrogance took over and I was convinced I was hot shit.
Then the edits arrived. Talk about bursting my balloon.
I know an editor’s job is to take a book and make it the best it can be. I’ve been through the process before, but it’s never been that big a deal. I know they have to point out the flaws in order to make it better. Unfortunately, this one tackled me from behind and pushed my face into a sea of criticism. And most of it was extraordinarily harsh (for example, “This is dull and uninteresting.” That comment came up a lot). The book was so bad that it needed to be “ripped down and rewritten”.
Needless to say, I spent the evening curled in the fetal position, sobbing and feeling like I’d been dropped from a building. My arrogance disappeared in a flash, my confidence shaken so badly, that every time an idea came to me, I was immediately questioning it’s validity and viability.
Thankfully, I had the support of some wonderful people (my hubby and my Siren sisters), and I was able to pick myself up again. Slowly. But I’m getting there. With the help of a few good suggestions from the publisher, and a bunch of scribbles in a notebook, I managed to work out a new plan for the rewrites. I’ve made huge strides with it over the past few days, and no longer feel like crawling behind the couch and hiding for days.
I’ve learned a couple of lessons. The first is that it’s important to keep the balance between the arrogance and the self-criticism. I’m not hot shit, or the next mega-bestseller. But my ideas have worth, and if I take the time and the effort to get them down on paper, someone will want to read them. I have enough publishing contracts to prove that, even if I’m not making millions. The second lesson is that there will always be critics, people who will make you feel more worthless than a bag of doggy doo. But if you let them get to you, and give up, you’re giving them power they don’t deserve. If they knock you down, get the hell up! Put on your big girl panties and prove them wrong. It will take persistence and dedication, and it’ll be a lot of frickin’ work.
Michelle Graham is an erotic romance writer for Siren Publishing. She lives in Ontario, Canada with her hubby, two kids, and a kitty. She enjoys doing research for her books (as does her hubby), and getting paid to have a dirty mind, and hopes one day to write about naughty things full time.
Where to find Michelle
Unemployed and running out of resources, Sophie LaPlante is desperate for a job, when the perfect one appears before her. A wealthy couple from Hedon Falls requires a live-in housekeeper, and Sophie is just what they’re looking for.
Jack Sullivan, a powerful CEO and Dom, is married to actress Kendra Hughes. He immediately senses submissive tendencies in his new housekeeper. His wife can never be the sub he needs, so while Kendra is away on a film shoot, he begins to train Sophie. When Kendra returns, she joins the training to explore her own Dominant desires. While their sessions were not intended to involve sex, they find themselves fighting a losing battle against their mutual attraction.
The three of them are caught up in a web of lust, guilt, and infidelity, all complicated by an ex-boyfriend who can’t leave Sophie alone.
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