Encouraging Words

9 Nov

IMG_4512I’m almost done and I’m scared—terrified is more like it. When I first started writing my novel over three years ago, I didn’t believe I’d even complete a few measly chapters, let alone finish the damn thing. I now realize that I should’ve never told anyone in the first place. Now that I’m on the last chapter, people are going to want to read it.

Oh, god—what have I done?

Thanks to self-publishing, there’s a plethora of good writers out there who are getting their work read. On the other hand, there are also a lot of bad writers who publish as well. I follow a few Twitter sites that promote self-published novels and sometimes I’ll click on a link to see what’s out there. Sometimes I cringe at what I read—much of it is downright awful. I find myself hopping up on my literary pedestal and turning into this judgmental critic who actually takes delight in finding poorly written sentences, bad grammar and trite dialogue.

I’m better than that—right?

Deep down I know that I’m a decent writer and editor. What I don’t know yet is if I can tell a story well enough to connect with a reader and to keep them interested in the characters and the plot. I also know that like most writers, that lurking self-doubt leads me down that road of wanting to do anything but finish what I started.

Lucky for me, I’ve surrounded myself with those who believe in me. My family, my friends, my beloved writing group. The other day out of the blue, a member of my writing group sent me a text. He’s been a dear friend since high school and although we lost touch for close to thirty years, we’ve re-connected over the past three and our friendship has blossomed. At our last group meeting, I expressed to my fellow members that I was feeling a bit blue about finishing my novel and how much work I was facing in the coming months to get it ready. This is what he wrote to me:

Hey there. I just wanted to say that I’m so, so proud of you for what you have accomplished in getting your novel written. It’s a huge and massive undertaking and you’re nearly there and ready for rewrites. The percentage of people who never finish that novel (myself included) is so high as to easily discourage first timers. But you have done it, Jessie. I know there may be a little energy sag now or soon, but never stop appreciating and applauding what you have done here. It’s really quite something and I hope you will give yourself more pats on the back than disparaging remarks. There is more work to do, of course, but it’s clearly a labor of love. Please don’t forget that as you move into this next stage, you have done a wonderful and extraordinary thing. Don’t forget to appreciate yourself with as much love and consideration that you offer others. I’m proud you’re my friend and I’ve had the privilege of watching this creation from the front row!

He didn’t have to take the time to text that to me, but because of his generous spirit, he did. And with those encouraging sentences, his words managed to lift me up out of that mire of self-doubt and fear.

At least for today.

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21 Responses to “Encouraging Words”

  1. Becky Green Aaronson November 9, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

    I’m so excited for you Jessica! And I LOVE your friend. His words are spot on! Keep strong and carry on…you are going to finish!!!

  2. Leah November 9, 2015 at 2:28 pm #

    Mom, you are incredible. I am so excited for the world to hear your words, to hear your VOICE, the voice that has shaped me into the woman I am today! Your novel is so much more than a story, and you are so much more than just a decent writer. You are a novelist. You are gifted. And you are loved!!

  3. Sabrina November 9, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

    Very exciting, Jessica! I cannot wait to read your novel!

    Congratulations!

    Sabrina

  4. Liz November 9, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

    Jessica, I can’t wait to read your novel, and I’d be happy to be an early test reader if that would help. Your friend is definitely spot on. Congratulations, you are close to the finish line and you WILL DO THIS! Brava!!

    • Allegro non tanto November 9, 2015 at 7:50 pm #

      I would love for you to be an early reader. I think I can count on you to tell me the truth!

  5. Mele November 9, 2015 at 3:09 pm #

    Congrats Jess!! Such a huge accomplishment to have finished it! I cannot wait to read it. Love you

  6. Hildegard November 9, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

    Congratulations! It IS an outstanding accomplishment to get this far! Your friend’s comments are gold. Thanks for letting us in on this uplifting, inspiring step in your life! 🙂 Best wishes!

  7. babymook November 9, 2015 at 7:05 pm #

    When I finished my first novel (a load of crap, no, really, I didn’t even know how to write), I felt like someone had died. Not only that but I was beset with anxiety. Normal? I believe so, because the same thing happened with the next two books (especially my memoir). This is your baby and it’s time to give birth, frightening and exhilarating all at the same time, well, maybe more frightening. Like someone told me, whatever happens, be proud that you completed an entire book (and from what I’ve read of your other writings, a damn good one). It is only up from here on. Well, except for all the crap it takes to present your baby to the world. (And yes, very discouraging to see some of the self-published crap out there.) We need to confer on your journey from here on. Unless I find a publisher for Monkey’s Wedding (it’s at the editors right now), I’m going to join you and self publish. I can’t wait to read your book.

    • Allegro non tanto November 9, 2015 at 7:48 pm #

      It’s a long road ahead, I’m afraid. These days, just writing the darn book isn’t enough–now you have to find your audience and market it yourself. I’m sure I’ll be conferring with you quite a bit in the near future! xxoo

  8. Eleanor Winters November 9, 2015 at 7:55 pm #

    I may have been a tiger mom (your words) about the piano thing, but you have done all this on your own. I with all the others that advise: bless yourself for such an accomplishment!!

    • Allegro non tanto November 10, 2015 at 10:23 am #

      Thanks, Tiger Mama. I’ll try to bless myself more often.

  9. mickg2013 November 10, 2015 at 6:59 am #

    Your friend sounds like a lovely person, but it also sounds as if you have an inspiring piece of literature as well. I’m guessing you have offered equally inspiring words of encouragement to others in and out of that group, not the least of which is your family. Can’t wait to read the finished product whenever that’s ready. 🙂

  10. Allegro non tanto November 10, 2015 at 10:24 am #

    My friend is a lovely person. And I will continue to support him in all of his literary endeavors as well!

  11. dmensign2015 November 10, 2015 at 10:43 am #

    Didn’t know this about you, but I’m not surprised. I remember attending a couple of your piano recitals when we were MUCH younger and being very impressed by your talent. One thing I do know about you is you have lived a life (with lots more to come!) and that lends itself to great literature in the right hands. You are an artist and I have no doubt that your passion and ability will shine in this new form of expression. Congratulations and best of luck with your next chapter.

    • Allegro non tanto November 10, 2015 at 11:44 am #

      Thanks, Mike. I’d forgotten that you came to hear me play all those years ago! So glad we’ve run into each other around town over the years. It’s so wonderful to keep up with you and your beautiful family on Facebook, too.

  12. debatterman November 11, 2015 at 6:42 am #

    Here’s what sometimes happens to me when I’m writing– If I find myself curious enough to know what happens next, it keeps me going. And I take it as a sign that maybe, just maybe, if that curiosity gets me writing more of the story, readers will be curious, too. More important, the compulsion that keeps you going — through all the stuff of life — speaks worlds about you. As does the company a writer keeps 😉

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