Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Quitting Is Not An Option by Betty Thomason Owens

Up one day, down the next. A good review? You’re on cloud nine. One star and a reader’s derision? You’re curled up in a fetal position, seeking solace. Such is the writer’s life.

Whether you’re looking for reviews of a newly released novel, waiting for a critique to come back, or a return email from your editor—you’re on tenterhooks! On tenterhooks: phrase meaning one is in a state of uneasy suspense or painful anxiety. That describes it pretty well, doesn’t it?

I remember my first critiques, not long after I joined ACFW and ventured onto “Scribes,” their main critique loop. I went through numerous emotions as I peered at the computer screen with all that red stuff and all those comment bubbles. I cried. I ranted. I raved.

Who is this person, anyway? What does she know about writing? Then my questions changed. Who do I think I am, and what do I know about writing? Am I really this bad a writer? Maybe…I should quit.

Sound familiar? At this point, a writer really needs someone to hold their hand. They need a mentor, or a friend who is also a writer, one who understands the ups and downs of the craft. Whether you meet them at a coffee shop, chat on Facebook, phone, or via email, this person can help you navigate the writer’s life. Remember, though—it’s a system of give and take. If you expect them to encourage you when you’re down, you should be willing to return the favor when they’re having a tough time.

Quitting is not an option. If you’re called to write, you have to write. You can’t quit. So get over it. Close that awful critique for a while. Don’t come back to it until you’re ready. How will you know when you’re ready? When you start thinking, “Hmmm…maybe she was right. Maybe that sentence is confusing.” Or, you realize if a couple of your critique partners found a passage unclear, or a plotline unbelievable, it probably is. This is when you’re ready. Now open the file, and start at the beginning. Work your way through, make your changes—one at a time. Think each one through. Do more research if necessary, to smooth your point of view or plot point.

Perfect your work, then resubmit it to your critique group. Don’t be dismayed if it comes back again, all marked up. Remain teachable. It’s a little like playing guitar. When you start out, your fingertips will scream at you. But as you practice, you’ll form callouses. The skin thickens. This protects your fingers from the wear and tear of the strings. Regular critiques will build your confidence. You don’t want to be calloused, but you will develop the ability to take criticism and deal with it properly. Believe it or not, you’ll survive the learning process. Soon, those chapters will come back with fewer red marks, and the comment balloons will be filled with praise of your writing.

Now, about those reviews…

Have you had to deal with the thought quitting? What made you persevere?


Betty Thomason Owens is a multi-published, award-winning author of historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group, and serves as vice-president/secretary of the Louisville area group. She’s a mentor, assisting other writers, and a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers. She also serves on the planning committee of the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference.

Her writing credits include a 20’s era romance, Amelia's Legacy (2014), Carlotta’s Legacy (2016) Books 1 & 2, Legacy Series from Write Integrity Press (WIP), and the Grace-Award-winning Annabelle’s Ruth (2015), and Sutter’s Landing (2017), Books 1 & 2, Kinsman Redeemer Series, also from WIP. She has two fantasy-adventure novels, The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM.

Sutter’s Landing
Still reeling from tragic losses, Connie and Annabelle Cross face life with their signature humor and grace, until fresh hope arrives on their doorstep.

In early spring of 1955, Annabelle Cross and her daughter-in-law, Connie have nearly made it through the first winter on their own. Then the skies open up as West Tennessee and much of the south endures one of the worst floods in history. As many of their neighbors endure losses due to the flooding, Annabelle and Connie sit tight on dry ground.

As spring gives way to summer, Annabelle begins to dread Connie’s upcoming marriage and removal to Sutter’s Landing. Though she’s happy to note the growing affection between Alton Wade and her daughter-in-law, their marriage means Annabelle will be on her own for the first time in her life.

Connie’s doubts increase when Alton’s bigoted brother Jensen uses every opportunity to drive a wedge between them. Is she doing the right thing? Did she move too quickly? Unexpected summer visitors and anticipation of a new neighbor provide diversion and open possibilities for both Annabelle and Connie.