Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Tips from an Overrated, Talentless Author by Bethany Turner

I am my least favorite writer. I really am. I’m completely overrated. (Note: I’m not even all that highly rated, but that’s not the point. If anyone likes me, they really shouldn’t.) I don’t understand what my publisher was thinking when they offered me a contract. And do you want to know what else? I’m working on a romantic comedy manuscript right now that is about as romantic and comedic as my son’s Algebra 2 homework. (Note: I stopped being able to help my children with their math somewhere around the time we took the training wheels off their bikes.)

Now, Wooing Cadie McCaffrey? The one that comes out on May 21st? Well…that one is a different story entirely. That book was a stroke of genius. I’m not sure what happened when I was writing that one, but every single word is gold.

But yeah…this new book I’m working on? Don’t get your hopes up, people. I stink. Seriously. I’m the worst. And I’ve been sure to tell that to as many people as possible recently. I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe I just want to prepare them and make sure expectations are kept in check. Everyone has been saying nice things, of course. “I’m sure it’s better than you think,” and stuff like that. But I’m quick to assure them that it is not, in fact, better than I think. It is exactly as awful as I think it is.

The thing is, I’m surrounded by people who are on the journey with me. Legitimately on the journey. They’ve been there with me through the ups and downs of writing and publishing, not to mention…life. And these people usually laugh at me when I say things like, “Whatever minuscule amount of talent I’ve ever had has been lost!” (Note: I say that every bit as dramatically as those words should be said.) Yeah. They laugh at me. (Note: I do mean at me. In such moments, I am never laughing.)

They laugh because they’ve heard it all before. Of course, I never remember that I said it before, because I’m living in the afterglow. I’m convinced that I always loved Wooing Cadie McCaffrey, and that from the very beginning I knew it was the best thing I’d ever written. I’m not thinking about my editor’s text message that said, “I’ll be honest…we have a lot of work to do.” I’m not thinking about how much I cried when the first round of edits required me to scrap a quarter of the manuscript. And I’m certainly not thinking about all the times I said, “The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck was a fluke, and the only decent novel I’ll ever write.”

So, writers…hang in there. Stick with it. Trust the process. Thank the Lord for editors. And surround yourself with people who will laugh at you. (Note: Somewhere between brilliance and stinkiness, you may even be able to laugh along.)

...surround yourself with people who will laugh at you. via @SeeBethanyWrite #SeriouslyWrite #writingtips

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Bethany Turner is the award-winning author of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, which was a finalist for The Christy Award. When she’s not writing (and even when she is), she serves as the director of administration for Rock Springs Church in Southwest Colorado. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Colorado, where she writes for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight.

For more, visit www.seebethanywrite.com.

9 comments:

  1. Good morning Bethany! I loved, loved, loved The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck! I'm super excited to read your latest when it releases. I hope you're working on a story for Piper.

    Now that my fan girl moment is over: Thank you for the candid post. I know I've definitely felt like I'd never write anything decent again.

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  2. Oh my, I cringed just reading that text. And yet it goes to show that the work is worthwhile, doesn't it? That our work doesn't stink (permanently, anyway) until we give up on improving it.

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  3. I absolutely love your sense of humor and your honesty! I totally get the insecurities, and I really understand the whole "Algebra 2 there is no way I could ever help you children" sing. They don't even ask me for help anymore on that. The brainstorming about dragons and character motivation! Well, that's a different story :-)

    so excited for you and all the wonderful stories you have shared and will share!

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  4. I was here Bethany. 🙂 I'm not a writer but a reader and I do enjoy reading your words. I"m really looking forward to 'Wooing' arriving in my mailbox!

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  5. I often laugh at inappropriate times (i.e. after receiving bad news), and in those times I like to say, "It's either laugh or cry, and I choose to laugh." So I love your parting line: Somewhere between brilliance and stinkiness, you may even be able to laugh along. I think laughter is the key to surviving the writer's life, and I love your post (it made me laugh!). In fact, I think I'll go read some of my WIP and laugh about how bad it is right now!

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  6. Hello, Bethany! Thank you for this post! I can completely relate, having felt the same way about my own writing more times than I can count! 🙂
    Thank you so much for always sticking with it and sharing your heart with us through your books, they truly are amazing and I have no doubt the next one will be too! 😊💕

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  7. Bethany, my neighbor down the highway and over a mountain, good to see you on Seriously Write! Don't you love/hate this imposter syndrome problem?

    When reading the words I've written, I regularly ask myself, "Why I'm doing this?" Fortunately, I'll get the occasional encouraging feedback, so I continue on.

    Thanks for your views on this problem....from the vantage point of an award-winning author! You provide hope. I'm looking forward to your upcoming release. Blessings!

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  8. For a "talentless" author you sure have seen success :) Thanks for sharing this, particularly that stinging text message. The end result was certainly worth the work you've put into it, Bethany

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