JENN KELLY

the journey from writing a novel to ... what were we talking about again?

Tag: vulnerability (page 1 of 2)

Encouraging Authors and Writers

The forecast calls for 25 Celcius with sunshine.  I’m sitting at my desk in the library (ok, it’s an office, but library is so much more romantic sounding – even though it’s painted baby blue from when Jackson was a baby and I was kind enough to move into the sunshine-y yellow room that faces the backyard) and the skies are not filled with sunshine. They are a dark mysterious lavender that are turning the leaves a bright lime green.  It’s going to storm.

Sometimes when you wake up in the morning you bounce out of bed and think ‘this is going to be a gloooorious day!’. The sun is shining, your tea is hot and perfectly sweet and spicy, your favourite shirt just came out of the dryer and it’s the perfect cool weather for your slippers to snuggle into.  And some morning you don’t want to get up because you have too much to do or you have a meeting that you don’t want to attend or even see a friend you are unsure about.  Or you wake up and have no idea what the day will be like.

It’s the same with writing.

I’m not talking about good days of writing or bad days of writing, I’m talking about a writer’s heart. Do you know that it is really hard doing this? I can’t even imagine what really good/selling well/multi-millionaire writers feel.  Some days I feel terribly unimportant in the writing world. That no one could be bothered to be excited that my new book is coming out, which in turn, makes me feel apathetic about my new book coming out. And some days I get an encouraging email saying, ‘this is awesome’ or ‘I’m so glad you’ve written another’ and ‘you can do it!’  I feel like I can do anything. I can write anything. And it will be awesome. I am awesome.

So I’ve decided that once a week, I am going to do a few things.

1) I will write a letter to encourage an author. The book I am reading, if I am loving it, I will hunt down the author’s webpage and email them, telling them I love their book, to keep it up, to be patient with themselves and kind to themselves as they write.

2) I am going to write a letter to a friend or a new friend or someone I just kinda know. I used to write encouraging letters all the time and I think I stopped because people stopped noticing. No thank you, no ‘wow I felt so awesome getting that in the mail!’.  And the purpose isn’t so I’d feel good, but so that they’d feel good. I need to start doing that again.

3) I’m stuck here. There needs to be a number three and I’m drawing a blank. Hm.  I’ll think of something.

 

And I will totally post the radio interview once I get it in my computer email. And figure out how.

 

Reading: Eden.  A 99cent buy on Kindle. Not bad.

Watching: He’s just not that into you.  I love stories where everyone’s lives connect somehow. Like Love Actually and Valentine’s Day.

Drinking: saigon chai tea!

Listening to: dogs barking.

Up and Down

For the record? There is a lot I don’t know. Still.

I’m terribly flattered but get worried when people ask me to look at their work. Sure, I’ll look, but it doesn’t mean I have an educated opinion. Nor does it mean that if I like it, it’ll get published. And in case you were wondering, there is an unwritten rule that authors do not pass on manuscripts to their own agents or publishers.  Why? Two reasons I think. And I could be wrong. Because no one told me the answers.

1) authors work their darndest (is that a word?) to get published on their own. It is not easy. You get a lot of rejections and it hurts. It’s tough work and definitely worth the effort. It makes you stronger and gives you thicker skin. Why would you want to let someone else have the easy road? Maybe it is the green-eyed monster, but you fought tooth and nail to get published. So should everyone else.

2) the green-eyed monster.  Oh yes.  See, authors are supposed to be encouraging each other, but it is so hard! Because you look at your own book and think quietly to yourself: why didn’t I get more publicity? Why aren’t my books doing as well? Why didn’t I get another advance for a sequel? It’s hard! It’s rare to get encouragement on your own book (encouragement you can actually believe: I don’t know how many people tell me they are so excited for me and oh, no, I haven’t read your book yet… ouch.) so when you hear people ooh and aah over someone else’s book, it makes you nervous. Add when your own agent goes on and on about someone else’s book that they represent. Ouch. So you swallow thickly, possible inhale a chocolate bar and lift your chin higher.  If a friend of yours writes an amazing book … deep down you don’t want them published. Because what if they do better than you? See how awful and shallow this is?  I will freely reveal my own ugliness when a friend of mine released a CD. I was very green-eyed monster about it because yes, my book was coming out next year and yes, we aren’t even in the same genre for goodness sakes, but I was jealous! Isn’t that awful? So I made sure to make myself talk about how awesome she is and made sure to do my part during her CD launch party. I was so proud of her, so so proud of her, I mean, she’s brilliant! But deep down … I wanted encouragement of my own.  Wow. Do I look shallow. Let me be the first to admit my own shallowness … at times.

(Ok, I need to change the station. I do not want to listen to Charlie Sheen’s interview. Honestly CBC?)

Ok, this wasn’t the point of my post. The thing is, I got my royalty statement yesterday. This is the piece of paper that tells you how your book is doing. How many copies were sold in the States (because I have an American publisher), how many exported (ie Canada), how many e-books and how many ‘special deals’ (I have no idea what that means, incidentally). 

It wasn’t great. I did sell well, however, there were some returns. So let’s say I sold 2,000 books in the states (I wish!), it would say, I sold 2,000. And then right beside that, would be the (400) returns, meaning I actually only sold 1,600 books.  Except I think that I should be looking at last quarters’ sales for the returns. I think.  Anyways, for some reason I sold 3x the amount in Canada then in the U.S. (how is that even possible?). And it wasn’t a lot. I mean, it’s a lot-ish, but not what I was hoping. So it made me worry about whether the second book would still be coming out, if I’d ever get to write a third, if I was crap … stuff like that. These are things writers worry about. Incessantly.

So what did I do?

I ate two pieces of Toblerone.  And then gave it to God.

Honestly? I wrote the book because I was led to write it. It’s up to Him as to whether it does well or not.  Aaaaaaaand, as if I need to remind myself, I got to go to Paris. That was my goal. Tick, tick. Book published, Paris visited.

And I firmly reprimand myself to work on adult fiction now. NOW! Seriously, get on it!

And the good news?

I got to see the cover of Book 2. And I have no idea why the title won’t come up….

 

 Listening to: the bathtub and my child making fart noises

Drinking: market spice tea with Splenda. I know.

Watching: Glee. Fully addicted.

Reading: Armageddon

Sometimes I’m Not Very Brave

Sometimes I have to tell myself to be brave.

Not very often, but it happens. And when it does happen, I look at myself and think, “I’m not brave at all”. It doesn’t matter what I have done or have accomplished, because when I look at myself I think, “that’s not me”.

I’m not feeling terribly brave today.

Or yesterday.

Or the day before that.

I’m feeling … like I’m done. Writing I mean. 

As a writer, you are encouraged to encourage other writers. It’s a very difficult field and when someone wins or someone gets another contract or someone writes something so amazing you shake your head and wonder what the hell you’re doing being published … it’s very difficult.  You need to encourage them. It’s not a competition.  And yet … sometimes when you’re not feeling very brave, you feel unimportant. And I think what’s worse is, as a writer, I think we are all moody. I think you need to have that trait to write well. You have to be able to think you’re amazing with one breath and in the next, think you suck.  Maybe to make you try harder? Maybe to make you dig down deep, down right into your toes and push it all out with the force of childbirth? And then when it’s born, you’re so pleased. So happy for yourself. So happy with what you created. But the process …

I find that writing magazines are somewhat helpful. They tell you how to find your creativity, how to market, what not to do, blah blah. But what about the magazine that tells you that you don’t suck? That tells you that it understands, that it knows it’s so hard?  Where’s that magazine?

I know a lot of people don’t read this website blog. And that’s ok. Friends do and that’s terribly supportive. I try not to feel crushed as my comments have reached only 41 and my spam comments are in the 800’s.  I don’t have a huge following. And that’s ok. No feeling sorry for me.

But what I want to say is, if you, sweet person who stopped by to say hello, or just to peek at who I am, if you happen to be a writer, I have this to say:

You can do it.

You can reach down deep and stir it up and pull it out.

You may be crying with frustration and sadness and fears because you can’t get an idea, your plot isn’t working, your characters are boring, you can’t find a simile for “said” without being pretentious. 

You may be neurotically tracing your sales and getting more depressed because the numbers go down weekly and you wonder when your book will be found in the bargain bin.

You wonder if you’ll ever get another contract because while the first book may be doing well, it is a cut-throat business and you, my dear writer friend, are worried you’ll never write again.

It’s ok.

Sometimes you don’t have to be brave. Sometimes you can feel sorry for yourself. But don’t let it linger too long. Because you have to remember:

You did it.

You are writing.

You have what it takes.

You can work harder.

The house will get clean later, the dog will be fed, the child will bathe at some point.

You will not feel guilty when wonderful hubby cleans the bathrooms and makes a burnt dinner because you didn’t have time.

And remember that you can’t be confident in your abilities, because God made it all happen, not you. And if He wants you to keep writing, you will. Let Him use you.

 

You will believe in you again.

I promise.

 

Sometimes I need to read my own words more often….

Eating: earl gray tea. sadly, it’s cold.

Watching: Despicable Me (for the third time in three days)

Listening to: the child cough. oh he’s so sick.

Reading: Matched by someone on my Kindle. May buy it.

Being Brave

I’ve already mentionned that I’m looking for an agent. I gave myself until January 1 to do it. Which meant hunkering down and ignoring the call of the wii, the walks outside and the movies on tv to read my literary agent book and hi-light what looks good.  Now I’m researching them on the web.  And today I searched a few and then had a moment of boldness.

I had met an agent at the Word Guild Writer’s Conference in Guelph back in 2009. Or maybe it was 2008. Oh I hope it was 2009 or I look like a bum.   Anyway, let’s call him Fred. Fred and I hit it off really well and he gave a talk on platform. Which was fascinating, but scary.  I pitched him and he told me to contact him. I did and he turned me down. Rejection #43.  And I let him go.

As I’m going through the agents that have already rejected me, I have to pause.  Which ones should I bother trying to contact again?  The ones who never responded? The ones who actually sent me a personal rejection? The ones where they had their assistant do it? (Last one would be a ‘no’.)  There’s the pride factor of being all, ‘well, you rejected me and look how famous I’m gonna be and your boss is gonna be peeved at you’. Which of course is never a healthy way to be, although for the ‘what-if’ game, it’s fun for ten minutes.  Then there’s the ‘am I good enough now?’ thought.   And there’s the ‘I don’t want to pay an agent if I’m already in!’ thought.

It’s terribly confusing.

And makes me stare off into space quite frequently.

Which is lots of fun. But I have no time to do that. I have to find an agent.

Watching: Cars

Listening to: Pachelbel Canon (the gaffer listens to it while he sleeps. has since he was a baby. am going to play it at his wedding to see if he falls asleep. also have baby video of very large poop mess he made to shame him at wedding also)

Eating: salad with pecans

Reading: Narnia. Harry Potter. Demons and Angels. Depends what room I’m in.

Book Review Of Jackson Jones

Most words taken from ‘Quill and Quire’ Canada’s magazine of book news and reviews November 2010 by Laura Godrey. I didn’t put all of them (description of book) as I don’t want to get smashed for plagerizing. Or whatever. Can I rewrite reviews? I have no idea. I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough.

“This adventurous debut from Ottawa author Jenn Kelly has a perfectly silly spirit that helps put across the admirable lesson learned by its young protagonist blah blah. Blah blah. Blah blah.

Although it’s a joy to hear young Jackson mention the authors he admires and to see him take a literal and metaphorical leap of faith to protect his new friend, the problem is that our young hero is given relatively little external conflict to match the internal conflict he faces. The book has no villain and no ultimate goal for him to accomplish.  The people hemeets teach him important lessons about faith and love, but the book lacks suspense and danger that would make the payoff more rewarding.  Despite its shortcomings, and a set of lacklustre illustrations, it still offers a worthy tale about a boy who learns how to believe in himself. The author’s self-referential, outgoing sense of humour will also appeal to young readers, many of whom will see themselves in Jackson.”

You know, when you read a review, you want to defend yourself. But then that would be defensive.  Or catty. Or complaining. Or whatever.

I just want to say thank you to Laura for the awesome review.

And that ‘Alice in Wonderland’, ‘Anne of Green Gables’, ‘The Secret Garden’, ‘The Black Stallion’, “Little House on the Prairie’ etc did not have villains. Or goals.

I’m just saying.

Eating: shake

Reading: My Life in France by Julia Child (I love food)

Watching: nothing

Listening to: quiet.

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