Sunday, January 29, 2012



What is so bloody terrifying about getting things wrong now and then? Or then and now? I mean, seldom is any one decision made that would result in the end of the world as we know it. Most mistakes are back-out-able.

It’s not like I’m looking at two buttons and one is nuclear annihilation and the other is lasagna instead of pizza…

Mistakes happen! All the bloody time! But nothing that will result in death, not by me.

Now, some people see mistakes as an opportunity to change things around.

Me? I see mistakes as those first steps on the road to oblivion. (But I’m working on that! As you’ll see by the end of this blog.)

Was it the kindergarten teacher who made me stand in a corner because I covered an eraser with Elmer’s glue? (No, I don’t know why I did this. I seem to remember thinking it was mad clever of me…) The sense of standing in that corner, face to the wall, sobbing in humiliation, is still with me.

Damn, I was a sensitive little thing.

Truth be told, I still am. Just a bit better at removing myself from the reach of teachers like that, who thrive on public humiliation as the answer to all bad decisions.

I recently finished a class on harvesting the prolific while dodging procrastination and fear. It was a good class. One of the lessons Hillary Rettig addressed was the issue of sensitivity and the importance not of being thicker skinned but of acknowledging my sensitivity and giving myself permission to be that way. (Convoluted enough for ya, there?) After all, the best writing is one where we feel the author truly dove into the depth of human emotions…


How does an author with a thick skin, forcibly applied in order to face a harsh world, going to go there? The point being that those of us who cry easy, who understand and face our fears while still scared shitless…we can reach those depths much easier than someone who does the stiff upper lip and convinces themselves they don’t care. Or that it doesn’t matter.

We care and it does matter. (Sometimes it doesn’t matter as much as we think it does, but it still matters.)

It also is incredibly frightening to live with that. But oddly empowering. I think empathy comes easier to the sensitive sorts.

But damn it. I do hate making mistakes and fear being called on them. I wish more teachers would encourage mistakes as learning opportunities!

Terrio has been so gracious to me, saying she wishes she could hit the emotional triggers I hit and her words fill me with appreciation for what I can do. (It also pissed me off, because she can do it, too!) But I thought of her words when Hillary wrote of not running from our sensitivity.

I recently completed the final read through of book three of the Kraken’s Caribbean, The Pirate Circus. (Out this Friday, btw.) Now, I have a real love/hate relationship with track changes in word. I adore how it can encourage learning how to edit and what to watch for and it can be so fast! I also loath how I’m never sure I’m doing it right.

I mean, I began my career as an author tangling with track changes to such an extent it took three editors at Decadent to figure out what I did.

When I screw up, I screw up good!

So, The Pirate Circus is my sixth book and I still dreaded opening that program and getting started. Because I knew I would make mistakes.

I also know, from my editors, that it’s okay and as long as I don’t manage to redo the first screw up, I’m fine…they can work it all out… (At this point, they could probably figure it out if I did do the multi-layering highlighting again.)

So, I pushed through this final edit. After nearly half a day of dithering away my time on e-mail, Facebook…blogging… Anything but having to open that program.

Fear, I won again and beat you! And hitting send was a great sensation.

But I’m sure I missed a few things. It’s inevitable. And maybe, someday, somewhere…a budding writer will be reading and grin at a mistake they notice. And feel emboldened that if the great Maureen O. Betita can screw it up and get better, so can she!

Silver lining, that’s me!

What mistakes do you see moving into the future and turning into someone else’s learning experience? If not your own? You able to push through that fear of mistake thing and move forward? What’s your secret? Are you sensitive? Or thick skinned? Or secretly sensitive despite the appearance of having a thick skin?



Quantum said...

We seem to be blessed with a surfeit of blogs today. After Chance's discussion of mistakes I'm assuming that Helli made a mistake so I'm going with Chance.

Though I could be wrong! :?

I remember Boris Becker being interviewed at the gates to Wimbledon after losing a match. The reporter wanted to know what went wrong and whether he could ever recover. Boris replied in his ussual phlegmatic laid back manner " I lost a tennis game today. It wasn't a war. No-body died out there!"

I think that sums it up nicely. Its all a matter of perspective.

AND its not just fiction authors who struggle with and curse Microsoft. :lol:

Marnee Bailey said...

Morning all!

Mistakes and fear. When it comes to my writing, I don't think it's fear of making mistakes for me, but fear of falling short. I'm afraid that no matter how hard I work, my story (any story I write) is going to never be as good as I hoped that it would.

Sometimes it paralyzes me. It's so tempting, when I feel like that, to just think, "why keep working? It'll never be as good as I want it to be."

It's not a pretty thing, but there it is.

Most of the time I get around it by thinking that's impossible. The story has to get better with revision and work and I become a better storyteller the longer I write. My momma said practice makes perfect and my momma ain't no fool. I refuse to believe it's not going to work here.

So, maybe my answer is blind stubbornness? I dunno.

Good blog, Chance! And congrats on your new release.

Hellion said...

Yes, Hellie made the mistake. *LOL* Oops. Hey, it's Monday. Mondays always offer a rather rough start to the week so we feel better about Friday.

I see myself POSTING a blog on a Monday that's not my own; and I learn to double-check with Terri about what freaking day it is and when I'm actually supposed to blog again. Yeesh.

I'm sure I'll get past this. I'm always posting out of turn, as if I have something interesting to say. I'm so delusioned.

As for regular writing, well, I hope I get past it. I do want to be published. But I'm thin-skinned. I think a lot of us can be, especially when we spend so much of our time tapping into the emotions of our characters. It sorta goes hand in hand, but I know we have to repeat that mantra to ourselves over and over when our book is trashed in a review or isn't selling like hotcakes. We gave it all our very best effort; not all of us can be featured on Oprah to be recognized.... We just have to keep going until something sticks. Once something does, those people will glom everything we've ever written.

I don't think I fear the lack of plot...I fear not making the emotional connection I need to resonant with readers. That magic quality that will have readers defend you to the ends of the earth because they understand what you're trying to do. And I'm such an emotion shy person...I find them sticky and awkward and painful. I think I fear the more I explore my character's emotions, the more I'm revealing mine--and I don't like admitting I have emotions. Let alone undesirable emotions.

Bosun said...

I have a thick skin but I'm also secretly sensitive. *g* That's why radio was perfect for me. If someone didn't like me and changed the channel, I had no idea. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss!

Maybe this is what is holding me back from really getting these revisions done. Which is crazy because I love this story. But something is standing in the way, and it's getting really damn annoying.

I hope that teacher got her comeuppance of some serious humiliation. Yay for a new book!!! Boo to track changes. LOL!

Bosun said...

There's no such thing as an undesirable emotion!! LOL! And I'm pretty sure I told you at least twice that Chance was covering for me today. But I did think last night, "Hellie said she has to write a blog. Oh dear, I wonder if she thinks it's her day."

Then an animal made a gagging noise and my brain went sailing elsewhere.

Hellion said...

I know you told me. I can list about 3 times you mentioned it, but I think I thought it was next Monday (WHY I thought this, I don't know.) Doesn't matter. This is a much better blog.

I second the BOO to track changes. I have never figured out how those worked. Ugh. They just piss me off when they convert all these changes I don't want in my story. *LOL*

2nd Chance said...

Hey, Q! Did the day start with a mistake? Hel, did you post a blog, too? ;-)

I like the Becker quote and must remember it on those days when I do feel like the world is at an end!

Is Microsoft the only program with track changes? ;-)

2nd Chance said...

Marn, Hillary would say that was the ghost of perfectionism haunting you with that statement...the idea that nothing is going to be perfect so why bother...

I never thought of the anchors holding me down as perfectionist traits, but they really are! And fear is perfections nasty little twin.... when I first started this class I didn't see myself as a perfectionist...I mean look at my house and the clutter...but! It's traits of perfectionism that keep me from even starting to work on the pick up. I get it. I haven't figure out how to get around it yet, but it's there.

2nd Chance said...

Hellie! That is classic thin/thick skin thinking. For one thing, you're tougher than you think you are and nothing is ever going to come out perfect with what you're trying to do. Instead it comes out as good as it's going to get!

I know I was once convinced I was too fragile for this profession. And now and then, I still think I am. But I want more than I fear in this regard.

I'm working on viewing my thin skin as why and how I make connections....not something to hide or view as a liability.

And what are undesirable emotions? I mean, really...they are just emotions and nothing particularly wrong with them. Envy? I got that. Anger? Oh, yeah. Grief? Constantly... It's all part of the engine of writing!

2nd Chance said...

Bosun, I think secretly being thin skinned is a very common trait! We all walk that walk!

As for why you are having trouble with revisions? I think a great many of us writers like to play with the fantasy that it's all good and we don't need to do more. Or we don't want to do more. Like a little kid at a playground, we scuff our feet and mutter, "Don't wanna." A little rebelion is good for the soul.

But recess is over and time to get back to work.

Oh, is that a dog I hear gagging? ;-)

2nd Chance said...

Track changes...sigh. They are actually a very good thing and a wonderful tool. I have learned so much from the many, many, many rounds of track change edits. It's easier in the first drafts...easier in so much as I know I'm supposed to accept/reject/add my own changes... It's harder at the end where I'm not certain what I'm supposed to accept or change.

Read the editor changes...accept/reject. Or substitute my own...skip, next... One by one. But one by one they make the book better...

Even if the initial look is that a parade threw up on my book.

Hellion said...

For me nearly all emotions are undesirable. *LOL* I don't like being vulnerable; and emotions make you very vulnerable. I know women play the card having emotions make you stronger, blah, blah, blah, but I'd rather do the poker face thing (something I'm completely incapable of by the way) and make you wonder what I'm really thinking. I'd rather be a secret emotional person than have them all out there for dissection. That's the problem with writing. The emotions are no longer a secret; I'm open for dissection.

You can pick apart my shallow characters and holey plots, but don't tell me I'm emotionally stunted and have all the emotional range of a teaspoon...

2nd Chance said...

Ah, you just haven't figure out how to use your emotions and not have them use you!

I say, embrace the inner drama queen and let those emotions out! I mean, they make it out anyway, why not be the director in that play since it's gonna happen anyway!

We know you are at heart, a total basket case of emotional upheaval. How do we know? Because we are, too!

Give up, surrender to the emo side of life!

Donna Cummings said...

Great post, Chance. And congrats on another book release! I love the cover.

It's no wonder we fear mistakes. I mean, look at the public humiliation that resulted over the perfectly natural question of "what happens when an eraser is covered with glue?" Here you were doing a scientific experiment, but were punished rather than lauded for your curiosity.

Mistakes are always part of the discovery process, but we've been trained to believe they should be avoided. The problem is sometimes the MISTAKE is the actual success. LOL What if we'd avoided it? It wouldn't even come into existence.

So maybe we just have to learn how to deal better with adverse conditions. Kinda like applying sunscreen so we don't burn when we enjoy the sunshine. We need something to protect our valuable thin-skinned-ness. :)

2nd Chance said...

Donna - I remember something my husband learned while getting his MBA....all about when business used to embrace the mistake as an opportunity to learn.

Then buisness got all hyper about making mistakes and then people began hiding their mistakes instead of bringing them out...and everything went to hell...

I can still remember coating that eraser with glue... I must have had a plan? ;-)

Scapegoat said...

I'd say I'm pretty thick-skinned about criticism but I fear this idea of never being good enough. I can concretely say that's my main issue with finishing the WIP. I know it's not great, but hell it's a fast draft. But a part of me feels that it just shows I'll never really be a good writer.

Hellie's comment about not connecting emotionally with readers really hit home too. My favorite books and writers are those who really hit that emotional home run with me and I'm so worried that my writing will never have that.

So far the fear is winning, but I've recently made plans for a suprise attack on that fear and I'm calling it now that I'm making those fears my bitch in 2012. :)

P. Kirby said...

Ugh. Your kindergarten teacher sounds like a frickin' authoritarian Nazi. "Oh, noes! The child dabbed some glue on an eraser. Can't let her do that. All hell will break loose in the classroom."

When it comes to my writing, I have paper-thin skin. I'm not that way with other pursuits, including my art. I think it's because writing feels so emotionally exposing.

The track changes thing doesn't bother me at the editorial stage. I'm a pretty "clean" writer, and by the time I submit to a publisher, the story has been through various beta readers and critique groups. Besides, if the publisher acquired it, I know they must like it and any changes are simply a way of making it better.

I don't, however, read reviews. I read a couple of positive ones that my publisher sent me, but have avoided all others like the plague.

Either Carina or Amazon screwed up and has my full name, instead of my pen name, down for author on my latest release. The problem is that my newest book doesn't show up on my author profile at Goodreads. The good thing is that my newest book doesn't show up on my author profile at Goodreads. :)

It's good because I have no idea who, if anyone, has read it and there's no temptation to read interviews, thus sparing my tender little fee-fees. (I know, I'm pathetic.)

Bosun said...

I love Scape. LOL!

Pat - HOW could they get the author name wrong? That's so bizaar? Can they correct it?!

I have a friend with a debut release coming out soon and she found a less than positive review recently. A solid blow to the chest, it was. I doubt I could handle reviews. Sound scarier than track changes.

2nd Chance said...

Scape - I'm gonna send you a copy of the book this teacher taught will change the way you look at that fear and how it disguises itself behind procrastination/perfectionism and the like...

I think sometimes if I'm not scared, then I'm not alive...

Pat! How the hell did the name thing get so screwed? I mean, I know that I want to stick to one name because it will be easier to track and readers to follow from one title to another...

I don't go looking for reviews. If any show up from my publisher, than those I read. The rest...I don't!

I think my stuff is getting cleaner and cleaner, but there will never be a time without some confetti. That would probably worry me...

P. Kirby said...

I'm guessing that since my real name is Patricia Kirby and my pen name is P. Kirby (because I started out writing horror, and liked the gender ambiguity), it somehow got mixed up. Amazon has author listed as both Patricia Kirby and P. Kirby. The upside is that my website is, and I'm too cheap to spring for P. Kirby. So it has an advantage for Google searches.

The problem being that it may be confusing for all two of my readers. I've asked Carina to fix it; they claim they have. But it was still wrong last I looked.

OTOH, Goodreads is apparently going to stop using Amazon as a source for book data, so maybe it'll get sorted out at the end of this month.

At which point, The Canvas Thief might pop up in my author profile. Yikes!!!!!

I know some authors find value in reviews; they treat them as critiques after the fact. Me, I see it as the barn door is wide open and the horse is 50 miles away and running fast and never coming back. Better to spend my emotional energy writing the next book, then obsess on what I did wrong with this one.

Bosun said...

A post-release critique? The thought of that makes my teeth ache. No thank you!

And stop knocking your own books! LOL!

Hellion said...

Me, I see it as the barn door is wide open and the horse is 50 miles away and running fast and never coming back. Better to spend my emotional energy writing the next book, then obsess on what I did wrong with this one.

Ha! I think this is true. I remember seeing a quote once that said a critic was a legless man who teaches running.

Or to spin a famous teaching line: those who can, write; those who can't, critique!

Scapegoat said...

LOL! Jumping in here for the defense of reviews/critiques....

As a book blogger I consider my blog to be very much like a conversation with girlfriends. My reviews never include spoilers because who would want to spoil a book for someone. Likewise, I'm not there to nit-pick on grammer and technical stuff unless it directly takes away from the enjoyment of the story or how I percieved the book.

Personally, I think book reviews and book review blogs are like the modern day book club or coffeeshop talk for women. In our busy lives there is little time for talking to some friends face to face. I consider my reviews as a conversation with friends on books I loved or maybe didn't.

I am under no crazy notion that my reviews are "real" critiques or even that I am somehow in league with professional reviewers. I don't want to be. I mainly want to talk to friends about books I love. And I know for a fact, that my "conversations" sell books.

Our own Janga - who writes reviews far superior to mine own - has sold TONS of books with her reviews. I've seen the back and forth of comments on twitter so many times about her reviews making people buy.

So while I think most bloggers don't think of their reviews as critiques, I do think they are a very valuable marketing tactic. It's the modern day word of mouth. :)

I do think P that if focusing on the writing and not reading those reviews is working for you, then there is no reason to stop the success! It really is all about continuing to write. :)

2nd Chance said...

I sorta get the idea that online reviews have become the way one knows what to buy... and reviews are as good as the people who write them.

I love a good review where I feel someone actually read the book. I've had a few where I shook my head, wondering what book they read. But it works that way. I hate the push to get more reviews as if the number is more important then what they say.

It's a bit screwed up right now.

I think the best reviews are the ones that are chatter about a book.

I still fear reviews, as much as I look forward to them. My first negative one made me angry...mainly because I felt they didn't read my book without a mind already made up...and that is irritating!

But the whole review thing is a mess in a kettle! Sometimes it's great soup/stew...sometimes it's a mess!

Scape, you have a great review site and I love how you don't nit pick dummy things... It's the story, that is what it's all about.

Hellion said...

This article makes me think of Chance and the glue incident.

Bosun said...

Scape - I'm not knocking reviews at all. But they are a convo between the reviewer and readers. I only meant I probably wouldn't be able to read reviews about my own stuff. LOL! But they do serve a purpose.

Chance - The more reviews you get (and hopefully positive!) the more readers you can reach. And the reviewer is really doing the work for you. That's a good thing.

I need to check that link.

Nancy Northcott said...

Hi, Chance--Writing is such a personal thing that putting out there is tough. I've had enough rejections now to develop a fairly thick skin, but I still get some from time to time that burn.

A mistake I made fairly early on, which I'm sharing in the hope others may learn from it, was thinking that a good contest result meant the book was publishable. It doesn't. Not even a win. A win just means the book was the best of the six on the judge's desk, not that it was among the top 1% of the thousands in her inbox. Once I realized that, I became more aggressive about learning the market and polishing my skills.

Good luck with your new release!

2nd Chance said...

I get that, Nancy. It's easy to think contest results mean everything... I, on the other hand, always sucked at contests so decided they meant nothing.

I'm not sure thick skin is the answer...I'd rather be thin skinned and move on...

The marketing is where it's nuts...most definately!

P. Kirby said...

FWIW. I wasn't knocking reviews at all. In fact, I think they are an essential part of the reader, emphasis on reader, experience. I review every book I read (on Goodreads and sometimes on my blog). For me reviewing serves to help me examine what works and doesn't work in fiction. Sometimes it's a means of ranting about a really awful book, or gushing over one that totally rocked my world. (I'm honest, which apparently is something authors aren't supposed to do, but screw it, I'm also a reader.)

I also think reviews, including bad reviews, sell books. I'm not a whiny writer who wants to delete every bad review of my books. Heck, I'm happy someone read my books.

My point was this. As an author--as an author--reading reviews is a worthless and possibly destructive practice.

2nd Chance said...

Reviews can certainly scew one's sense of the up and the down.

Scapegoat said...

Too true P. I can image that reading them about your own books is hard - I hope 1 day I have the opportunity though!

Maybe then I'll be singing a different tune. :)

Janga said...

Thanks for the kind words about my reviews, Scape. like you, I think of myself as a reader sharing responses rather than as a professional reviewer. I read romance fiction in isolation for so long that I truly love the opportunity the blog gives me to share books I enjoy with others. And I only review books I like. I do sometimes point out something in a book I like that I thought made the book less than the author's best work, but I try to do it in the context of who I am as a reader and why it didn't work for me. And I always reiterate that I'm glad I read the book. All this makes me one of those Polyanna reviewers that the big review sites scorn.

If I am published in fiction, I hope I'll be wise enough to refrain from reading reviews of my work. I have enough difficulties not sending poison pin (and that's not a mistake, I mean p-i-n) letters to those who trash books written by my friends and favorite authors, who sometimes the same persons.

I know that perfectionism is my enemy as a writer, but it's one I can't seem to defeat. I have a major problem letting go of a ms. because I know from my published non-fiction that I can always make it better.

Nancy Northcott said...

Chance, that's so true, that lack of contest results doesn't mean the book is no good. That's another mistake people often make.

And yes, marketing is nuts.

2nd Chance said...

Nancy - I think marketing is like a giant game of wack-a-mole...

2nd Chance said...

I wonder about reviewers sometimes. I mean, we all know not to engage them when they get catty. But it almost seems like the more outrageous they are, the more attention they get. Is it one of those no press is bad press?

I have sites I refuse to look at since I feel they specialize in being nasty. And if an author dares to disagree they are told they are being non-professional.


It's just a bit nuts, all around!

If I were reviewing, I'd do it like Janga...always find something I like and say nothing about the books I didn't care for. (Hmmmm, she's never reviewed my books....) (Just kidding... ;-) should take this sure cleared up some preconceptions I had about exactly what perfectionism does to me anf for me. And I get to choose which I want! At least, that is the plan!

Hellion said...

I'm having a fear meltdown RIGHT THIS MINUTE! How do you make yourself write and take a chance on something that you think will be shot down by everyone in their right mind?

Bosun said...


Don't mind Hellie. She's being an unreasonable prat. Move along. Nothing to see here... *shoves Hellie off the plank*

Hellion said...

Mention of "boxes" was probably not a good idea here.

Hellion said...

I am not being unreasonable! You simply brought to life my fears and I cannot stuff them back into my box to just write it now!

2nd Chance said...

Well, if you don't do it, you'll never know if you might be WRONG and instead of shooting you down, they might raise you to their shoulders and march through the town with you, cheering!

You might step outside today and be hit by a train, or an asteroid...or you might buy a winning lotto ticket.

You'll never know if you huddle in your writer cave and never venture forth!

Bosun said...

Chancey makes a good argument there.

2nd Chance said...

Want some rum?

Hellion said...

No one ever actually wins the lottery. Those people are so fake. *LOL* The lottery is just something to prove people are bad at math.

And I'm scared of asteroids. That's just mean. *LOL*

I'm going to go the gym.

2nd Chance said...

Now, the gym. That scares me!

2nd Chance said...

Damn it, Hellie. If I can do this, after the last five years of my life, so can you. No excuses!

Bosun said...

The astoroid thing is going to have me nervous on the way to the car. And I was thinking all weekend I should buy a lottery ticket. I'm going to do it now, just to prove Hellie wrong.


Hellion said...

Good. I win either way with that lottery ticket. I either get to say, "Ha, I was right" or I get a free expense-free trip to CA for this year's RWA convention.

Is it wrong I'm already fantasizing what I'll be having for supper? Yeah, I thought it was. Oh, well.

2nd Chance said...

Supper in Anaheim? Hey, let's dream big! We'll ship Scape out for it, too!

Bosun said...

Don't be spending my winnings! First I have to pay off the house, student loans, the car and set up a college fund for Kiddo. And I suppose I should buy my parents a nice place. Houses are CHEAP in my hometown so that wouldn't take much. Then we'll see what's left.