BLOG CHAIN: Oh the Mistakes We Make

Welcome to another round for my Blog Chain. This time, Laura  brings us a question:

Regarding your writing career, what’s the best mistake you’ve ever made and why?

Wow. I have to say, I love this question. And I struggled with it greatly – which is why this post DID NOT get up until now. It isn’t that I don’t make mistakes – I make tons of them. But which is the best one?

If you had asked me this a few months ago, I am sure I would have said something about the need for crit partners (CPs), or something about querying too early.

But that was before.

Before I almost stopped writing fiction. Like really stopped.

The feelings started a few months ago. I’d finished up a tough revision on the novel I’m currently querying and sent it back out. Then I went back to work on another project.  But somehow, I had lost my MCs voice. I couldn’t find her…couldn’t make the words on the page the way I needed them to be.

I talked with my closest buds. Decided that I had just lost focus.  EMOTIONAL INTENSITY was nearing its launch date and I was very busy with that.

So, I decided to take a break for a few weeks.

Weeks turned into a month.

The month stretched into 6 weeks.

My book launched. It was a HUGE success – so much bigger than my publisher, my agent or I expected from my tiny little niche book.

I should have been happy – ecstatic even.

Instead, all I could think about was my lack of muse and the problems I seemed to be having in fiction-land.

I tried opening the file for a current project. But I was completely unable to write anything.

A few rejections came in on the novel I was querying.

Fear took over.

And I considered quitting fiction. Really quitting.

I chatted with my closest writerly buds. Cried with them. Turned to my faith, trying to figure out if it would be a mistake to quit. At least for a while. Just focus on NF.

I stewed, prayed, meditated and stewed some more. In the end, I had decided quitting was a viable option.

But I decided NOT to make a hasty decision. So I’d give it a few weeks.

And then, this morning, I read a beautiful story about someone’s road to publication – one which took more than 10 years and a very unusual path.

I had heard similar stories, but this one not only resonated with me…it came at the EXACT right time. It filled me with hope. Reminded me that it is perfectly okay if my journey in fiction is not as smooth as it has been in nonfiction – that my rocky road did not mean I shouldn’t write fiction.

It was all okay.

I have no idea what the future holds for me and fiction writing. But I do know that I love it. And I know I am not really ready to stop. Not really.

And I also know that the “mistake” of walking away (because yes, I had pretty much decided I was quitting last night) was the best thing that could have happened…

Ultimately, that act made me see all the reasons why I can’t. 

What has your biggest mistake been?

For more from the chain, check out Kat’s poignant post yesterday and Margie’s post tomorrow.

16 thoughts on “BLOG CHAIN: Oh the Mistakes We Make

  1. Oh dear, I’ve SO been there! Thanks for sharing such a poignant story, Christine! The thing I love about the pause before the leap is that something comes through just at the right time. I’m glad you decided to keep writing fiction!!!😀

  2. I totally relate. I’ve thought about giving up many times. I actually expressed the idea last week to someone who I don’t always see eye to eye with and her reaction surprised me. She had nothing but encouragement for my writing and for me as a person. She urged me not to stop writing. And because I knew she had nothing to gain by telling me this, (I’ve been convinced sometimes that she doesn’t even like me!) it meant even more. Encouragement can come from the strangest places, but embrace it. Remember it. And don’t give up.

  3. OMG! You’re in my head again, Christine. I went through this just yesterday (minus the NF book part). After getting feedback from an agent on my first 10 pages, I decided I couldn’t do this anymore. I had suddenly lost faith in my writing, and didn’t want to deal with anymore revisions on this book. That’s all I’ve been doing for the past 10 months.

    But then my friend told me to put it aside for awhile and work on the project I’m currently in love with. I realized she was right. I was afraid at first that if I put the other project aside, I’d never touch it again. But giving it a break is exactly what I need to do, then when I have to give my new project some space, I’ll finally be ready to tackle the first chapter again and take it from being “decent” to something better.

    At least I hope I can. I gave my main characters a mental hug good bye when I started querying (you know, so the rejections wouldn’t sting so much), and I don’t know where they’ve gone. Hopefully they’ve only gone on a short vacation.

    Good luck, Christine, with your return to fiction. 😀

  4. Wow! Mistakes plenty of them. First and biggest would be working on my first book with a partner. In the end I discovered we had two very distinctive voices that didn’t blend well at all (no fault of either party). Still I let our collaborative effort go out to his agent. I think I was honestly relieved when the book was rejected. (Hated the final product).

    The storyline had veered so far off the grid of what I originally envisioned. What did I learn? I could easily have stopped writing there. The experience definitely left a sour taste in my mouth; instead it reaffirmed in a very real way – I had my own voice and ideas when it came to writing. Since then I’ve done nothing but hone that voice.

    I’m so glad you’re not giving up. I think after we’ve been beaten to a pulp by this business, what survives – we’re all that much better for it. (Hugs)Indigo

  5. Pingback: Tweets that mention BLOG CHAIN: Oh the Mistakes We Make « CHRISTINE FONSECA, AUTHOR -- Topsy.com

  6. Thank you for sharing this. I suspect the general public, myself included, has no idea how HARD authors work. And that they face rejection so much more than musicians, who face it every.single.time. they perform. In music, you’re only as good as your last performance. About as intense in writing, eh?

  7. I think giving yourself permission to walk away and accepting it’s ok one way or another is very brave. I, too, am glad though you’re staying with fiction for the moment too.🙂 Congratulations on the success of Emotional Intensity! Whatever the future holds for you, you sound like you’ll be read and strong to handle anything.

  8. Pingback: Blog Chain: The Upside of Mistakes | Margie Gelbwasser

  9. Glad you’re going to keep trying, Christine. Just don’t worry about trying to do everything right now. Work on whatever project appeals at the moment. Unless you’re under contract.🙂

  10. Don’t you love when little gifts are left along the way? I’ve found in my writing journey a lot of bridgeless roads and just when I felt I couldn’t make passage, another spark of hope showed me the way. Thanks for sharing and I’m glad you didn’t give up. Good luck on your fiction writing.

  11. My biggest mistake was taking someone’s advice early on about changing something rather major in my novel. I didn’t sit on the comments or think about it at all. Just dove right in and started making changes.
    It was so horrible. I was on a major roll and was pleased with my progress. But, this person had been writing novels longer than I had, so it made sense to listen, right?! Yeah, no.
    It took a while to recover and piece it all back together and I was off track for quite a while after.
    Even recently, I received feedback from an editor at a publishing house and didn’t even think about changing anything until I was ready. Once I was, I spent the weekend revising and my book is so much better because of it. But I had to be sure I was doing it because it made sense to me. Not just because it would make the book sell better or would speak to readers on a different level.
    I realized I have to stay true to myself, my voice, and my idea for my stories.
    So now, I sit on all feedback until I’m positive. Substantial feedback, that is. Typos and little things, yeah, I’ll fix🙂

  12. This is such a great response, and it resonates with me deeply. In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t put up any writings for some time now, and to be honest, I haven’t written much either. I’m working on my degree and work and family and writing has just had to take a back seat for the moment. But things like this answer remind me that I’m not quitting – I’m just taking a pause. I am very glad you have not decided to quit, because you’re incredibly talented and the world needs to read your words.

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