A Kick in the Pants

I began the summer with very good intentions. Intentions of finishing my current WIP, polishing it to perfection, and actually attempting to get it in front of someone. 

But good intentions are not the same thing as writing, and deadlines, and actual effort. 

I can’t rightly say why this book is taking me so long. I know part of it is laziness, but part is also fear. I dove headlong into my first book with a head full of ideas, but not with a whole lot real world knowledge of the publishing industry. Soon I was reading writers’ blogs and agents’ blogs, and realizing this publishing thing was going to be an uphill battle. Even as my writing exponentially improved, I became discouraged. OK – I’ll admit. I was terrified. The more I knew about publishing, the more I became certain that I’d never be able to do it. Winning the lottery seemed more likely, and I don’t even play.

Of course, even as my writing changed, so did my life. I had just one sweetly napping baby when I wrote that first novel. Now I have a four-year-old, two-year-old, 14-month-old, and as news to my many readers (okay, all two of you) I’m eighteen weeks along with my fourth. No, my four-year-old will not yet be five when this baby is born. Yes, it was planned. Yes, I think we are crazy.

Yowza. Four kids under five. So I have an excuse as to why I’m not writing, right? Wrong. I wish I did. Except for some wicked evening sickness those first 14 weeks, nothing should have been getting in my way. I still have several hours in the evening, and I’ve always possessed the ability to hire a babysitter if I really, really needed writing time. Even now, as my two-year-old is climbing on my lap and announcing, “I must hug you. I am hugging you,” I’m still writing. Now she’s straddling me so that I have to crane my neck to the side to see the screen. Yep, still writing.

I entered ACFW’s Genesis contest this past year and semi-finaled. My scores were, to say the least, encouraging. Two of the semi-final judges gave me 100s. Last month I entered ACFW’s new First Impressions contest. I happened across it the day entries were due, and dashed off a 200-word blurb during nap time. I didn’t even review my five page entry, I was cutting the deadline so close.

Last week I received my scores. The first was a 54.5. Yes, it was out of 100. I took a deep breath and accepted that I would never write again. I wasn’t any good. I never would be. A few minutes later I screwed up the courage to open the second score. It was a 90.

Hmmm. Okay, so the second judge must have been having a good day. Or maybe they just loved mail order bride stories. I made a guess that the third score would be a 67, and opened the attachment.

It was a 99.5. 

I think every writer needs a kick in the pants every now and then. All three scores were mine. The first reminded me that my writing isn’t for everyone, and never will be. Even if I achieve my publishing dream, there will always be someone who just doesn’t “get” my novels. The other two scores were the little push I needed to open up that dusty Word doc again. I may not have all the time in the world to write, or even the dream circumstances under which to write, but I’m going try. Even if it means writing with two children on my lap. Yes, I’m doing that right now.



2 thoughts on “A Kick in the Pants

  1. First of all a HUGE congrats on your new addition. I am in awe of you. Some nights my husband and I tumble into bed after a day chasing our toddler (yes that’s 2:1 ratio!) and look at each other and say “Imagine what it will be like when there’s two of them”. So I am completely in awe of you 🙂

    Secondly, totally true. I also was a semi-finalist in Genesis and my second round scores ranged from 60 something to 100. I found myself on Amazon getting really worked up that some nasty little creature had given one of my favourite books of this year a one star review. ONE STAR. Could they not read? Do they have no taste? I bet they spend their days watching those tacky reality TV shows. Then I realized I better toughen up because if I’m ever published it just proves I’ll have more than my fair share of one stars coming my way as well!

    • Kara, I really can’t explain it, but somehow 2 are easier than 1. Much easier. I can’t say 3 are easier than 2, but the difficulty does not exponentially increase. Also, I am blessed to have toddlers who love to fetch diapers, toothbrushes, sort laundry, and think “helping mommy” is a particular treat. Now if only I could get any of them to sleep past 6:30 a.m., I’d be all set.

      My husband commented that my (consistently) wide ranging scores means readers are passionate about my writing – both positively and negatively. He claims this is a good thing. I think he’s right. I’d rather have a 100 and a 50 than two 75s. And at least, so far, I’ve had two very high scores and one fairly low score in every contest. Maybe I can even parlay that into my own slogan? “Whitney Bailey – adored by two out of three readers, and only mildly despised by the third.”

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