Thursday, October 7, 2010

Who's On YOUR Cheer Squad?

Writers, like cheerleaders, need a solid base underneath them. My rock is The Hubster. He holds me up high and steady. My first reader. Usually my most critical because he can't stand YA. This is a good thing. If the story can suck him in, I'm on the right path. He also has questions. Questions that need answering. Also, a good thing. Because we miss things. The picture in our head doesn't always make it to the paper. Sometimes there are things missing - from the background, from the foreground, from the face...

While it's fine to have that one rock solid person beneath you, look at how much more you can do with a BIGGER group!

You can build higher. And you have people you trust to catch you if you fall. Then launch you right back up there!

Which brings me to my expanded Cheer Squad.

I got my first rejection. It was the classic mistake everyone makes in submitting too soon. But it was one little contest that promised a short critique of everyone who submitted. The Top 3 winners got to submit a full manuscript. It was my first complete book...and a first draft. There was NO WAY I would win. I just wanted the feedback on the first three chapters from a professional. Silly me. I placed in the Top 3. Then I panicked because I knew what I had was not worthy of the editor or the publishing company, but it was too late to back down. I sent it off, then beat myself up mentally for making the mistake others had warned against. What was done was done. Back to the rejection email...

It stung a little. Very little because it was well written and not much in it was a surprise. The editor took the time to give me great feedback that will help strengthen my writing. I printed it out and slid it into a frame. Silly me. I can't help it. I'm still proud of it, rejection or not.

I also sent the email to my cheerleaders (without the editor's email, name or publishing company on it - simple cut and paste of the content so that they can see what we'll be working on in critique group).

One of my cheerleaders took that rejection letter and pulled out only the positive, emailing it back to me like this:

Let's count her words "wonderful" "intriguing" "promise" "sucked me in" "great" "strong, capable, knowledgeable, and intelligent" " easy charm" "winner" "you write it well" "lovely intriguing story" "fantastic potential".
And such helpful advice - such solid concrete direction. You book is going to be even more excellent with this review. I can help too! You will be published. You are just steps away!

How AWESOME is that?!? Because now I can do this:

She flipped me right back up. (Amanda, you ROCK!)

Still have work to do, but keep soaring. And I'll keep flipping you right back up there until you have that trophy.

Until WE have that trophy.

Because as writers, we never do it alone. We have our cheer squad helping us along.

That's what Acknowledgments are for.

Who's on YOUR cheer squad?


  1. Your friend Amanda IS a rock star. That was so great of her to point all the really positive things in your first rejection, because rejections are often very positive (although we can't always see it at the time).

    I've been so lucky. I have a big cheering squad (which includes you, btw), but definitely my husband Steve is the captain of the team. I couldn't do any of this without him.

    Great post! And I'll be waiting on that email ;)

  2. You truly do have a wonderful cheer squad. Go you!

  3. Amanda sounds FABULOUS!!! It's great to have people close to you that can keep you from drowning in wine and being coming a scavenger for sweets! What a wonderful cheer squad you have!!!

    I have a few buddies I look to for help, they know exactly what to say to keep me in my toes! I love them!

  4. Great post! My DH is my base (and first reader)and I have a number of fantastic number friends. Interestingly, I get some of my best support from two non-writer friends (one isn't even a reader) a photographer and a composer. I think they're an integral part of my support team because I talk about the creative process with them, but we rarely touch on our actual products.

  5. Whoops! Meant to say "a number of fantastic WRITER friends" -- sorry!

  6. Dang right! Congrats on getting 3rd though! That's crazy awesome and go you for having such a wonderful outlook about it!
    You make me wish I had printed off my first rejection (a short story I wrote on the fly. Wasn't surprised it didn't make it either.)
    I just love all my cheerleaders. You sound like you have some great ones too!

  7. It sounds like you have a great group of people behind you :)

    And kudos on making it in the top 3!

    It's all a giant learning curve, and it's always nice to have people who will let you sulk for a while (preferably with ice cream :p) and then encourage you to keep going.

    Gooo J-E-N-N-I-E!

  8. What a great friend your Amanda is/must be! Those are the things that help us get our sea legs back and heads on straight. My husband is that way for me. He tells me I'm ridiculous when I doubt myself. I have yet to get real life writing friends who know my writing well enough to build me back up. :o) I do have crit partners that send lovely emails like this too, though!

    Thanks for sharing, Jennie!

  9. Hubs is the same way over here--he doesn't like YA, so if he's diggin a story, I feel pretty good about it. Then I have great friends and even better bleeps. When you guys say you like something, that's esp meaningful b/c you guys KNOW. Yes? :o)

  10. That's actually fantastic that you got third place and a professional to look at. ANY positive feedback from an editor is great. In his book, On Writing, Stephen King said that he taped his first rejection letter where he got feedback on his bedroom wall. So just keep on going and soon that rejection will become an acceptance!

    I'm cheering for you, Jen!!

  11. So awesome!!! What a great idea to pull out the positives and look at them as a unit. Great thinking :)

  12. Wow. Your friend Amanda sounds absolutely amazing! She sounds like the kind of girl every writer needs around. Lucky you.

    Sorry about the rejection but hopefully the critique will help you tremendously.

  13. What a terrific post! You said it so perfectly. Hubby is my number one supporter, but when it comes to my ups and downs and crits, I have the closeness of my crit group who are such terrific friends too. It's hard to think what we would do without our support. Once we're lucky enough to have them, hold on tightly and do what you can to keep them!

  14. Great post! Our writing buddies are priceless, aren't they? I'd be lost without my crit buddies.