"Head Down, Chin Up"
by Natasha Deen
The first year—the first few days—my husband and I were together, I was convinced he’s lost his mind. Every time I made the bed, he’d make a huge deal out of it. You’d think I’d found the cure for cancer, but no, it was just straightening sheets. It was lovely, but kind of embarrassing. I mean, yeesh, it was just a bed. I hadn’t found life on Mars or anything.
After a while, I realized he was genuinely thankful and I realized it made sense. He worked twelve-to-fourteen hours every day. When you have a work schedule like that, little things matter.
And his philosophy—little things count—infected every part of my life, from the friendships I made to the attitude I brought to my studies, and to the mindset I have when it comes to writing. Because he’s right. Little things do matter. Life is built on the small things.
We remember small acts of kindness, we’re wounded by the trivial but thoughtless remarks of those we respect and admire.
In work—as in life—little things matter. Being an author isn’t a sprint. It’s a long distance marathon. If you judge your worth or value by how quickly your book skyrockets up the charts, you may have no value at all. The number of overnight successes is small and far between.
Those writers who have become iconic in our minds were long haul kind of people. They suffered through endless rejections, bad reviews, heartache, and heartbreak to emerge on the other side. And in their struggles, I’ve found the lessons on how to live my life as a writer.
1) Count your victories, no matter how small—I always imagine success as a person, loving and generous, who wishes only to give us gifts and blessings. And I think, if success was really a person, would I discount their small presents? Of course not. It’s always lovely when a friend thinks of you…it’s always a treat when you find that small note in your inbox or the single flower on your desk. We appreciate the little gestures of love from our friends, why not appreciate it from success?
2) Your worth is reflective—when I was in high school phys ed., my teacher made us grade ourselves. I gave myself 65%, certain she would look at that mark, realize how hard I’d really tried, and compensate. No such luck. As it turned out, she took the mark she’d have given us, added it to the grade we gave ourselves, divided by two, and voila, our mark for the semester. If I’d been honest and said, “Hey, look. I know I suck at gym. I can’t even throw a ball straight, but I tried really hard, like 85% hard,” I would have walked away with an 83% that semester. It was a powerful and long-lasting lesson: the world won’t give you value that you don’t give yourself. Sure, the reviews may be one-star and your book won’t sell, even in the bargain bin, but did you think it was a worthy effort? Are you proud of what you did? Good. That’s all that matters.
3) Rejection is protection (aka live in the future)—I look back at my life (personal and professional) and it’s interesting to see, how in the moment, a rejection felt so terrible and hurtful. I didn’t get that publishing contract, I didn’t get that guy. But fast forward five years and I’m thankful I didn’t get those things. I try to be grateful for those hurts because I know in a few years, I’ll understand the “why” and be thankful, so why not be thankful right now? I mean, that publishing house that I so badly wanted? Right now, they’re making business decisions that aren’t respecting their authors. And that boy? Well, if I’d gotten him, I wouldn’t have my husband. And I’d much rather have my husband. He thinks I’m a superhero for making the bed.
4) Head Down, Chin Up—work hard, do your best, but keep an optimistic attitude. There’s loads of terrible books being published—why can’t your book be among them? Seriously, though, writing is a hard job. It will break your heart and leave you sleepless, withdrawn, and desolate. But it can also leave you feeling like you could eat the world, that you’ve gone through the dragon’s den and survived…the writing life (heck, life in general) is full of waves. The bad times will roll in, but they’ll roll out, too. Just remember that.
5) Don’t Look Back—they tell runners this. When you’re running a race, don’t look back. Why? Because you not only take your eye off the finish line, but you unconsciously slow down. Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff that will happen in your writing life that will suck like a Hoover. There’ll be the agent who leaves you, the publishing house that drops your books. There will be days—months—when nothing you write is worth keeping, when the story and the characters won’t work. That’s okay. That’s life. Agatha Christie had her moments. So did James Joyces. The difference between the successful writer and the person whose manuscript gathers dust on the hard drive is that the successful writer kept going, kept moving, kept looking at the finish line and running for it. Don’t look back, don’t slow down. Just keeping moving.
Life isn’t easy. It’s not supposed to be. Writing is hard. That’s the way it should be—because nothing worth having comes simply or easily—and that’s why we appreciate it. So, just remember, no matter your job or your situation: head down, chin up. It’ll pass. The water will flow out and leave you in the sunshine, your toes warming in the sand.
What Happens in Vegas
Genre: Adult Romantic Suspense
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: August 17, 2011
It’s not that Binda Morningstar’s an idiot—the girl’s got more degrees than a thermometer—but there’s something about a crisis that makes her lose her mind…and accidently injure anyone within a ten foot radius. But if she’s going to rescue her boss from a cursed jewel, she’s going to have to keep it together. Unfortunately for her, the cop on the case, Corin Hawthorne, has her losing her mind and her heart…and if he gets anymore drool worthy, she’s going to lose her inhibitions, too. To save her boss and win her man, she’s got to outrun a mobster, outwit the YIFFS at a sex fetish convention, and outthink an ex-wife—and she’s got to do it all without breaking an arm or inadvertently hitting anyone with pepper spray…it’s all got Binda hoping that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
When I was little, there was only one thing I wanted to be: a superhero. But there came a day when my dreams were broken, and that was the day I realized that being a klutz was not, in fact, a super power, and my super weakness for anything bright and shiny meant a magpie with self-control could easily defeat me in a battle of wills. I turned to writing as a way to sharpen my mental super-hero skills. I don’t get to orbit the earth in a space station (and thank God, because I get sick on merry go round), but I do get to say things like: “Stand aside! This is a job for Writing Girl!!”
When Natasha was little, there was only one thing she wanted to be: a superhero. Unfortunately, being a klutz isn’t a super-power. She turned to writing because it allows her to be anything she wants, including a caped crusader. When not writing, she is an instructor and editor. Visit her at www.natashadeen.com, and hang out with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.
Partners in Crime Tours
August 1-Guest Post&Giveaway@ CMash Loves To Read
August 2-Guest Post@Tribute Books Reviews
August 3-Spotlight@Books, Products and More
August 8-Review@Hott Books
August 9-Interview@The Book Connection
August 10-Guest Post@Stuff&Nonsense
August 15-Review&Giveaway@Terri Forehand
August 16-Guest Post@Darlene's Book Nook
August 18-Guest Post@Dollycas's Thoughts
August 19-Review@From The TBR Pile
August 23-Guest Post@Terri Forehand
August 25-Review@Cafe Of Dreams Book Reviews
August 26-Review@Gelati's Scoop
August 30-Review@A Good Day To Read
August 31-Interview@ Blogtalk Radio's G-Zone
September 1-Review@Cocktails and Books
September 2-Review@Bags, Books and Bon Jovi
September 5-Interview@The Top Shelf
September 6-Review@ Words By Webb
September 6-Interview@Coffee and a Keyboard
September 8-Review@Hypnotically Entranced
September 13-Review@Coffee and a Keyboard
September 16-Guest Post and Giveaway@Darlene's Book Nook
September 19-Review@Oodles Of Books
September 20-Interview@Book Marketing Buzz
September 23-Review@Urban Girl Reader
September 23-Review@Lady Lit Reviews
September 26-Review@Romancing The Book(Valerie)
September 27-Review@Frequent Reader, Infrequent Blogger
September 28-Review@ Sweeping Me
September 29-Review@Socrates Book Reviews
September 30-Guest Post@The Book Faery Reviews