Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for August: (8/3) Dianne Freeman (8/10) Daryl Wood Gerber (8/17) E. B. Davis's Review of Granite Oath, James M. Jackson's new novel (8/24) Rose Kerr (8/31) V. M. Burns.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

A Guest Blog by John Carenen

First of all, many thanks to E.B. Davis for allowing me the opportunity to guest blog on Writers Who Kill. I gave it a lot of thought. What do I have to say? Can I encourage other writers? Will it make sense?

All writers, whether they are best selling authors or writing for a few close friends, or just family, lack confidence. ALL writers suffer from self doubt. Let’s face it, we all have it, and I’m pretty sure I have more than my share. We are all cursed with lack of confidence when we write. That’s not to say we have good days when we’re enthusiastic and things are clicking and that one setting finally comes around. Hang on to that feeling because you’ll need it later.

I’ve had more rejections than I can count. But I still write. Why? I guess you could say I have to write, that I need to write. I can’t explain it. I keep writing even though my success has been limited. And I will keep writing even if I never again publish anything except maybe a “Letter to the Editor” in the local newspaper.

Let me tell you one about a friend of mine. I will protect her privacy and not give you her name, but every bit of this story is true. She wrote a first novel. It was what I would call a “literary mystery.” The language is beautiful, the story is intriguing, the ending a shocker.

 It was well received. One of the Big Four publishers offered her a six-figure contract. She was ecstatic. Her agent suggested she not take the contract. WHAT? A better idea was to have a bidding war for the right to publish this first novel. She agreed. The original publisher ended up buying the rights for even more than originally offered.

The book was published to acclaim from critics and other writers. Then her agent began pressuring her to write another literary mystery. Under pressure, she sweated out her second novel. Also excellent, well received. Success. More pressure.

She sent in her third novel and her agent rudely rejected it. Corrosive self doubt set in. Depression set in. She seriously considered quitting writing altogether. Her publicist spent hours on the phone building her back up, encouraging her, listening to her. My friend is writing that third book and enjoying it, “free from the agents and publishers” she says. She sounds good.

So what does this mean to you? You know that obstacles will jump up and swat you down. You also know that you really do write well. So seek out honest critique from someone you trust, or a writers group designed to buoy you up, and let them. And beware of “writing snobs” who participate in such groups in order to put others down and brag on their own work. You don’t have time for them, so run away from any group like that. You have writing to do. And it will be good.

Author Bio:
An Iowa native, I was born and raised in Clinton, home town of the American movies’ first sex symbol, Lillian Russell. I graduated from Clinton High School with no distinction, direction, or enthusiasm. I attended several colleges, graduating from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in English, then an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from the Iowa Writers Workshop. These accomplish-ments stunned my high school guidance counselors. Later, I earned an M.A. from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, in Special Education.

My mainstream commercial novel, Signs of Struggle was published by Neverland Press in September, 2012. The sequel (2nd in a series), A Far Gone Night, was published October 2014. The third, The Face on the Other Side, was published in March, this year. I am hard at work on #4, plus another, stand-alone novel about a lonely man living in the mountains of North Carolina, who sees a murder but does not report it.

For fun, I think about working out, go on a hike every now and then, read everything from Robert B. Parker to Dorothy Ayers, and play with my dog, Lily. I also take frequent naps.


Jim Jackson said...

Hey John, welcome to WWK. I suspect part of the self-doubt problem is that the vast majority of us write lousy first drafts, with plot holes large enough to swallow Volkswagens, poor grammar, lousy description, dialogue no one would or could speak, etc. It's dreck and we know it and we despair -- until we do the hard work of rewriting. Then we can earn our mojo again.

Good luck with The Face on the Other Side.

KM Rockwood said...

You sum it up well. We need to write. And confidence in our writing is a fleeting thing. But if we let it discourage us, we won't be able to do all the rewriting, editing, etc. that polishes our work and possibly leads to publication.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Congratulations on your publications! I wallow in self-doubt until I read a book filled with 3 page dialogue chapters and lots of random facts about guns and race cars. I throw it across the room and feel terrific!

Warren Bull said...

Writers continue to write through rejections, successes and doubt even when they'd rather take a nap.

Grace Topping said...

Thanks, John, for visiting us here at Writers Who Kill, and for your words of encouragement. After working on my first (and only) manuscript for several years, I finally have it in good enough shape for an agent to send out to publishers. The hard part now is trying to write a second one. Getting into it is harder than writing my first one. If I get a two or three-book contract, I'll be in a panic having to deliver a manuscript in a prescribed amount of time.

Kait said...

Oh, John, what a refreshing post. Thank you so much for visiting! At the end of the day, we should all write for fun and love of the craft. Otherwise, it's just too hard a job!

Gloria Alden said...

Welcome, John. After having several rejections of my first book, I decided to publish it myself, and have been very happy with it. I'm working on book ten in my Catherine Jewel mystery series and have a following who enjoy my books. Do I get the promotion I would get if I had a regular publisher? No. But like you said, I love to write and I'm free to write when I feel like it and other times spend time with my collie, Maggie, walking in the woods or doing other things I like to do. I'm not under any pressure to get a book out. I have some good writer friends who critique my books and find anything that needs changing. I also wrote a middle-grade book that is enjoyed by not only kids but adults, too.

Rowena Carenen said...

I am currently trying to find a publisher for one book while writing another and disappointed in sales for the first. This self doubt is a thing I understand.

CHS63 said...

Jim Jackson, many thanks for your comments. Appreciate hearing from you, and you're spot on. John Irving said he spends half his life in revision. I do enjoy it, you know, making something better somehow.

KM Rockwood, good to hear from you. You are exactly right. If we want to be published, we have to never quit, all the time understanding the writing is hard work. Thanks for your comments.

Margaret Turkevich, thanks for your observations. As Dorothy Parker said, some books need to put down gently and others need to be hurled across the room. You and Dorothy!

Warren Bull, thank you. I agree with you about naps. To be more spiritual, I call them "godly rest." Works for me.

Grace Topping, good to hear from you. Panic over three-book contracts is a good thing. Friend of mine published his debut novel twenty years after he wrote it. Gotta give him credit for being persistent. You, too!

Kait, many thanks for your comments. You encourage ME!

Gloria Alden, good to hear from you. Ten books in one series! WOW! I'll have to check out the Catherine Jewel mystery series. You are one serious writing. Thanks for your comments, and good luck.

CHS63 said...

Thank you, everyone!