Monday, February 6, 2012

Silencing Your Inner Cheerleader

What I'm about to share with you is a lesson in what not to do.


I believe!
So why is this so heavy?
I have had a favorite publisher. My hopes for being published somehow became tied together with this specific publishing company. They are located in my same state, publish books similar to mine, and...I'm embarrassed to admit it now, but I thought for sure my story was good enough for them to accept for publication. So after months of polishing and perfecting The Query Packet of Dreams, I sent it in.

Weeks passed. I'm aware that I should have focused on other things, continued to write, sent in packets to other publishers or agents. I didn't. In truth, I only half-lived, always some part of me focused on where The Query Packet of Awesomeness was at that moment. I even prayed, every night, that the slush reader would come upon The Query Packet, would be well fed, and focused. I prayed that it would get the shot that it deserved.

The weeks passed, and every day I went out to my mailbox, wondering if the envelope had come. I started to get excited. This was taking a long time. A lot longer than their website had indicated. Working as a slush editor made me think that extra time before the rejection, meant that it had survived one round, and The Query Packet had made it's way up the channels. I answered ever unknown caller with a nervous and professional excitement.

"Hello, this is Sheena Boekweg." (sigh) "No I am not interested in a newspaper subscription."

On their website, they said it would take an average of eight weeks to respond. So, after eight weeks, and until twelve weeks I lived in a state of nervous energy, and self doubt, which was quickly silenced by my inner cheerleader telling me (perkily) that The Query Packet was brilliant.

See, most writers have an inner editor, and I have one too. The real damaging voice in my head though, is the inner cheerleader who dresses like a New York Professional, and sounds like my mom. She's the one that gets me in trouble. The one who says "this is brilliant," and then after someone reads it I realize how embarrassed I actually should have been to send it out.

Basically, for twelve weeks, I was waiting for the shoe to drop, and then..oh look.. a falling shoe.

I don't have to tell you the kind and respectful words they used to tell me my baby was ugly, do I?

That inner cheerleader of mine, read those happy positive words in the form letter, and saw the silver lining. They must have liked it, quite a lot, to say something so positive, right?

People say you have to silence your inner editor to get the story out, but the inner cheerleader is worse.

For these reasons:

The inner cheerleader hasn't passed an English test. Never trust the grammar check made by your inner cheerleader. She's no good at grammar, or spelling. Perhaps she can't even read. In fact, she may be blind

The inner cheerleader is sadistic. The more you believe her, the more you need her when reality comes to bite your hiney. Which is good job security when you think about it.

I want to believe her, especially when kind friends or family, echo the words she whispers in my ear.

In fact, one day, that beautiful day when my inner cheerleader will be proven right, she will be my best friend. She will say, "See, I always knew you could do it." and I'll be glad I didn't silence her completely. can stay.

But from here on out, you will have no hand in the editing process. That's the inner editors turn to whisper in my ear.



  1. I'm sorry it didn't work out for your dream publisher. :(

    I do know how that inner cheerleader can mess with your head. I tend to go from this is the awesomest story ever, move over Stephanie Meyers to no one is ever going to want to read this drivel, all on the same day.

    We need to believe in ourselves, but at the same time, we need to humble enough to recognize that even though we have learned so much, there is always more to learn. We can always be better.

    And even if it is not this story, it could be the next one, or the next. The only way anyone really fails is to quit.

    And Sheena, if this is the story I think it is. I honestly think it is an awesome story. So chin up, and get that baby back out there. :)

  2. My inner cheerleader is a huge timewaster too. When I first write something--just about anything, really--it seems so darned brilliant that I want to read it again and again.

    She's also the reason why I've learned to write my blog post a day or two in advance. It all sounds completely perfect at first, but give it some time, and I'm thinking, "What did that sentence even mean??"

    I bet we had the same pet publishing company. I even paid for the opportunity to do a face to face with the editor. Sigh. It's OK. Our time will come. But only if our inner cheerleaders turn into outer publicists. :)

  3. In some ways I think you're very fortunate to have such a constant cheerleader. Having the courage and enthusiasm to write is a huge bonus because it means you can actually finish things (and I know you are very good at editing, too).

    My inner cheerleader is a wimp and my editor is a bully, usually cutting in by the second paragraph. It makes writing anything slow and painful. I know the grass is always greener, but don't try to drive that cheerleader away. Or if you do, send her my way and I'll trade you for some of my inner editor.

  4. Aw, I'm so sorry to hear you had to get crushed by a big, falling shoe. Bet it had a spike heel too. :/

    Did they say nice things to you? Because as someone who sends rejection emails, I can tell you that if I bother to take the time to say something nice, I mean it.

    Besides, you have something better than an inner cheerleader now. You have us, your fellow Prosers. We believe in you, we're always here with nice words... and edits, when you need them. <3

  5. I guess I have found a sort of equilibrium. And it is, I think, the thing that so many people get so sick of hearing me say, the thing about subjectivity.

    I, for the most part, like the stuff I write. I can go back over stories from two or three years ago, and while I may see things here and there I wish I'd done differently, overall I still enjoy the story. And I know it isn't just me; there are plenty of other people who enjoy my stories as well (yourself included, Sheena.) So, I am pretty confident about my writing, overall.

    However, I also realize that there are plenty of people who don't like my stories. Plenty of people who never will. I realize that there are things about some my writing that don't fit very well with some of the current trends in some areas of publishing. And while sometimes I try to change those things in a particular story and accommodate common wisdom about the markets, I realize this has nothing to do with the "quality" of my work in any universal sense, but it can affect whether a particular story sells to a particular place or whatever.

    I put thought and effort and love into everything I create, so to me it is all "good." However I realize that may not carry over to a particular editor; however, it's also possible that it will. Heck, the last story I sold, the "best" sale I've made yet, was a story about 3 years old with a couple of dozen rejections behind it.
    So I guess my point is, I don't really worry too much...most of the time...about inner editors or inner cheerleaders. I just tell my stories.

  6. Great point, Justin/M.E. I'm getting to that point.

    One day. :) Thanks for commenting.

  7. My inner cheerleader is pretty quiet, except for one thing: She loves to estimate time, and she's horrible at it. She's the one who tells me at 8:15 that I have time to shower before leaving for school at 8:30, even though I still haven't made the kids' lunches or snacks or dug out that permission slip... She's also the one who tells me I can have a complete draft of my novel by next week. And she really means it.

    When it comes to time, the best way to deal with her is a roll of duct tape. She can't be trusted.

    But when she comes out of hiding to comment on an actual story, I try to listen to her. That kind of positive thinking can get me through a lot of rough times :)


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