I have a friend that has worked with many authors for a number of years, and I respect her intelligence and creativity. I e-mailed an update on what was happening in my writing life. I told her about the book that I have coming out, and how much I love it. Her response stopped me in my tracks. She said I was only the second author that she had ever met who didn’t downplay her work.
At first, I worried that I had come off as too boastful, but then she clarified that she knew I put a lot of work into this book, and she was proud of me for saying that I liked it and that I was proud of it.
I started to listen a little more closely to my author friends, and I found that so many downgrade their work. One lady who wrote about a military character pointed out how little she knew about the Army. I know that she did hours of research and interviews; however she still acted as if she didn’t think that she knew enough to write an accurate portrayal.
Why can’t we be happy or proud of our work? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about a three-page Christmas card letter or a brag post on Facebook. What I’m talking about is a simple, “I like it very much” or “I’m happy with how it turned out.” We put the work into the project, why can’t we be proud of the outcome?
As a romance writer, I write the story, then read it at least five times. My beta reader has seen it, my editor has prettied it up, and my proofreaders have argued the value (or not) of semi colons. I’ve made my cover artist pull her hair out because I’ve asked for just one more little tweak. When the book is finally published, I’ve put in hours upon hours of work into the product. I’m proud of it. I’m ready to share it with the world. I know there will be some who don’t like it or find fault, but that’s just the way it is. I believe it is perfectly all right to dislike my book, but don’t disrespect the work that went into it.
I worry that when we devalue our work, it contributes to others seeing us as lacking. I went to a huge book sale and signing five years ago. As I walked the aisles, I would stop when a book’s cover caught my eye. I was shocked at the number of authors that couldn’t describe their work in a positive light. There were so many “well it’s not” or “I don’t know if you’ll want to buy it,” that I made up the rule that if they couldn’t describe their work in a positive, coherent sentence, then I wasn’t going to buy it. If you don’t like your book, why would I want it?
This doesn’t apply to only authors and their books. I hear so many of my women friends downplaying their contributions to life. Be it great cooking, a fabulous idea, or doing something nice for another. They shrug it off or list five ways that they could have done it better. Do me a favor, just say “thank you” when I compliment you. Be honored that somebody noticed your good work and accept the compliment. Be proud of what you have produced and yourself.
I should have known better. Women like me, average and unseen, don’t have our dreams come true. And the one chance I had for my dreams, I watched die in our doorway while I hid on the stairs.
Now I spend my days terrified for my life and my nights resigned to the fact that I’ll be dead soon.
He can protect me. Forde has the reputation for handling cases that blur the line between right and wrong. Yes, he can help me, but he’s asking for too much from me – my trust, my body and for the chance to make my dreams come true.
If I could… everything would be Better.
About the Author
Melanie Jayne lives on a grain farm in central Indiana with her husband two English Mastiffs, Ginger and Duncan Keith. Still searching for what she wants to be when she grows up, she is currently writing full-time, and has worked retail, provided services in a federal courtroom, traveled across the state to close home loans and spent eight years behind the scenes at a casino.
She loves sports, reading and ridiculous TV shows. She loves to meet readers and attends many signings and conventions. Please stop by and say “hello”.
Hello Melanie Jayne! Nice to meet you. Love that dog! Beautiful. I also loved what you had to say. I have often wondered much the same thing. I know part of my personal negativity is because I have been put down for being proud. Of course I have now recognized the jealousy behind such put downs and work hard on not letting that bother me.
But yes, it is hard to be proud of what we do. I work on being positive, upbeat, and not allowing negativity to rule my life on a daily basis. I appreciate inspiring essays like this.
Good evening Melanie
I agree with you. I’m an administrative assistant and greatly enjoy what I do. I’ve been asked don’t I wish to go further and no I don’t. And, I don’t feel like I should have to justify why I don’t wish to go further.
I wish you continued success with your writing.
Thank you Delilah for having Melanie here today.