Dreams Don’t Die, They Simply Change, and That’s Okay

dreams don't die 1

One of my first childhood dreams for my future was when I was somewhere between eight and nine and just knew that I was going to be a New York Time’s Best Selling Author by the age of thirty. Needless to say that has not yet come true and I am almost forty. I spent a lot of time last year continuing work on my novels all while submitting other novels to various agents. I got a rejection letter from almost all of them (some still haven’t responded yet, which I suppose is a response in itself) but they weren’t the regular form rejection letters. They were all nice and complimentary of how well my writing is and how the story sounded intriguing yet it was not particularly what they were looking for. There were a few who even made some suggestions of certain areas of the story in which to make it a little stronger but still making sure to let me know that they thought I had great potential of getting traditionally published down the road.

I suppose that the fact that they didn’t send back something generic and formal and actually took time out of their already busy schedules to personalize my rejection a little more means something but in the end a rejection is still just that. I’m not going to lie, I was beginning to doubt myself and my writing ability just a little bit but then I decided that this year was going to be the year of no excuses and I was not going to let someone else’s approval stop me from putting my work out there. Truthfully, that I’m not further along in my career as a published novelist (and not just someone with about four or five novels just sitting completed on a flash drive) is my own fault.

My first time being published was back in 2010, and it was by a small publishing house, and if I look back now I honestly wasn’t ready for the business part of being a published novelist. I was also a little too excited and a little too naïve in thinking that this small publishing house would do the same things as a traditional publishing house, in terms of marketing and publicity. I wasn’t really knowledgeable about social media and how best to use it to market myself and when it came to promoting my own book, well I tended to shy away from putting myself out there. I know more about social media now as opposed to what I knew then and I think I am more ready now then I was then to be published.

You know they say be careful what you ask for because you just might get it and in terms of receiving something that you’re simply not ready for yet, that saying couldn’t be more true. I used to tell people that I regretted my first experience with publishing because I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t know what I had gotten into when I signed with that small publishing house. It wasn’t a very successful experience and I had expected to just be able to write and let someone else handle the rest. That was misguided thinking but now those lessons that that experience taught me are priceless.

Now, because of that experience, as I get ready to reenter the arena as a published author by publishing my own work, I understand all of the work that the process will entail and while I am not yet a marketing or social media genius, I am substantially better at it then I was then and what I don’t know or understand I am prepared to research and learn. I was smart enough then to make sure that I got my rights back to my novel that was published back then in a reasonable time and I plan on republishing that novel (possibly renaming it what I wanted to name it to begin with) because I still believe in the story that lied within those pages.

We tend to waste time trying to control things that are not within our control instead of focusing on what is. We do ourselves a great disservice when we hold onto the notion that we can somehow go back and change the mistakes that we made before. Sometimes we have to learn how to let go of the dream that we started out with and grab on to the dream that has bloomed where the old one once was. Now I’m not saying that I don’t still desire to be published with a traditional publishing house but this is the year of no excuses right, so to waste time waiting for that to happen when I have ISBN #’s waiting to be used for my own novels would be pointless. The things I dreamed for myself ten or fifteen years ago aren’t really gone, they’ve just morphed into newer, bolder dreams that require me to have the courage to let what once was go and grab onto what can be now. Are you ready to let go of the dreams that didn’t survive your past and grab onto the dreams of your future?

Jimmetta Carpenter

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The Year of No Excuses

The Year of No Excuses

It’s a New Year now with new possibilities and more hopes for a better year than the last. The first day of the year really does feel like you’re getting a fresh start. It seems like this year truly feels like the time to take further risks, no holds barred type of risks. I’m more of a risk averse person but I know that given the visions and dreams that I have for my future, avoiding risks is never going to do me any good.

I read Shonda Rhimes book, A Year of Yes, the year before last and after reading it I really wanted to be able to take the bull by the horns and say yes to everything that came my way. However, I really wasn’t in the position to say yes to everything that I wanted to say yes to, and I wasn’t really sure if saying yes to everything would have the same effect on my life as it did for Ms. Rhimes. This past year however, through the magic that is social media, I saw on a friends Facebook page that she had made 2018 her year of yes and she truly committed herself to leaving no opportunity untapped. Of course she had moments that were scary, moments that pushed her far out of her comfort zone and frankly it was a really beautiful thing to watch, even if only through the lens of social media.

Now here was someone who wasn’t Shonda Rhimes (but maybe the next Shonda), having one of the best years of her life all because she was saying yes instead of no. I had a flash of what it might be like for me to be able to say yes to every single little opportunity that has come or will come my way and thought to myself that maybe it was time for my year of yes. Then the reality of the fact that I’m still not quite in the position to say yes to everything, just yet. A Year of Yes is a nice notion if you have endless financial means, or at least unstrained anyway. So it got me to thinking about starting smaller. Now I could just resign to the fact that I just can’t do the Year of Yes this year and leave it at that and just simply say that I will try my best but that’s not what I’m going to do. I’m making this my year of no excuses on my way to my Year of Yes.

I know that they might sound similar but my premise is that maybe I can’t make it to Atlanta to attend a writer’s conference in the summer time that I’ve been wanting to attend for the last couple of years now, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t instead drive to a writer’s conference somewhere closer to where I live that won’t drain my finances. I haven’t yet been able to secure myself an agent for my novels (and the rejection letters have really been piling up in my inbox) but there’s nothing really stopping me from going ahead and beginning the self-publishing process and taking that leap to put my own work out there. Sure it wasn’t the way that I had imagined it would happen but why should I keep letting that stop me.

One of the scariest things that I am doing this year is starting a YouTube channel. Not only will it take me extremely out of my comfort zone, but it will push my boundaries in the technology area which I’m not really all that great at and quite frankly I’m terrified that I won’t be any good at it and that no one will want to watch but I’m going for it. While it’s a big step for me I’m just jumping into it and the not knowing how things are going to turn out is a little nerve wracking but no excuses right.

I’ve become a pro at making excuses for why something can’t happen so it’s really time for me to take the leap of faith that say I have in myself and my abilities and just go for it all. I mean I couldn’t fall on my face any flatter than I’ve already fallen in the past right so why not. So maybe I won’t be able to say yes to all the things that I want to do this year but that is no excuse that I can’t find a way to make things happen that will get me closer to that yes for next year. So here’s to the Year of no excuses and making things happen. Even if they have to be a slight variation to the yes we want, it can be the yes that we need to keep moving forward. Here’s to a brand new year with a brand new mindset! Whether you are having a year of Yes or a year of no excuses, take a leap of faith with me! Let’s do this!

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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I May Have Been Down but I was Never Out

Down but Not Out

So let’s talk about failure! I hate to fail and what’s ironic is that though I hate to fail I seem to be doing a lot of it. Granted, I don’t view everything that has happened in my life as failures but I have failed enough times to make anyone want to just lie down and give up. In fact, I think that a lot of this past year and half long bout with depression was pretty much just that, me being so tired of failing that I just wanted to lie down and accept defeat.

Writing is definitely not for the faint of heart and rejection is a part of the package that comes with this career but sometimes it can feel so jarring to one’s self-esteem and confidence in their own abilities. I’ve been shopping my novels around to different agents and while I’ve had some of them ask to see the whole novel, which in itself can be cause to celebrate, in the end I have not been received with the kind of acceptance that I crave and truly thought I was talented enough to get. Logically I know that being rejected by a publisher or an agent is not a personal attack on my abilities but as most of you writers know, your novels tend to feel like your babies and my work is personal for me because I always add a touch of myself into my characters (well my main characters anyway).

But I’m learning, or rather remembering that my failures are not what is going to define my eventual success. In reality, my failures are what is going to propel me forward into my destined prosperity. These are the moments that will build me up and make me stronger so that I can be better and excel further than even I thought possible. I’ve always heard that when we plan, God laughs and he must be really laughing it up at me because since the age of ten I’ve had some pretty big plans for my life and career. I had milestones, in my mind, that I just knew that I was going to hit at just the time I envisioned hitting them, some I even thought I would hit earlier than I expected. I couldn’t have been more wrong and being that wrong is just plain hurtful.

However, if some of those plans had come to pass there would be a lot of other wonderful moments that I wouldn’t have had happen, mainly my daughter being born, and I could never regret her. Failure doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can be, in many cases, what protects us from a disaster right around the corner. In other cases it can just be the sign to let you know that while you may be going in the right direction, you’re not quite ready just yet. There are lessons in the failures that we go through but sometimes what matters is not the actual act of failing itself but rather what those failures can add to our overall story.

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

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I Hear No Differently

hearing no differently

I get so tired of hearing no.  For some people, when they hear No they hear a challenge and it stirs within them motivation. That’s what you should hear when people tell you No.  But that’s not what I hear.

I hear rejection over and over again.  I hear me putting myself out there and putting my heart all in it for nothing.  I hear you’re never going to be as good as them so why bother trying.  I hear you’re never going to be good enough for anyone.  I hear you’re not worthy and you have no value.  It wasn’t always that way.  I used to get fired up by a no and it instilled a desire to prove people wrong.

However, somewhere along the way it weakened me and certain people’s negative words and opinions of me started to seem like they may have had some merit to them.  The negatives began to outweigh the positives and I bought into it.  I keep hearing other people’s success stories and how they heard nothing but no’s until finally that one yes happened that impacted their lives forever.  I read those stories and I think “where the hell is my yes?”

I’ll admit that the better part of last year I literally just gave up (whew, there I said it).  The no’s just bogged me down and sent me into a state of depression and I just didn’t feel like fighting for my dream anymore.  I started to fabricate in my mind that the no’s were a sign telling me that this just wasn’t meant for me and maybe I’m not a talented enough writer to really make it.  I just wasn’t motivated anymore.

The negatives became more believable than the positives because there were just not enough positives to go on.  I kept waiting for something to happen, perhaps a yes would just fall into my lap because I felt like I could no longer just keep putting in my all only to get back nothing.  Luckily for me, my love and passion for writing and for seeing all of my dreams come to fruition never died.  It remained just as strong as it had ever been, it just got pushed down by all of the negative stuff that I was letting cloud my head.

As I stated in my previous post I have recently come to some realizations about myself and in reevaluating a lot of things, truths that weren’t clear and obvious to me before, I see that the yeses weren’t coming because I never truly believed they would.  If I wasn’t going to believe in me how could I expect anyone else to?

Self-evaluation can be really good for you and in my case it kind of woke me up to all of the opportunities that I was missing out on because I didn’t really believe I was good enough to receive them.  I was sabotaging myself with my own self-doubt.  I’m not saying that I won’t still have my days where the doubt creeps in there.  But now that I can see clearer what I was doing to my own dreams I am more aware of what needs to be done to get the yeses that I know I deserve to hear.

Of course there will be more no’s along with way but I have to keep in mind that if I hear a no it’s because God has something better and that it wasn’t for me to begin with.  Are your own doubts and fears getting the better of you too?  Just keep in mind that every door is not meant for you to open.

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

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Nobody Likes to Feel the Sting of Rejection

sting of rejection

I don’t think that there is a single person (at least not one that I’ve know) who likes to be rejected.  It is not something that you look forward to and most people would avoid all instances that would mean that there was a guarantee that they will be rejected.  As a writer, it is almost inevitable (unless you are extremely lucky) that you will be rejected in your career at some point, whether it be with the submission of an article, a blog post, a short story, a novel to a publisher, or even by an agent that you want to represent you.  As a writer you have to be prepared to be rejected, so much so that you should probably just prepare a box for the stacks of rejection letters that you are bound to receive.

Being as though it is almost June and six months into the year that I thought was really going to be a turnaround year for me I’ve been looking over all of my lists of things I was supposed to accomplish this year.  I was supposed to live a more fearless life this year and I was supposed to have a more productive year.  Looking at my list and just how little I am able to check off, I would say that I have not lived up to my own expectations for the year thus far.

A big part of my list was to submit my next novel to agents and publishers and also to start submitting more articles to local newspapers.  A huge part of the reason that I have yet to submit my work is because I fear the rejection letters that I will be sent.  I know that you are not supposed to assume that your work will be rejected but it is really hard not to prepare for the worst instead of hoping for the best.  The thought of someone saying my work isn’t good enough is like someone telling me that I am not good enough and that is what hold me back.

I was reading the Writer’s Digest magazine and in the back of every issue they highlight a rejection letter to a famous author (when they weren’t so famous) and you get to see that even the authors that are seen as the greatest authors of all have been rejected.  I have read many of these letters but the one that shocked me the most to read was the one I read for Charles Dickens “Great Expectations”.  In it the editor essentially called his work boring and too descriptive, on top of telling Charles Dickens that he was seemingly a pervert and that this novel was only good for burning in a fireplace.

I felt like it was so harsh and by far the worst one I have seen but it also made me think, “well it had to be worth something in this editor’s eyes because this letter was so personal for it to be a rejection letter.”  You could tell by reading it that this was not a book that (as bored as she said she was with it) the editor just read for a little bit and got midway through and then tossed it in the rejection pile.  Details mentioned in the rejection letter suggested that they apparently thought enough of it to read it all the way through.  It was exactly the kind of rejection letter that I had always said I never wanted but now I’m not so sure.

In reality I should be looking at rejection letters as a statement of what it would say about me.  It would say that I put myself out there, as difficult as it is to be vulnerable, I would have been brave and fearless about my work.  In some cases rejection letters (when personalized instead of generic) means that someone thought enough of your work to actually write the rejection letter with their own personal touches.  If even the greatest authors have been rejected, what would make me any different?  I have to get past that fear because it is only holding me back even further.

The sting of rejection is what you have to come to grips with when you are willing to take risks.  Otherwise, all that means is that you never took the risk.  Sure that means that you won’t have to worry about feeling rejected, but you also won’t run the risk of actually being accepted either.

Everything is a risk in life, not just the bad but the good as well.  You can never really enjoy the good that is due to come your way unless you are willing to accept the possibility of things turning out bad.  So the next time I feel that fear of rejection when I want to submit my work, I am also going to put into perspective the good that I might be inviting my way as well.

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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Writing as “Jaycee Durant”

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Write 2 Be Magazine is now out so please go check it out at http://write2bemagazine.com/.  Also please go and join the magazine on twitter https://twitter.com/write2bemag, join the email listing for the magazine or submit a request for an author interview at Write2bemagazine@yahoo.com, and also like the Write 2 Be Magazine fan page https://www.facebook.com/Write2BeMagazine.  Please help support my endeavor and my new journey and help me spread the word about Write 2 Be and its meaning.

5 Ways to Beat the Fear You Fight Everyday as a Writer

facing your fear 2

I used to think (when I was a much younger writer) that all of the really great writers wrote fearlessly.  I used to believe that all of the work that the great novelists produced was flawless and perfect from their start until the finished product when it landed on the bookshelves.  It never would have dawned on me that writers like Steven King, Terry McMillan, James Patterson, or Sue Grafton just produced excellent first drafts and that they felt no fear at all on whether or not they would be able to get their work published.

Of course now I realize that even the greatest writers were once amateurs or first time novelists once upon a time and that someone had told them no too.  It’s easy to think that you are the only one that is afraid of doing what you love but the fact is that you are not.  Fear strikes us all, true enough in different ways, but we are all hit with it from time to time, some more than others.

I seem to be one of those people that is paralyzed by it more so than others but I am working on that.  I thought of some strategies that I have learned over the years and a couple that I am still trying to put into practice that help me to work on facing those fears instead of burying my head in the sand.

  1. Face the Fear You Feel Head On— The usual response to something that you are afraid of is to run from it as fast and as far away as you can.  You can’t to rely on the comfort zone that you have set up for yourself, that place where you know every answer is going to be yes and everyone is going to like whatever it is you do.  Where’s the fun in that, or the challenge for that matter.  Comfort may be good for a short period of time but it becomes mundane and frankly boring.  Do the things that scare you because they are the things that will bring the most rewards.
  2. Let the Rejection That You Fear Fuel Your Drive— Okay it is a given (unless you are the world’s most perfect writer) that you will indeed receive rejection letters in your career.  Instead of shying away from doing things that will get you a rejection letter, do them anyway and celebrate the fact that someone actually took the time to write you that rejection letter because while what you’ve submitted may not have been right for them at the time they saw something in your work that resulted in them sending you a letter.  When you think about it, they could have just tossed your work and not sent you anything. For every one rejection letter you get, send out ten more query letters.  Let those rejection letters do more than just pile up on the corner of your desk.
  3. Know That If You Weren’t Afraid, It Wouldn’t Be Worth It— If you weren’t passionate about your work and it didn’t mean so much to you then you wouldn’t be so afraid of failing at it.  Things that mean something to us, things that we know we are good at and that we are supposed to be doing, they’re scary.  God forbid you fail at the one thing that you feel deep in your soul you are supposed to be doing with your life.  What then?  The thing is that you can’t let that fear paralyze you into just not moving forward.  Take that fear as a sign that you are, in fact, walking the right path.
  4. Reflect and Refresh—When you are feeling like your work isn’t good enough, take out all of your old work.  Look at all of the things you’ve written over the years and how much your writing has grown.  Every now and then I do this and I find myself saying “wow, I wrote that” or even “I’ve gotten so much better”.  Sometimes when you reflect on your works of the past you have no choice but to acknowledge how much you’ve grown in your work and it motivates you.  It propels you forward with that knowledge of knowing your potential to produce greatness.
  5. Just Sit Down and Do It—Fear, or writer’s block as it is most often referred to (okay sometimes it really is writer’s block but not most of the time) has a knack for stopping you from producing anything.  Sooner or later you get so scared that you will be rejected that you end up just not writing.  This is not going to help you.  Fear or no fear, just sit down in that chair, open up that computer, and start writing.  Even if you think that it’s bad writing, it’s still writing nonetheless.  Write anyway!

Maybe one or more of these ideas will help you tackle that fear that keeps holding you back.  I know that it is something that I am still working on to this day but I really think that these strategies will be a step in the right direction.  If you have any strategies for overcoming your fears as a writer please share them with me.  It never hurts to have enough ammunition to battle the fear with!

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

The Diary: Succession of Lies (Now Available)

Writing as “Jaycee Durant”

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Write 2 Be Magazine is now out so please go check it out at http://write2bemagazine.com/.  Also please go and join the magazine on twitter https://twitter.com/write2bemag, join the email listing for the magazine or submit a request for an author interview at Write2bemagazine@yahoo.com, and also like the Write 2 Be Magazine fan page https://www.facebook.com/Write2BeMagazine.  Please help support my endeavor and my new journey and help me spread the word about Write 2 Be and its meaning.

Live In the Moment of Resilience

There are a lot of things that you must be to make it as an artists’, particularly a writer.  Patience, courage, diligence, and perseverance, those are just a few of the qualities that someone who goes down the road of creativity is going to need to possess.  However, the most necessary quality, the one that you absolutely can not do without in the creative field, is resilience.

You have to be able to bounce back from whatever comes your way, no matter what.  It’s not the way that you fall that matters, it’s the way that you pull yourself back up.  Think about the stories that you hear of the people who have succeeded.  What’s the most memorable thing about their story?  It’s the struggle that they went through to get to their success.

From J.K. Rowlings state of poverty and her dozens of rejections before she became one of the world’s richest women with her Harry Potter Series, to Tyler Perry’s homelessness and empty seats in a theater before owning his own multi-billion dollar production company.  What you remember just as much as the way that they succeeded is what they went through to get there.

I was watching the television interview that actress Valerie Harper (from The Mary Tyler Moore Show) gave on the Doctors show the other day when she came on to discuss her diagnosis of terminal brain cancer.  She wanted to show to the rest of the world that she was okay and that while she remained realistic about the time given to her (3 months to a year) to live, she also has not given up hope.

I watched in awe, and not just because I loved her on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Rhoda Show and I think she’s awesome, but because she was just so brave and so inspiring.  I don’t know that I could be smiling if a doctor told me that I have a limited time left to be on this earth.

She said one thing (well there were many) that really stuck with me, “don’t go to the funeral before the day of the funeral.”  That applies to every aspect of life but just as a writer, as someone who thrives off of creativity, I had to apply it to the artists’ world.  You know that there are going to be rejections, but let’s not claim that rejection before it happens.  There are going to be moments of defeat, but before the moment that we are defeated, let’s not live in that defeat.

There will be disappointments, times when our expectations aren’t met, both by other people and ourselves.  There are going to be struggles so hard that we are going to assume that we can’t get past them, moments when we want to just throw up our hands and say I surrender.  Those are the moments that we have to remind ourselves of why we are doing this in the first place.

We’re waiting for that yes, for that feeling of being on cloud nine because everything we ever imagined for ourselves is finally becoming a reality.  That is what drives us to continually getting back up and we have to keep reminding ourselves of that.  We must keep getting back up.  We have to live in the moment that is now so that we can keep reaching for the destiny that awaits us.  Let’s not ever forget, even when we are being told no, that there is a yes waiting if we keep getting up.  Getting knocked down is inevitable, let’s just remember to always bounce back!

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

The Diary: Succession of Lies (Now Available)

Writing as “Jaycee Durant”

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Write 2 Be Magazine is now out so please go check it out at http://write2bemagazine.com/.  Also please go and join the magazine on twitter https://twitter.com/write2bemag, join the email listing for the magazine or submit a request for an author interview at Write2bemagazine@yahoo.com, and also like the Write 2 Be Magazine fan page https://www.facebook.com/Write2BeMagazine.  Please help support my endeavor and my new journey and help me spread the word about Write 2 Be and its meaning.