Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Time Is SO Not On My Side

Spin me right round, baby
I can’t seem to get a handle on time.

Already, it's June. June. How did we get to June? Seriously, I really don’t know how I got here. In January, it seemed so far away and suddenly – boom.

Used to be a week seemed endless, every minute taking a decade to pass by. These days, I breathe and months are gone. And now I only have two weeks.

Two. Weeks. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. Only two weeks to the national conference for Romance Writers of America – my first national conference. Yea, I am a national conference virgin. 

Two weeks.

Y’all, I am freaking out.

I’ve been preparing for months. From clothes and shoes to the web site and business cards, I’ve been prepping in one way or another since April. I’ve read what-to-do blogs and what-to-wear tweets and where-to-go e-mails. I’ve asked for advice (and given it) and made plans. I should feel like I got it going on. 

But I don’t.

Time keeps on ticking...ticking...ticking
It’s the book, you see. The first draft is done. I’m in the middle of deep revisions. I spent the entire Memorial Day holiday weekend locked up with my laptop and ended each day feeling as though none of the work was good enough. How can my tripe possibly be held up against the extraordinary work currently bouncing around Romancelandia?

I feel pressure building on the back of my neck, pressure to get it right. I’ve trapped myself in a spiral of self expectation that I can never hope to satisfy. I want my debut book to burn across the tweet verse; I want writers and reviewers I admire to declare it one of their favorite reads. I want it to be feted and demanded and memorable. I want it to be the next Dragon Bound, the next Iron Duke, the next Nine Rules, never mind that I don’t even write in any of those genres. I’m caged in a self made prison of unrealistic want.

Under the siege
And yet, I am pragmatic. I’ve done my homework. I know the numbers and the stakes and the lottery odds of even being published in the first place.  Hell, I have a degree in publishing. I know. And I’m well aware that these are juvenile desires, my ID raging free unchecked. Still, I am hobbled by my own oversized expectations because the work can never, ever live up to them and so I rewrite and rewrite in a compulsive need to get the right dialogue, the right tone, the right response.

Did I mention the whole freaking out thing?

Agent Rachelle Gardner writes a wonderful blog about the life of a literary agent called Rants and Ramblings. Her post yesterday included the following (it’s a long quote but worth it):
It’s that very insecurity that will drive you to keep growing, keep learning, [and] be the best you can be. Lately I’ve been quoting the famous yoga teacher BKS Iyengar to my clients. He said, ‘The moment you say ‘I have got it,’ you have lost everything you had…The moment you say ‘I am satisfied with that,’ stagnation has come. That is the end of your learning; you have closed the windows of your intellect.’ If you believe that, then you see that we really need to look at writing and publishing as a journey, and take from it what we can while we are in the middle of it. It’s part of our larger process of growing and developing as people; it is not a question of ‘arriving’ but more a discipline of figuring out how to keep going. Don’t worry about yourself when you’re feeling insecure or even hateful toward your writing. Accept it as part of your journey; ask yourself what it means, how it can spur you on, what it drives you toward. Let yourself feel satisfied for brief moments, then go back to the natural state of the writer: insecure, frustrated, [and] driven.

So, according to Rachelle, I’m right on track.

Yesterday, after a weekend spent immersed in the romance writing community, first at the Long Island Romance Writers annual luncheon (wonderful) then at the monthly meeting of the Liberty States Fiction Writers, I came to this conclusion: 

Nobody is going to like this book. 

What a freeing revelation! If nobody is going to like it, then there’s no reason not to write whatever the hell I want, to stop questioning every click of my keyboard and to simply write the best book I have in me. If it doesn’t light up the tweet verse, fine. If it doesn’t blow the expectations of every agent and editor who reads it, that’s OK. If it gets vilified on high-traffic romance review sites, bring it on. I’ll write what needs to come out of my fingers, what my soul demands should be on the page.

Absolutely no pressure.

The tick tock, the ticking to the tock tock
I’m going to blow the roof off RWA. Not because I’ve got the best book or have the greatest platform or know the right insiders (which is good, cause I really don’t), but because one, I am a ridiculously social creature and two, I love romance. And in two weeks, I’ll get to spend a week in the company of 2200 people who love it too.


Oh, I'm still freaking out. 

That just means I’m doing it right.

Are you going to Nationals? What are you most looking forward to doing/seeing? Are you planning a siege of workshops for craft or a networking extravaganza?

If you will be at Nationals – be sure to look for me and come up and introduce yourself!

Probably a good idea to start at the bar.


  1. I love this blog post. Unfortunately, I'm not going to be going to National (color me jealous in a few weeks!), but I can completely relate to everything you mention here. It's nice to know I'm not alone. ;)

    Have an awesome time and don't freak out...much. :)

    Beth-Ann / BKwrites

  2. Beth -
    Thank you! So glad my neuroses gave you encouragement. :-)

  3. Don't stress yourself out. You're going to be great and have a blast. Plus, you'll have tons of old pros around to help you out if you have questions.

    See you soon!


  4. You sound prepared to me. I haven't even looked at the conference schedule yet. Or bought clothes for it. Probably not going to either, just "shop" in my closet and probably pack the day I'm scheduled to leave. I can't keep my head above water these days. There is no planning ahead. Talk about living in the moment. Ack!

  5. You sound prepared to me. I haven't even looked at the conference schedule yet. Or thought about clothes to wear. Seems I can't keep my head above water these days. Never mind about planning ahead. Will probably end up packing on the day I'm scheduled to leave. It's sad, but lately I've been giving a whole new meaning to "living in the moment." Ack!

  6. Sorry about the double post. Thought my first one got eaten.

    word verification: cornme


  7. Kathy -
    So nice, you commented twice! A lot of my prep had to do with finances. I simply couldn't afford to dump it all in one pay period, which meant planning ahead. Plus, couldn't do new business cards without first doing the website and, as I know you know, that sucker takes major time, don't let anyone (cough Rayna cough) tell you different! ;-0

  8. You rock my tweetverse already. So anything you write is bound to get at least a thumbs up from me. Unless it's a put down, but even then...

    Anyhoot! I will not be attending National nor have I attended one yet. But I hope to remedy that in 2012. Have fun and just know that your thoughts are similar to the rest of us unpublished beauties. You will be fabulous, I just know it!

  9. Landra - That's very sweet of you to say. I've already put in for the time off next year to go to Anaheim. That week after conference 2012 will include my 40th birthday, so the celebrating, it will be WILD. ;-)

  10. I said a website could be easy, but not necessarily quick. LOL!


  11. Hey Kiersten,
    Doesn't appear my last comment posted. Guess I need to finalize my plans for clothing etc. I can't believe it is less than 2 weeks from now. Where did the 1H '11 go anyway? Looking forward to seeing you there and of course to the LSFW dinner with the rest of the wonderful gang. See you there! All 3 of me ;-)
    Monica / MJ Liming / Monique Parrett

  12. 1. You used y'all two blogs in a row. Stop it.
    2. You do your best work under pressure. If I know you, and I do, you won't get much done this week either because you'll be freaking out about it. But next week? Next week better watch out. It's all you, Babe. You'll be all polished and ready to go and be discovered. Even if it's the night before nationals. You've got this. You always do. <3
    3. BUY the bagels.
    XOXO mwah!!

  13. MJ - you having a personality conflict there? How many names you got? ;-)

    Can't wait to see you and everyone else there!

  14. I am guffawing over here. Thought of you when on the phone with my roommate last night and she asked me "Can we get bagels while I'm there?" (She's from LA).

    Thanks lovie. Y'all are too good to me. ;-)

  15. Hah, Kiersten--I'm a Nationals virgin myself, as I think I mentioned at the LSF conference.

    I just keep buying stuff to stave off the jitters!

  16. Rosemary - retail therapy is a time honored success in these matters! ;-)