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Danielle Haas

Mother of two, Writer of romance novels, Lover of wine

Month

October 2016

The Nature Of The Beast

There are a few phrase I’ve been introduced to since I’ve started writing and trying to get published. I’m sure every other person out there who is writing have heard these, and I’m sure you all groan and mutter under your breath a few choice words when you hear them. One that I’ve heard over and over again is that writing is subjective. Ugh! It makes me want to pull my hair out!

I never realized how much I crave validation until I put my writing out there to be judged. Validation, I’m somewhat ashamed to say, is something I’ve never had to actively seeked. I’ve never had to because it’s always been freely given to me. Whether it was my grades, my work, my relationship-I’ve always had someone telling me I’m doing a great job. In school I always got good grades. Whenever I was working, my job performance was usually remarked upon and rated highly. My husband has always made me feel loved, and even though there are low point in motherhood I know I have two great kids who are well-behaved and happy. That doesn’t happen by accident. I know I’ve done a great job in these areas of my life because, well, people have told me so. I take pride in this. I am a hard worker and am dedicated to giving my best in everything I do.

But somehow, I now find myself craving validation that I haven’t been able to find. I feel like my daughter who is constantly saying, “Look at me mom! Aren’t I doing a great job!” Yes honey, you are so good at standing on one foot. I’ve never seen anyone ever do it that well.

I’ve been on a bit of a contest binge lately. I’ve entered PitchWars, PitchSlam, PitMad, and Nightmare on Query Street all within the last couple months. I also entered a writing contest through RWA. I have not gotten into any of them. Ive met great people, I’ve received some nice words of encouragement, and even  gotten a little validation that I’m on the right path with changes I’ve made. I’ve gotten so close…but still so far away. And through it all I’ve heard over and over and over, please remember writing is subjective.

Today I had a breakthrough. I didn’t win a contest, I didn’t land an agent. Instead, I was sent an email with my judging scores to a contest I entered last month. I’ve heard this particular contest is judged pretty harshly, and I can’t say I was surprised when I wasn’t a finalist. But I was interested to see what the judges had to say. The first judge (a contestant finalist) had some very nice words, as well as good suggestions on making improvements. My scores were slightly above average in all categories, and my overall score was a 34.5 out of 45. I was good with this. The second judge (An RWA pro and trained judge) made very little comments in my entry. I opened my score sheet expecting them to be low. There were wonderful comments about how she didn’t want to stop reading and would highly recommend my work to a friend. She loved it! My score…45 out of 45!

Here it was, subjective judging smacking me in the face! Two industry professionals looking at the exact same thing. One of them liked it but thought it needed improvement, and one of them freaking loved it! My first scores were good (at least in my eyes) but my second scores were amazing! I felt validation rushing through me. Finally! I might not have been a finalist in the contest, but I knew one judge would have at least liked me to be.

So what does this one score from a random judge really mean to my writing career? Didly squat! But, it gave me a boost of confidence I’ve been desperately needing. I’m going to ride this rush of excitement as far as it will take me, maybe all the way to publication.

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It’s All Worth It In The End

My daughter has hit the age where she now asks for every single toy she sees on commercials. Not just commercials on the TV, but also the silly videos she likes to watch on YouTube. It’s driving me crazy! The rule in our house has always been no presents unless it’s your birthday, Christmas, or a special occasion. This has worked well, and has eliminated the problem of having her beg for toys every time we go somewhere. This is no longer the case. My husband and I have decided to implement a new system where she can earn her own money, and can then buy whatever she wants with what she earns. There are now two glass jars sitting in my kitchen. One is filled with the sparkly buttons she picked out, the other is Tootsie’s jar. Every chore she completes, every dinner she eats (Dinner time has turned into a nightmare lately!), and every kind gesture she makes earns her one button for her jar. Each button equals 25 cents, and can be cashed in at the end of the week. Also, bad behavior and bad choices result in losing a button.

So far, this system has been awesome! She has eaten her dinner without complaint and is constantly trying to find new ways to make money. I’m a little afraid we have created a monster. She wants a button for plugging in her IPod, for grabbing cheese from the fridge, or cleaning off the exact same spot on her rocking chair. We still have a few wrinkles to iron out. But the one thing that stands out in my minds is how hard she is trying to earn these buttons so she can then buy what she wants. And she’s happy to do it. She might not enjoy doing the chores or being so nice to her brother, but she knows it’s going to be worth it in the long run.

I recently finished a major rewrite on my first MS. I had received amazing feedback from a senior editor from a small publishing house, and I needed to make some changes before I resubmitted to her. God decided to do me a solid and put me in the path of someone who would become an invaluable CP and a great friend. She worked with me for a couple months to turn the story that I love into a book I am completely proud of. The edits were beyond time consuming and just plain hard. Day after day, night after night, I popped my chapters up on my computer and worked. I felt like my kids weren’t getting the attention they deserved, my dog needed a walk, and my house was the dirtiest it’s been. If I would have known how hard it was to get my MS into the shape it needed to be in, I admit I don’t know if I would have started the process at all. But now that it’s done, I realize how amazing it was!

Not only is my MS SOOO much better, but I learned so much! Going forward, I know things to do or not to do in my writing. I’ve learned how to critique other people’s work in return, and most importantly I’ve learned that it’s not selfish for me to take the time I need to better myself and my work. If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy right? A question was brought to my attention recently regarding how my husband views my writing. Does he look at what I do as a hobby or as a business venture? Scott being Scott, he couldn’t just answer the damn question. He told me that he liked it better when I treated my writing like a hobby. He said when I wasn’t so concerned with getting published, I seemed happier. He said I wasn’t so stressed out and so consumed with editing and improving my MS, and that I seemed to enjoy it more when I was in the moment and just working on creating the story that’s brewing in my mind.

He’s right (Yes babe, if you’re reading this, I admit it), I am the happiest when I’m just working on my WIP. When I’m just pounding the keys without a care in the world for how it’s coming it. But, I could never even imagine how satisfied and proud I would be after spending so much effort on polishing up something I already loved so much. Just like Tootsie and her buttons, the work that’s not always the most fun is made tolerable when you knowing it’s going to pay off in the end. Even if the payoff is only a 25 cent button.

 

How the hell do you do it all?

I’m sitting in the bathroom while watching my son play in the bathtub. I am silently praying he doesn’t poop, yet again, in the tub as I sit here typing on my computer. You see, that’s exactly what he did a few weeks ago when I was trying to get him washed, enter PitchSlam, pack myself and both children up for the weekend, and leave my house on time to pick my daughter up from preschool. My little Spud Muffin decided it would be the perfect time to poop in the bathtub so I could add bleaching the tub and cleaning his toys to my ever increasing list of things to accomplish.

I logged on here today and was shocked when it told me my last post was made 23 days ago. 23 days?! I was doing so well there for awhile. Once a week I was on here, making sure to put my insightful words of wisdom down for all to read. Then bam, 23 days go by and I haven’t so much as wondered what my next post would be about. Life happened and I just haven’t had the time or desire to figure it out.

For the first time since I had my daughter over four years ago, I feel like there’s not enough time in the day to get things done. Where once my house was spotless and my child was given fun and intellectual activities to do all day, I now I see a house that is in desperate need of cleaning and a daughter who watches way too much YouTube. I have a MS that needs revising, I have CP’s who are sending me chapters to go over, and I have a WIP that has lain dormant for months now. I simply can’t do it all. If I give my attention to one area, I feel like I’m neglecting another. And yet nothing seems to be getting the time it needs. It’s a little overwhelming.

I know this is not a new feeling, but it’s a new feeling for me. I don’t like it. But I know I need to get used to it. Before I started writing, my life was completely and 100% devoted to being the best mother and wife I could possibly be. I still want to be the best in those areas, but now a new area is sneaking into the forefront of my mind. I want to be the best writer I can be, I want to be the best CP I can be to the amazing people who are giving their time and expertise to me as well. I want to get published. I want to be successful. I want to have it all and I want to do it all. I’m lucky that I have a husband who supports me in this and doesn’t complain about cooking a meal here and there, or helping out around the house. (Ok, maybe he mentions the ironing haha) I’m also lucky to have two children who are very self-reliant and can occupy themselves when mommy needs to get stuff done. I just hope one day they grow up and see how much mommy worked to fulfill every dream she had, not the days she turned on YouTube and let them rot their brains.

Maybe one day I’ll figure out how to get all my ducks in a row and devote all the time I need to in all the areas in my life. Maybe one day I’ll just get a nanny to entertain my kids for a few hours while I work and it will ease the guilt a bit. For now, I’m just happy there’s no poop in the bathtub.

 

 

 

 

 

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