It is my pleasure to welcome Laura Boon, one of the "Roses" from The Wild Rose Press, and share her answer to my question...
ELF: What was the most difficult thing to overcome on your path to becoming a published author and how did you conquer it?
Expectations and Imposter Syndrome: Overcoming fear to become a published writer
I come from a middle-class family with high expectations of success for their daughters, the measure of success always being related to the size of one’s bank balance. Some individuals thrive on such expectations. Others rebel against them. I am paralyzed by them.
This is possibly because I am drawn toward careers that don’t scream “pathway to billionaire-dom”. I studied English, not finance, despite determined efforts to redirect my focus. I hid my desire to write because I quivered internally at the thought of saying at the family dinner table, “I’ve written this book and it’s going to be published” only to be asked, “How much are you being paid?” The answer to that question leads to discussions about starving artists in garrets and well-meaning but unhelpful encouragement to get a “real” job doing something I was not interested in, didn’t understand, and didn’t get any joy from.
Fortunately, I have a stubborn streak. I baulked at being forced into a job I didn’t want. Unfortunately, I’m not brave. Instead of throwing myself headlong into the world of creative writing, I sought out jobs around writers. I’ve worked as a bookseller, a children’s book sales rep and a book publicist. Working in the book industry has its pros and cons for an aspiring writer. I had access to the best writers in the English language, a double-edged sword. These people are real writers, I would think, I’ll never be able to write anything that good. I should just give up on the idea and stick to reading. Yet the pull remained. I could never quite give up on the vision of a novel with my name on the cover.
And then my husband and I moved to Sydney, and fate threw the Romance Writers of Australia across my path. I had found my tribe. A community of people with similar tastes, hopes and dreams where I wasn’t an imposter with ridiculous expectations. Not only are the other members of RWAus supportive and generous beyond measure, but the workshops they host demystify the craft of writing. I found my genre and my voice. I found a critique partner and then a writing group.
Under the gentle guidance of RWAus, I entered competitions, learnt from the feedback and tried again. I made the finals of a few. I pitched and was rejected, developed a thick skin and pitched again. I used my hard-won knowledge of the publishing industry to put together a list of potential publishers and agents whom I could approach. I gave myself a deadline to hear back from them and committed to self-publishing if I received no interest. I was thrilled beyond speech when I received interest and then my first contract from The Wild Rose Press.
I still feel like an imposter. Still worry that even if my editor loves my book, and readers give me good reviews, sales are the only reflection of my book – and hence my own – value. If I can’t match JK Rowling’s sales (and, really, who can?) I’m not measuring up. But I’m getting better at silencing my inner critic, disentangling the ties between value and dollars, and getting down to work. I live by a combination of “one word at a time” and “what will be, will be.”
In summary, my keys to overcoming fear are:
1) Find a supportive community to have your back through a writing center or genre-specific organization. Contribute to your community, don’t just take.
2) Avoid discussing your writing with those who put you down.
3) Don’t compare yourself or your journey to others.
4) Keep improving your skills.
5) Find out as much as you can about the industry you work in. Knowledge is power.
6) Be open to all options – traditionally published, self-published and hybrid.
7) Feel the fear and do it anyway. Julia Cameron tells the story of a student who said to her, “Do you know how old I’ll be by the time I finish (insert desired project)?” “Yes,” Cameron replied, “the same age as if you don’t finish it.”
by Laura Boon
GENRE: Contemporary romance, small town romance, novella
Licking her wounds after a bad relationship, San Diego accountant Caitlyn Summers travels to Willow Springs to help her friend gear up for the annual Maple Sugar Ball. She isn't planning on staying long, but one encounter with the delicious Corey Duncan has her re-evaluating her plans.
Corey swore off love when his wife Annie died from breast cancer. Caitlyn is too young, too citified, and vibrates with a passion and energy that will upend the safe, comfortable rhythm of his life. Corey has to choose between playing it safe and taking a risk on love. Caitlyn needs to find the patience to let Corey lead. If not, the Maple Sugar Ball might end in a sticky mess, instead of a slow dance with the man who has captured her heart.
Will their fire burn hot enough to erase doubts and past hurts?
She walked across to Corey, tucking her hair behind her right ear, unexpectedly shy at his acknowledgement. She squared her shoulders. “Hi.”
“Hey.” He stood and pulled out a chair for her, a half-smile playing on his lips. “You and I can’t avoid each other.”
She shrugged. “It’s a small town. Although you’ve looked awfully busy.” Too busy to say hello was her unspoken message. She’d let him know she was interested, and he had ignored her ever since.
Her drink arrived, and they fell silent while the waitress fussed with a coaster and peanuts.
He rubbed his hand against his chin and gazed directly into her eyes. “I’ve been a bit preoccupied, mostly with you.”
“Me?” She choked on a swig of champagne and coughed as the bubbles went down the wrong way.
He grabbed her glass and set it down before patting her on the back.
“I’m fine,” she gasped.
“Sorry. I take it that was my fault for surprising the heck out of you.”
“Why? You’re the one who kissed me.”
And why wouldn’t she when he looked so delectable? She was tempted to kiss him again, rub out the mischievous twitch to his lips. Instead she retorted, “And you’re the one who
didn’t kiss me back.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Laura Boon stole her first romance from her father’s bookshelves as a teenager, The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss, and was immediately captivated. After holding a variety of positions in publishing, from bookseller to sales rep and publicist, she eventually found the courage to write her own stories. She was born in Zambia, grew up in South Africa, and went to university in America. She now lives in Australia with her husband and their adorable dogs Beau and Arro. When she is not reading or writing, she enjoys sleuthing for artisan chocolate and beautiful stationery, watching tennis, and walking alongside Sydney’s beautiful harbor.
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