Getting My Butt Kicked

Susan-Mermaid-avatar As I’ve always said before, I generally avoid New Year’s resolutions.  This year, for a change, I made several:

–       I will join a critique group

–       I will allow myself to mentor someone, and ask for a mentor

–       I will submit material for publication

At the January meeting of CTRWA, I was right there with the club’s critique group.  We found much to say about each other’s work (both pro and con) and left feeling we’d encouraged each other in the best ways.  Resolution One:  check.

Also in January, responded to the semi-annual offer of matching Yodas and Grasshoppers.  Don’t laugh – our most accomplished writers are called Obi-Wans.  However, with the snag of a badly typed email address, I didn’t make the deadline for getting matched.  The coordinator felt badly for me and offered herself up, saying she didn’t feel she was Yoda status yet, but was willing to try.

Resolution Two: check.  Mentor achieved, and by the skin of my teeth.  But what an experience.  It has already changed my life.

You see, Joy asked an interesting question: what did I want from a Yoda? She had already joined the critique group, so she knew my writing.  (A side-resolution: I would be honest in my answer)

“I want someone to kick my butt.”

She wanted to see the synopsis for the book I was closest to finishing (not the one I was working on).  The next day, I had an email:  “We must meet.  This week.  When are you available?”  We settled on Sunday afternoon.

As luck would have it, I had a car accident on Friday.  Spent Saturday feeling like someone had squeezed all my back and shoulder muscles into one big knot (I’mostly fine now.  Really).  On Sunday, I asked Himself to drive me to the meeting spot in Connecticut, where my mentor was going to kick said butt.

I’d already told him he was NOT to sit with us.  Even though he’s a writer.

Thus, my husband of nearly 34 years found a table nearby, placed his lunch order and opened his Kindle.

Ninety minutes later, Joy said something I don’t remember ever hearing:  “I don’t need to see your chapters.  I already know from what I read in critique group, and from your synopsis, that you can write.”  And she asked a question I’d never had to answer before:  “Why are you writing?”

Oh dear.  A question I didn’t know how to answer.  Did I want to be published again?  Sure.  Was I willing to do what it takes to make that happen?

You’re writing, she told me, because you want to see your book published.  You want to know people can read your book.  You want them to see it and know how amazing this story is.  And the way to do that is to submit.  And the way to submit is to




writing space susan 2010

Amazing, how this women – in less than two hours – cuts though the all the crud of my denial and strips away my excuses.  Since our meeting on Sunday, I’ve read through the first ten chapters of THE LAKE EFFECT.  I see lots decent writing, and some of it is terrific.  I also see disjointed scenes, clumsy scenes, awkward phrases, bad word choices and incomplete sentences.  This, I realize, will be my first second draft.  What an idea!  It’s almost something to look forward to – like a strange and unexpected adventure.

Which brings me to the question:  what scares you most about writing?  What would you discover if you dared?


About Susan Jeffery

I am loving the challenge (sometimes) of re-entering the contemporary romance market after a lifetime of raising two fantastic children (it never ends, btw). Just when I thought I was done with kids, I accepted a position as librarian to 900 boys in a Bronx private school. I'm a vintage published author, Harlequin American #206 Fair Game (1987). Winner of the Golden Heart, 1986. Currently exploring the possibility of indie publishing under my new pseudonym (see fresh name, above).

23 thoughts on “Getting My Butt Kicked

  1. Good for you, Susan-Mermaid!!! I’m so proud of you. Those are fabulous resolutions and I’m thrilled and inspired that you’re keeping them!

    In general, I think most writers make way too many excuses. What scares me most about writing? Pretty much everything. Yet, here I am. Glutton for punishment! 😉

    1. Thanks, Kerri! It feels strange and amazing – and I’m a little startled at how excited I am to look at my work each night. Like a journey of re-discovery.

    1. It was a crazy weekend, with an accident on Friday and a discovery on Sunday! The car can be repaired by it’s taking three weeks! Ack! And I’m working hard on getting “my style” out there!

  2. Good for you Susan. I think the thing that scares me most about writing is not being able to write.

  3. The Lake Effect, Susan. I’ve been intrigued by this story ever since you first told me about it. I think that’s one scary thing about writing. Putting your ideas out there and then having people looking forward to see what you do with it. Although it’s scary, it’s also kind of exciting. No pressure fishy sister (wink, wink)

    1. Wink, wink? OMG, I’m slayed! Listen, it’s been on the shelf, half-finished for a year. Joy heard that and demanded ACTION. Actually, her voice is very soft. She just asks questions that blast all your defenses to smithereens.

  4. Great insights here, Susan. Fear stops us all on occasion but the trickiest fear to overcome is the fear of success. Do I really WANT what’s entailed in being a published author? Can I handle all the pressures? Questions we need to be honest about before we can get past the fear.

    1. You are so exactly right, PJ. My first trip through the publishing grinder can be characterized in two words: too young. Let’s hope a clearer vision the second time through yield happier results. Yeah – no wonder I’m scared.

  5. Susan,
    I’m glad you made some resolutions. I’m not one for keeping them, so I rarely make them, but I’ve been setting smaller goals for myself. Sort of like Kerri’s Sparkle Plan. 🙂 I said I would read through my NaNo book and just make a few changes (taking out a crappy secondary character) through the whole book. Just that. But then while I was doing that, I started making a few other changes here and there and adding in some other details. I felt like all that was a bonus since it wasn’t my real goal. 🙂 I’m tricky that way.
    I’m glad you have a mentor and a critique group now. Baby steps are sometimes the way to go. And you always need someone to light a fire under you. Pintip and Vanessa do that for me. Vanessa actually emailed me a picture of me above a picture of Atlanta burning in Gone with the Wind. Lol. It got me moving…
    Great post, Susan! And good luck! Keep us posted.

    1. Thank you, Kim! I was also inspired by Kerri’s Sparkle Plan. I’m working on keeping the Sparkle going, which helps every evening when I encounter a Dreadful Passage in the Rough Draft.

      The mentor/critique thing is likewise inspiring. We’re doing plotting in February and are going to work on plot boards. Talk about exciting!

  6. Sorry to learn about your accident, but kudos for still making it to your meeting. I think Joy is going to make sure you reach your goal of finishing and submitting a manuscript this year!

    Hmm…what scares me most about my writing is never feeling finished. Yes, I’ve finished a few MSs and submitted them…but any time I pick one up, I can always find a new way to revise it. So I worry that, once one ever sees the light of day, I may HATE it and wish I could retract and revise it. When I think about that, I guess what I’m most afraid of is being ‘reviewed’…LOL. But let’s just hope I get the chance one day.

    See you in February!

    1. Jamie, I know exactly what you’re talking about. Why do you think I keep hiding in the corner? A friend of mine, long gone, brought the same workbox to every quilt guild meeting I ever saw her at. She always took a few stitches, talked to her friends, and packed it up at the end of the night. Next time, same routine.
      As I thought about her a few weeks ago, I realized: I don’t want to be Barbara.

  7. This is a game-changing realization, Susan. I’m so thrilled for you and can’t wait to hear the exciting news that you’re on submission. Now I kinda want to get a mentor to kick my butt. 🙂

    1. Game changing — you’re right, I hadn’t thought of it that way. What it feels like is, more energy, more responsibility, more determination. No more Ready, Shoot, Aim. Crazy, huh? 🙂

  8. Thank you, Diana. The Wedding Belles told me they’d take a back seat so I could do this work. I’m But just for a while. They want their stories finished, too!

  9. Wow! Good thing I got my ass over here to read your post. Thank you Mermaid Susan – I love this. And trust I can follow your lead to the happy place called getting my damn books done and getting them out there…and I’m also glad you’re doing well after the accident. Take care of yourself, and happy writing.

  10. Susan, thanks for sharing. Awareness is always the first step to success. God bless you and blessings for your writing.

  11. Heehee…I only mentor kids, because they have NO IDEA how much crap I’m just pulling out of my…tail.

    What scares me most about the business of writing? My own laziness. There are so many more things i oculd be doing.

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