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Standing Up Against Naysayers

Every writer faces naysayers. It’s the former teacher who wonders how you can write a book when you consistently failed your grammar studies (happened to me). The family member who suggests you stop wasting your time. Or the friend who asks when you plan to write “real” books (whatever those are).

Making the decision to start BookEnds was no different. A friend asked why I would ever leave the safety of a publishing job. A former colleague and one-time mentor offered no help and little support. And a friend in the publishing business refused to give me any freelance simply out of spite.

The hardest thing about following your dreams is not the risk you might be taking (you know that secure publishing job). It’s often how others seem to want to build on the fears you are already fighting. When I started BookEnds it was terrifying to walk away from a regular salary. It was even more terrifying when the people I knew in publishing seemed not just unwilling to support me, but ready to sabotage my dream. But I had a vision and I knew it was a good one. I also had a choice. I could give in to my fears and those of others or I could surround myself with people who believed and supported me. I chose the latter.

The friend who refused to give me freelance. I haven’t spoken with her in 20 years. The colleague who offered little support, we eventually found our way and while she never bought a book from BookEnds, she became one of my strongest advocates. And the former teacher? Eventually, I had the opportunity to reject her query (and no, it wasn’t out of spite).

In 20 years I’ve learned many things, but in those first few months, I learned what was probably my biggest lesson. For reasons that are wholly their own, not everyone will support your dream, but those that do are the ones you should focus on.

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8 comments

  1. Hi Jessica,
    This post resonates with me, as there are some people who have raised eyebrows when I have told them my dream is to become a working author. Firstly, they’re not quite sure what that means, and secondly, they assume I must be lazing around having a grand old time tapping away at my computer. The truth is, I am actually having a grand old time, but that’s because I love to write for hours at a time.
    I love stories – real and fiction. I love to tell the stories of people and their experiences – real and fiction. I can’t imagine giving up on my dream and any time a naysayer comes my way, I think to myself, “There are 7.2 billion people in the world, so there will always be some who are encouraging and supportive. I will listen to those people and fight through the negativity and disappointments, which may come my way.”
    Thanks for adding to the encouragement!
    Emma

  2. Wow! I had no idea, that’s so sad and incredibly inspirational. I’m glass you got the toxic people out if your life and are thriving, and helping others reach their dreams. Go Jessica!

  3. Wow is right. Thank you for sharing this honest and inspiring blog post. I’ve followed you for quite a few years now, and I’ve always admired your dedication to your work as well as the encouragement you offer to writers through your blog and social media. You and the BookEnds team make learning about the publishing process – dare I say – fun! Or at the very least, not as painful as it might be otherwise. I think this all speaks to who you are as a person. So glad you were able to focus on the people who lifted you up.

  4. Thanks for this, and so timely. I always love it when people told me, “You can’t do that.” It’s like waving a red cape in a bulls face. “I’ll show you!” You showed them and more you were able to do it. Now if I can overcome the self-doubt and decide to get on with the querying!!

  5. What an inspirational story!
    Hockey great Wayne Gretzky once said: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” When you believe in yourself, others will believe in you.
    You may have many false starts – but you’ll learn from every one. I speak from decades of experience – and I’m still learning.
    Before he became a hockey great, Wayne Gretzky learned the basics. Starting as a toddler, he skated on wobbly legs. He watched many games. He knew the rules. He practised, practised, practised. He fell often. And then he fell less. And then he didn’t fall.
    Because Wayne was tenacious, his dad believed in him. Because his dad believed, Wayne believed in himself.
    Good writing is hard. The trick is to make it look easy.
    As they are for me, let Wayne’s words be your mantra: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
    In order to succeed, you must believe in yourself. Give it a shot.

  6. Thanks for this powerful post! Perhaps some of those who tried to discourage you secretly harbored ambitions like yours but were afraid to take the chance you took.

    Another challenge is to avoid introjecting naysayers’ naysaying and turning them oversized Inner Critics.

  7. Sounding like a broken record, because I’ve said this before here, but I have pinned to my desk the quote: The most painful thing to experience is not defeat but regret. I’ll combine that with something my Dad has said to me about my writing: You have to back yourself.

    Sometimes you have to take that leap of faith, and you don’t want to be surrounded by people who aren’t going to hold your hand while you jump.

  8. When I had my first magazine article published, I showed my family. My mom looked at it and said YOU wrote this? They PAID you for it? Well then, do more. It can’t be THAT hard! Fifteen years later, I’m still writing articles, newsletters, short stories and have several books in the works. I’m also editing an anthology. Choosing the stories, seeing what works well together, being kind in rejections and thrilled in the acceptances–it’s all making my writing better too. This is the best job ever!

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