What (or Who) is Holding You Back?

D'Alba RT BooksigningI have a guest blog I’m doing in December that I’ve been putting ideas together for. It has to be writing focus (which we rarely do here). The idea of the blog post is something like “Crap I was told when I started.” But of course, I’ll have to clean up the title a little. 🙂 One of the items that keeps bugging me is things I was told that held me back and it made me wonder if there is something or someone holding you back from accomplishing all you can.

For example…the first idea I had was for a book involving an amateur sleuth (and I swear I’ll write this book still!) In the book, the heroine was trying to help her best friend who was being blackmailed for a crime she (the friend) didn’t commit. However, the blackmailer had evidence that would put her in jail for the rest of her life, if she didn’t end up on death row. I was told by two well-known and well-established authors that I couldn’t do that because the person being “threaten” and blackmailed was the friend and not the heroine and the story line just wouldn’t work. The male author then proceeded to make fun of my heroine’s response to the male character who was supposed to be the hero and her love interest. (as it turned out, my heroine was attracted to the “bad boy” in the love triangle, but *sigh* that’s a different story.) I abandoned this manuscript and moved on to other things but the story is still percolating in my brain. Then a year later I read a book WITH A VERY SIMILAR plotline and I realized I’d let someone else hold me back from writing the story I wanted to write.

Another example…Way back in 2006, I was on the way to a conference riding in the car with six other authors, all telling various stories about publishers, contests, agents, etc. One of the authors (I’ll call her Jill, since I can’t remember her real name!) said that she’d had an agent who hadn’t liked her book. Her agent had had her tweaking and rewriting for over three years, even having her change her characters’ names more than once.  Jill did everything her agent asked…tweaked, rewrote, replotted, renamed and all this time,  the book wasn’t being submitted ANYWHERE for any editor to decide if she/he liked the book as it was written. After three years, the agent still wasn’t happy with the book. Jill finally fired the agent. She lost years of potential revenue because you see, her agent served to block Jill from getting her book into the hands of people who had the power to buy the book. Her agent didn’t have the power to buy the book. She only had the power to hold Jill back. Just because the agent didn’t like the character names, or wanted the book tweaked or rewritten didn’t mean a person with the authority to buy the book would have agreed.

Don’t get me wrong. I think agents can be a great asset for an author. They can get through doors that an author might can’t. But continuing to tweak and rewrite a book for someone who can’t offer a contract for your work is spinning your wheel, IMHO.

I spent last week writing with three authors. One of them told me about a “friend” of hers who has been tweaking, plotting and rewriting THE SAME BOOK for ten years! She wants it to be perfect. Her own perfectionist tendencies are holding her back.

So how did you learn to trust your gut and get past the people or comments that were roadbumps in your road?

PROMO WARNING: I’ve a story in an anthology coming out this week. Smokin’ Hot Firemen. I’mSmoking Hot Firemen Cover guest blogging on Friday at http://thereadingaddict-elf.blogspot.com/ and I have an AWESOME (or “Smokin’ Hot” hee hee) prize package to give away! Check out the details HERE