Bella authors share when they almost threw in the towel – but kept going

There’s a time in every writer’s life when they want to throw in the proverbial towel. Putting your words, your stories, your beloved characters out there can be incredibly overwhelming. Will people want to read it? Can our love of writing push us through the toughest moments, physically and emotionally? Here are five Bella writers sharing their feelings about when they want to pack it all in, but decide to push through anyway.


KG MacGregor: Most of my longtime readers and friends know I’ve been battling back issues since 2009. It’s a chronic problem that manifests mostly as sitting pain. I’m lucky to be mobile and relatively strong, but I find it increasingly frustrating trying to put in the hours and concentration it takes to write a book while constantly shifting and standing and adjusting ice packs, etc. (Trust me, I’ve tried it all.) It’s occurred to me more than once that I ought to consider the R-word — retirement. Yet each time I think I’ve made up my mind that this book will be the last, new characters pop up and start chatting in my head. It seems this compulsion to keeping writing is so much stronger than the will not to. I can’t say that will last forever, but I know better than to bet against it.


Lara Hayes: Imposter Syndrome is terribly common, especially among creative types. I wish I had even half the confidence I display at work in my writing, but the truth is that despite favorable reviews, despite publication in print, confidence is still a battle I fight daily. Natalie Goldberg once said: “We have to look at our own inertia, insecurities, self-hate, fear that, in truth, we have nothing important to say.” To answer your question Dana, I’m ready to admit defeat every time I sit down to write, every time I sit down to edit. After I finished my first manuscript, I worried that it was fluke. After I finished my second, I was sure that it would be my last. At first, I thought this was something I’d grow out of given enough experience. Now, I’m not so sure. Self-interrogation is not necessarily a bad thing. The fear I have represents a deep desire to keep creating, and improving. Knowing that my fellow writers struggle with the same insecurities helps, not only in the sense that I’m not alone. But maybe, this constant questioning is precisely the point.


Emily King: There’s a scene in my novel Cracking Love where Janet is exercising on an elliptical trainer, and her thighs are burning, her buns are burning, but she keeps going at the challenging resistance level the program on the machine demands, and eventually, it eases up and lets her go at a more comfortable pace. I think the creative process of writing consists of a lot of peaks and valleys like that, where finding the right words to put on the page can once in a while seem like a struggle but then a breakthrough comes, so I ignore the moments of doubt that sometimes surface and keep going. Recently, I have been revising the manuscript for my second novel, and although I get into tough spots with it at times, I find that when I push through those tough spots that I, like Janet on the elliptical trainer, arrive at more manageable spots and ultimately at where I want to be.



Heather Rose Jones: Book birthdays are already an anxious time for authors. When I was coming up on the third book in my Alpennia historic fantasy series, Mother of Souls, I had all the usual anxieties about whether the series was finally starting to pick up an audience (yes), whether readers would understand that the book wasn’t meant to be a romance (not necessarily), and whether they’d enthusiastically recommend it to all their friends (some did). I was pulling together all my courage and excitement in preparation for that November 15th release date. November 15th. In 2016. Exactly a week after the U.S. election. When November 15th finally came, I was shocked and shattered and terrified about the consequences of that election (a reaction that has been largely proved to be justified). How could I spend my time and demand other people’s attention for something as frivolous as a book release?

“Thus does conscience make cowards of us all” (Shakespeare: Hamlet) though not in the original sense of the line from the play. I hadn’t the heart to give my book the launch and promotion it deserved—that it needed—in part because I was deeply depressed, and in part because felt it was morally wrong to focus on book promotion at such a time (conscience) and I was afraid that being seen to be doing so would sully my reputation in readers’ eyes (coward).
It took me six months to get up the nerve to try to give my book the belated launch I thought it had deserved. I could only justify it to myself by doing a month-long promotion of other genre books that had similarly been hindered by coming out in that inauspicious month. And because of the hit that Mother of Souls took in terms of visibility and reception, it took me that same six months to find my way back to starting seriously at work on the next book in the series, Floodtide. Even more time to find my footing enough to complete a first draft. I’d just gotten to the point with Mother of Souls where I felt I could achieve one book a year on a continuing basis…and now both 2017 and 2018 have passed with no new books.


It would have been easy—so very easy—to give up entirely. One of the things that brought me back was to focus on smaller projects—projects for other markets outside the main Alpennia series—things where I could complete something and maybe even see it published and reclaim that sense of competency.  And I’ve found my way back, slowly and painfully, to the land of Alpennia and the story of a frightened, ordinary laundry maid who gets caught up in the consequences of the great mysteries and learns that sometimes the most courageous thing to do is to support your friends and just keep going.


Dana Piccoli: My first novel is coming out in March and I started writing it five years ago, thinking no one would ever see it. I can’t tell you how many times I convinced myself to drop it, to just let it fade away in my documents. It kept calling to me though, even though it was hard to hear over my self-doubt. Luckily, Bella found something in it that I hoped was there from the beginning: heart. I can’t wait until Savor the Moment comes out, and I’m also going to be a ball of nerves everyday until it does.
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