One Year Blogiversary – How My Blog Saved Me

I can’t believe it! Jen’s Pen Den has been up and running for a year!

So, I’m not sure if I’ve ever told you about why I started Jen’s Pen Den. It wasn’t because I was bored, or curious, or eager to the take the next step in building my author platform. It was because I was on the verge of quitting. Of giving up on writing all together.

Last August, I was in a low, low place. The option contract on my YA manuscript had expired months before, and my attempts to find new representation had failed. Everyone who passed on it kept telling me the same thing: “We like it, but we don’t love it.”

In other words, “It’s meh”.

AKA, “You’re a meh writer”.

AKA, “You suck, your writing sucks, and you’ll never be good enough to succeed in this business.”

Suffice it to say, I was devastated. I stopped writing and contemplated what I should do. I didn’t want to give up–that’s not in my nature–but what else could I do? Start a new book? Ha! Why? I was a “meh” writer. Why spend a billion hours on a book that was just going to get the same lukewarm reactions from agents and publishers?

Because you love writing, a stubborn inner voice reminded me.

Oh. That.

Ugh.

I battled myself for months. I didn’t know what to do. Start writing a new book? Or start looking for a new career? Fight for my dreams? Or throw in the towel? Punch and kick and scream? Or crumple up and cry?

Solution: Start a blog.

I had no idea what blogging was or how to run one, and I had no idea if starting one would help me climb out of the black pit I’d fallen into. But I had to try. I had to do something. I wasn’t ready to give up on my dreams yet.

It was one of the best decisions of my life.

In essence, my blog saved me. Within a few weeks of starting Jen’s Pen Den, I climbed out of the black pit I’d tumbled into. Hope returned–slowly but surely–and I gradually rose up and struck back at those vicious doubts inside of me. “Give up, give up, give up!” soon turned into “Fight, fight, fight!” I entered writing contests, started a new book, wrote a short story, and finally had the strength to tear up my old YA manuscript and start over completely.

Now, almost a year later, I’m happier and more passionate than I’ve ever been about writing. I’ve kicked all of those ugly doubts in the butt and knocked them down for good.

One of the main reasons I’ve been able to fight back is because of you guys.  You helped raise me up out of that black pit with your friendships, encouragements, and long distance cheerleading. I can’t thank you enough for your support.

…I’m not crying. I’m not!

Out of curiosity, I went to my stats page and looked up the top ten posts of the year. If you’d like to check them out, here you go!

Top Ten Posts

  1. The Worst Ways to Begin Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents
  2. How Do You Share Backstory Information
  3. Chasing Monsters – NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge Entry
  4. About Jen
  5. Stop the presses. Literacy isn’t important. Technology is
  6. “Muck and Mire” – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction 2013
  7. Into Paradise – Final Round Entry – NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge
  8. Book Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth
  9. Jen’s Pen
  10. Over The Edge – 2nd Round Entry – NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge

Thanks again for all of your awesome support. Here’s to another year of blogging and writing!

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Photo credits: giphy

Friday Funny with a Reminder: Dreams Don’t Work Unless You Do

Ahhh, it’s Friday. Friday, Friday, Friday!

In a nutshell, my week was similar to the last few: calm and productive. I’ve continued traipsing through the revisions for my YA manuscript, and despite my ongoing sluggish pace, I feel good about them. As planned, I sent my beta reader the first five chapters of my story, and she gave them the thumbs up.

Hallelujah!

When I received her positive feedback, I did a little happy dance. I was so delighted! And astonished. And relieved. She isn’t an easy critic to please (hence the reason she’s my beta reader). But she genuinely enjoyed my first five chapters. Here were a few of her comments:

I read the chapters and all I can say is other than some typos and descriptions–like you said just read for the content–well I could not stop reading it. I mean really. I never wanted to stop and you kept me guessing

I chuckled off and on throughout and felt the story’s lightness–not too deep and dark–yet. Your character development was perfect

I am anxiously awaiting the next set.

I will be sending the next two chapters to her tomorrow. I’m not as happy with them–something just feels off…Hopefully my beta reader will be able pinpoint what the problem is. Or maybe I’m just over thinking things and need to carry on. Which I will, as always. 🙂

Unfortunately, my 9-5 job has picked up its pace and workload, so I won’t have as much free time to devote to my manuscript. Blerg! Fingers crossed I’m able to deal with it and just keep writing, especially since I’ve made it an official goal to have a solid draft completed by August 15th. That’s when the first round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014 kicks off.

So, basically, I won’t have a life the rest of summer. Adios world. See ya later.

Oh well. As the saying goes, “Dreams don’t work unless you do”, right?

*big breath*

In honor of the slightly overwhelming amount of work I have ahead of me, here is today’s Friday Funny:

a-ha-ha-wr-be-a-writer-funny1How was your week? Are you feeling stressed? Or you are kicking back and enjoying some fun in the sun? I won’t resent you if you are…Okay, okay. I might resent you a little 😉

Jen’s Weekly Roundup
In case you missed my posts from earlier this week, here go:

Music Monday – Good Girl – Carrie Underwood

Why You Should Enter the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014

The First 250 Words of Your Manuscript