Thursday, February 16, 2012

Self Esteem shot itself in the foot today.

Self-Esteem is the feeling of well-being when thinking about yourself. It’s when you get kudos for your writing, or creating a masterpiece of some kind. It’s a low feeling when you think you are nothing until someone thinks you’re something and tells you so.

I’ve always had low self-esteem. That changed once my first book was accepted for publication. It was the biggest boost I’ve ever had in my life. It was a Readers Choice Best Seller for the first month and stayed in the top ten for many months after release. When the next two books were accepted, it was the Snoopy Dance of Joy on the ceiling for a few days. Someone actually enjoyed reading something I wrote. How wonderful!

Over the following years, I had small injections of esteem booster when each of my manuscripts were accepted for publication. I was feeling pretty good about myself.

Then the other shoe fell. I registered for college. Yep, at the age of fifty-three, I decided to take a few college classes. I didn’t have a job so I needed something to get me up in the morning. Why not college? I always wanted to go to college. My daughter is in college. So, I registered in the classes she’s taking. I’ve always said there is no such thing as wasted learning.

Church Finance and Bookkeeping isn’t bad. I’ve taken bookkeeping before, back in the dark ages. The class teaches how to handle the accounting for a non-profit organization. I could use a refresher course and can always use bookkeeping skills since I do have a business. This class had me nervous the first few days but I settled in to the work and now it’s a lot of fun trying to keep up with classmates that could be my children.

English Composition, on the other hand, is where the “self-esteem shot its self in the foot” comes in. Holy cow! I have seven published books and now I’ve found out that I don’t know how to write! Well, not according to the text book, anyway. I am now learning the mechanics of writing and the steps to writing a great narrative. I have kept up with the kids but I’m wondering how I was ever published. I guess I must have done something right.

Self-esteem is taking her lumps but I’ve convinced myself that I will be a better writer for taking the class. Of course, I’m sure my editors will appreciate me learning how to make their job easier, too.

Cole Jackson knew all about low self-esteem. After being orphaned by men who didn’t understand the love his white father had for his Pauite mother, Cole was an outcast from the inhabitants of the town. He got a boost when he received a simple smile and some attention from Shyanne Bennett.

A shadow grew on the kickboard, and drew Cole's attention from his meditation.

"What's up, Chief?" Dex grinned at Cole, displaying a row of perfect teeth. His platinum hair reflected the sunlight like a halo around his head. His cronies, three idiots that Dex couldn't take a breath without their applauding his success, surrounded him. Each held their hands solemnly behind their backs.

Cole ignored them, his gaze caught by that blonde girl, Shyanne Bennett, that he'd been watching for the last four months. It was the highlight of his trips to town. She sat across the street in a wagon with one of her friends while her father tended to some business or other. Shyanne made it easy to forget that there was a horse's arse standing beside him trying to make his day worse than it already started. He'd focus on the good, and ignore the bad. He'd become good at that throughout the years.

"I'm talking to you, In-jun."

Cole concentrated on Shyanne. Dex turned, followed his line of sight and laughed.

"You've got no chance with that one. She's way out of your reach."

Cole tossed the apple core into the street. His eyes remained on the girl. He wished the idiot would go away while he enjoyed the view. She was pretty when she laughed, her blonde hair bobbing around her shoulders and down her back in soft curls. He wondered what color her eyes were.

At that moment, she noticed him. She stopped talking, her gaze locked with his, and a smile curved her mouth. Cole would remember that smile for the rest of his life. It was one of the few moments in his life when he felt acceptance. No one could take memories away from him so he held on to the special ones like a miser held on to his gold.

Dex kicked the foreleg of Cole's horse. The wagon lurched as the horse cried out. Cole leapt to the ground, his boots accenting his landing with a plume of dust. He stood face to face with Dex.

Dex grinned. "Well, I finally got through to him. You can take your eyes off the girl. If anyone gets that one, it'll be me."
"We'll see," Cole challenged, his glare drilled into Dex's eyes. They stood equal in height but Dex had quite a few pounds over Cole.

"He can talk. I didn't think he spoke English." The cronies laughed. Dex's grin melted to a smug frown. "There's nothing to see."

Cole glanced past Dex at the girl. She stood on the raised sidewalk now, and watched the exchange along with a few other people. Cole could toss this fool to the ground but it would only get him reprimanded by Sheriff Olsen. That would either impress Shyanne or she'd never speak to him because of it. Dexter Heims wasn't worth the trouble.

"Right." Cole tried to step around Dex with the intent of loading the rest of his supplies. Dex grabbed a handful of Cole's jacket, and shoved his back against the buckboard.

"I didn't tell you to go yet." As the fool stepped back, his cronies fanned out beside him. Dex turned his back to Cole for a moment, taking something from one of the others.

"What ever." Cole hooked his thumbs in his back pockets, cocked his head in annoyance, eyes on the building across the side street. A few others had gathered behind the idiots. Great. Cole smirked as he waited.

Dex turned back to Cole. "You remember General Custer? That run in they had up in Montana territory?"

Cole glared at Dex. "Last year. What about it?"

"Did it look like this?" In a synchronized attack, all four of the boys pelted Cole with balls of mud. Cole didn't flinch as the globs thudded against the wagon and the stacked supplies, startling the horse, and splattering him. He didn't take his eyes from the grin on Dex's face.

Cole smirked. "If you had half a brain, you'd remember that the other blonde horse's ass lost that battle. The Indians won." Cole headed toward the supplies, undeterred by the show of stupidity. "But you're not long on brains, are you."

Dex puzzled for a moment. He glanced around and laughed, the others following his lead, as usual. Cole continued his task as Dex and his band moved off down the street. Cole worked, his head held high as he turned his back to the laughter. As he hefted another bag of seed, he chanced a glance into Shyanne's kind blue eyes as she strolled past him into the mercantile. At least she wasn't laughing. Another memory he could keep.

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, Shyanne’s Secret is on sale this month at Whiskey Creek Press. See how Cole handles his self-esteem issues and how I handled my writing ability.



Colleen Connally said...

Boy, do I know what you mean about being shot in the foot! Didn't think my self-editing was that bad until I went Indie. I mean my traditional books haven't been that bad to edit. But readers still want your Indie book polished off like it was from a major publisher. Think my next step is finding an editor for my Indie books. I also have a book with WCP and two more signed with them due out later this year.

Laura Breck said...

Jena, congratulations on taking that big step and going back to school. I hope you can take some fun classes, too.

JenaGalifany said...

Thank you, Jerri and Laura. My teacher talked about the editing being perfect before a book is released, but I have yet to see a book, indie or traditional, that has absolutely no errors of any kind. The mind tends to fill in the blanks and see what should be there.

I hope to take a signing class next semester, if God is willing and my finances permit.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Jena,
Your post made me laugh. When I returned to college my crative writing teacher told me to write for myself, I had no talent. five published books later I still smile.

JenaGalifany said...

Good morning, Barbara. I've only turned in one essay so far but got a good grade. =) My problem is identifying parts of a sentence, that sort of thing. I'll muddle through. The last creative writing class I took was in the 70s in 8th grade.

Jannine Gallant said...

The world of academia may turn it's nose up at popular fiction, but that doesn't mean you can't write - and do it well! Have fun with the class but don't let it wreck your self-esteem. Here's to many sales!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Jena, please don't allow academia writing to ruin your voice. I majored in English in college when I was in my late 40's. I qualified for Honors English courses. Then I worked as a technical writer. So I knew how to craft a sentence. What I didn't know was the craft of writing!!! POV? I thought omnicient was the way to go. Imagine my surprise when I got my hands slapped by an agent for that error in judgement. GMC? I thought it was a truck. I had no clue. Character arc? Conflict resolution? All those terms were Greek to me.

Here's the thing. Learn what you can, but don't--please don't--allow it to alter your writing voice and style. Yes, we could all use improvement. I strive for it every day. Yet, everytime I conquer one bad habit, my agent or editor points out another. The learning curve of a writer is continual. Accept that and enjoy the process.

You'll make a great student and think all you can teach those whippersnappers--including the professor. You, go, girl!!!

JenaGalifany said...

Jannine - the class is not going to wreck my self-esteem. I actually find the situation funny. Thank you for your blessing on my sales. I appreciate it!

Vonnie - A writer, any writer, will never know it all. The last thing I'll let happen is to mess with my voice. I understand sentence structure better (so far) and that is a good thing. Like my mother said when I told her I was taking the class, "Don't let it mess up your writing brain." lol As if I have more than one brain? Gotta love my mom!

I appreciate all of the wonderful comments I've received for this blog. You are all an encouragement and a blessing. Thank you!