Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year... New Attitude

Friday, January 1, 2010
Here we are. January 1, 2010. The first day of a new year. The first day of my new attitude.

After a difficult year, personally and professionally, I’ve decided to attack life by living it. This means shedding my all-work-no-play mentality in dogged pursuit of a dream. It won’t be easy because: A) I’m a creature of habit, and B) the dream to earn my living solely as a writer still burns bright.

I’m not giving up, but I am adjusting my expectations. This includes altering my idea of ‘success’.

I’ve spent the last fifteen years working my butt off to achieve certain goals in my writing career. My dedication and perseverance paid off in many ways, but not in all the ways I had hoped. Typically I’m an optimist, but in 2009 I was a first-class pessimist. I focused on the negative aspects of my writing career. On everything that had gone wrong or hadn’t panned out. Instead of celebrating my achievements, I wallowed in what I perceived as my failures. Let me tell you, I wallowed big time.

A couple of weeks ago, in a moment of deep depression, I actually voiced my darkest thought to my husband. “I feel like a failure.”

I couldn’t believe those words left my mouth.

In reality, everything that had gone wrong or hadn’t panned out for my books was out of my control. In reality, luck and the current state of publishing weren’t on my side. My less-than-stellar-sales and status in the publishing world are not a reflection of my writing. The logical side of me knows this. But the dreamer . . .

My husband quickly and calmly pointed out that I haven’t failed. He added that, quite frankly, he’s amazed by all that I’ve achieved. It was the kindest and wisest thing he could have said because in that moment, I got it.

When I started writing fifteen years ago, I had no formal training. I was a professional performer. All of my training and experience was in musical entertainment. But I attacked my new passion, my new dream of being a published author with a vengeance. I joined writers’ organizations. I read books on craft and business. I attended workshops. I wrote day-in-day out. I submitted my work to publishers and agents over and over. I endured rejection over and over. Until one day . . .

First I published with a small press print publisher—three books co-written under the name CB Scott. Then I signed solo with Medallion Press—six books. Four of these resulted in foreign sales, all garnered fabulous reviews, including a positive nod from Publishers Weekly. Then I signed with my current dynamo agent, Amy Moore-Benson. Next came a three book contract with HQN (Harlequin). More stellar reviews and awards. Fan mail! Appearances at major trade shows and conferences. Another two-book contract with HQN.

To date, I’ve written and published fourteen books (including the two that are due for release this year). I’ve averaged two books a year for the last six years… while working a fulltime day gig. All of these books have been hits with reviewers and readers.

How am I a failure?

I’m not. My mistake was in assuming certain things would naturally happen at certain stages of my career. My mistake was in comparing my ‘achievements’ with those of other authors. Huge, honking mistake. There are so many variables. Reality check. I’m not them. I’m me. And (note to self) I’m pretty darn charmed.

My original goal was to sign with a major New York publisher. To share my stories with thousands of readers. To see my stories in print and in book stores.

I’ve done all that… and more. I succeeded. I conquered. I should be happy dancing, not wallowing. I should be living life, embracing the future, exploring new opportunities.

I don’t have resolution or goal this year. I have a new attitude, a new mantra.

Live. Embrace. Explore.

SIS Beth

22 comments:

Tracy Cooper-Posey said...

Well, I have -- and will always -- continue to think you're friggin' amazing and stand in awe and envy of all you achieve.

I hope you have a fabulous 2010, Beth -- by whatever terms you finally define "fabulous".

Cheers,

Tracy

Erin McCarthy said...

Awesome, Beth! Exactly what I needed to read today. Wishing you all the best in 2010 and hope to see you soon!! :)

pmd02 said...

I am so blessed to count you among my dear girlfriends who are all amazingly talented, beautiful and charming. I can say without a doubt, that should I ask any one of them "who is the fairest, most talented, most charming of us all?" the answer would be a unanimous "BETH". No doubt about it. You are multi-talented, creative, charming and beautiful. I am SO LUCKY to call you a dear frieind (and all-time favorite singing partner).
I completely understand the "why am I not THERE???" When most of the world thinks "HERE" is pretty damned spectacular. You have done much - you will do even more. I stand in awe of you always and in all ways. I love you, Patricia

Beth Ciotta said...

Gosh, Tracy. Coming from a prolific dynamo (and super nice person) like you, that means a lot. Thank you!

Here's to a *fabulous* 2010 for us all!

SIS Beth

Beth Ciotta said...

Erin, you fabulously talented woman you, part of me is shocked that you connected with my message, but the other part of me isn't surprised at all. No matter where we are in our careers, I imagine the majority of us worry that we're not where we should be--or where we'd like to be. Typically artists are both driven AND insecure. What a combo, huh?

Repeat after me... I AM A SUCCESS! LIVE. EMBRACE. EXPLORE!

*hugs*
SIS Beth

Beth Ciotta said...

"..."why am I not THERE???" When most of the world thinks "HERE" is pretty damned spectacular..."

Patricia, how very insightful. Perspective. If only we could step back and look at ourselves through other people's eyes on a daily basis. Maybe then it would be easier to appreicate what we've achieved rather than lamenting what elludes us.

I am in awe of your many talents--acting, singing, writing--and your constant enthusisiam and dedication to each art. You are an inspiration as an artist and a friend. Thank you for your beautiful words. I am humbled.

Love, Beth

Richard said...

To you, Beth:
O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us
It wad frae monie a blunder free us
An' foolish notion
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us
An' ev'n Devotion

("translation":
Oh, that God would give us the very smallest of gifts
To be able to see ourselves as others see us
It would save us from many mistakes
and foolish thoughts
We would change the way we look and gesture
and to how and what we apply our time and attention.)
Robert Burns

To Hubby:
We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men. :-) George Orwell

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

SIS BJ said...

Beth,
I think you have achieved so much in your writing career. I am so proud to call you my sister. Every time I walk into a book store I look to see if any of your books are there. I always get a huge smile on my face when I see one of your books sitting next to all the others on the shelf.

This year I am going to try to have one of my poems published in at least one of the mags that I read. If only one poem makes it I be the happiest person in the world!!!

Tori Lennox said...

Awesome new attitude, Beth!!!

Although I do now have the Pointer Sisters singing "New Attitude" in my head.... *g*

Linda Wisdom said...

Good for you, Beth!

Think about it, even one step forward means no failure.

Just remember what you've achieved.

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Richard... Love that Robert Burns quote. Thank you!

Tori... I haven't thought of the Pointer Sisters in ages. Gads. Now they're stuck in my head!

Linda... "...even one step forward means no failure..." Imprinting that on my brain! Thank you!

Sisters-in-Sync said...

BJ... Your support and faith mean more than you can know. THANK YOU!

As for your poems... You'll find a home for one (or many) of them. You will. BELIEVE!

Love, Beth

Elle J Rossi said...

Beth,

When I first started writing (almost a year ago exactly) I had certain goals. Some of those goals still remain while others are adapting to suit the new age we're in. Times are changing and with it, the industry itself. Instead of being upset about it, I've decided to learn the most I can about it and change my measure of success. Right now, each day I can squeak out at least 5 minutes of writing time is big time success for me. BIG TIME.

A NYT best seller will probably mean something completely different than it does now in 2 years time. maybe it won't even exist. Ugh on one hand and it's out of my control on the other.

You are a success each and every day that you get to do something you love or spend time with people you love!

SIS Barb aka Elle J Rossi

Beth Ciotta said...

"...You are a success each and every day that you get to do something you love or spend time with people you love!"

Words of wisdom. Thanks Barb/Elle. And I think you're smart to adapt to the changing times. I'm trying to do so myself. Here's to embracing change!

SIS Beth

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Beth,

As a young girl, I always looked up to you. I thought you were cool and talented and hoped that I could be just like you.

As an adult, I look at you and what you have achieved and I am proud of you. I know that you went into writing with nothing but your raw talent...you hadn't studied writing in school or had any formal training at all. And you turned that raw talent into some really awesome pieces of work.
You've written and published 14 books? The word "failure" doesn't even come to mind. You've achieved what others only dream of achieving!
Congrats on your new attitude and Happy Happy New year!

SIS Bren

Roni Denholtz said...

Beth, you have achieved SO MUCH--but most of all, you have shared wonderful stories with tons of readers. THAT IS SUCCESS!
Remember that we all climb that ladder of success in different ways, at different paces. I recently sold my 6th book to my (small press ) publisher. But after many years of short stories, articles etc. that is success to me. I do aspire to one day sell to several publishers, including bigger houses, like you have; but in the meantime I kbnow I;ve achieved more than many. And so have you! Look how far you've come--and look at how many lives you've touched with your FABULOUS books!

Taylor said...

This post makes me want to stand up and cheer!! Beth, this is the perfect attitude to walk into a new decade with! And once again, congrats on all that you've done. Time and time again you've amazed me with your writing and I've been endlessly impressed with your global popularity (you told me yourself you have fans around the world, don't forget that!!). Congrats again Beth, I can't wait for the next 14 books from you (all due in 2 year's time :D)

Taylor said...

I meant to say global popularity AND SUCCESS. That helps a lot too!!

Julia Templeton said...

Beth,
Excellent post...and oh so timely. :)
Much love,
Julie

Beth Ciotta said...

Bren, Roni, Taylor, and Julie.... Thanks so much for chiming in and for all the beautiful thoughts. Feeling quite emotional just now. But in a very good way!

Hugs to you all!

SIS Beth

Olga said...

Beth, congrats on a great new attitude!

And you're definitely not a failure - you've accomplished things many only dream about, you get to live doing what you're passionate about, and you're loved and admired by so many people.

You're amazing!

ElaineCharton said...

Beth
I came over to read Linda's blog, she's my big sis! :)
Finding the blog is run by you and your sisters was an added plus. Woman you are amazing and have accomplished so much more than most people have.
Remember Failure is not falling down failure is not getting up when you do fall down!
hugs from sunny Tucson

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