My journey to publication was a whirlwind…but it didn’t start that way. I was merely an eleven-year-old child when I wrote my first novel. The handwritten manuscript was titled Randi’s Will. This story had it all!
…2 girls orphaned due to a car accident (a horrifically written hospital death scene)
…the 2 girls run away from their evil aunt and uncle
…a group home where they meet other orphans
…foster parents that had names reminiscent of Anne of Green Gables characters
…and romance! This time the hero’s name was reminiscent of a soap opera character
Okay, so I wasn’t very creative, but I started it and finished it.
Little did I know I wouldn’t finish another full-length novel again for 16 years! The same year I wrote Randi’s Will I also promised my grandmother that I would write her memoir some day. My great-great grandma’s memoir was written by a family member and I wanted to do the same.
Twenty-three years later my words went from a long-ago promise to paperback (and ebook). Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl was self-published in 2011 and it quickly became an Amazon bestseller in two categories. My dear Amish grandma’s story is all over the world and she has become a mini-celebrity in her local area in rural Michigan. It was a wonderful experience.
This ushered in my next project and my return to fiction. I began writing in the WW2 era but from an Amish perspective. My grandpa had been drafted during WW2 and as a non-resistant was sent into the Civilian Public Service (CPS) system where he worked for several years. You can learn more about the CPS on my website and in my fictional series The Promise of Sunrise.
I retained an agent and publication contract very quickly...all praise to God alone. Through this journey there were a few things that I learned and found that making a good habit before the contract came will make it much better after the contract is signed.
Just three little tips…
1-When writing became my job a brand new form a stress encompassed me. Even though I’d been writing seriously for several years and making it a priority, suddenly with the contract signed I felt beyond overwhelmed with the idea that I could not create yet another book…let alone two more to satisfy the contract.
***Yes, I can (yes, I’m letting you into my thoughts here) I had to remind myself that MANY writers (new and seasoned) feel this way when they sit and stare at a new screen. Writing is not just giftedness or inspiration…it is usually a lot of grit, perspiration, motivation, the backspace button, forcing yourself not to use the backspace button, M&Ms (replace with your chocolate snack of choice), and a lot of coffee. Oh, did I mention grit! You’re going to need a lot of grit.
2-As a stay-at-home-mom and homeschooler I suddenly had a job with crazy hours. Sure, I already treated my writing like work…but this was different. This time, I had a boss.
***A LOT of mom’s work a lot of hours and raise a family…I’d venture to say that most do! Choose your priorities wisely then build your schedule around your priorities and remember—writing time is sacred! For me, it is not more sacred than my spiritual life or family…but it is work I feel called to do and it is important. Don’t get run over.
When I get invited out on a day I know I need to be in front of my lappy writing, I do my best to simply respond with “I have to work.” Some of my friends know I write and some don’t…some will ask about it and I’ll maybe expound a little. I am a homeschooling mom and with my two daughters (6 & 3) all day every day…so my evenings and weekends are wildly sacred. I do as much housework during the day as possible so that when the girls go to bed…my work day begins. I take extra care before committing to anything new, especially if it’s going to be a long-term commitment (ie: weeks or months in a row of an evening away). I must treat this contract like a job…because that is exactly what it is.
3-Relationships with other writers are more important than ever! You. Are. Not. An. Island.
***I’m not talking about just a writing critique partner, though that is a wonderful thing. I am talking about a writing friend (or a few) that you can vent to or unload on…this might be the same person that you critique with. I don’t mean vent in a complainy, whiney way, I’d never do that, but sincerely when you are in need of someone who is just willing to listen and provide some guidance and wisdom and sometimes a wake-up call, too. The publishing world is a tough industry and ever changing. Having positive friendships with people who are walking the same path isn’t just extremely helpful but I think it’s vital. ALSO, if you are unloading on them make sure you are available for them to unload on you, too! This is a two-way street.
These are just a few things I’m learning along the way. By the grace of God, He will continue sustaining me as I walk this journey.
What are you learning about the path you are on? I'd love to hear your thoughts!