Do Not Let Your Fears Defeat You

inspiration, Thoughts

I have a confession to make. I’m a fraidy-cat. I am terrified of everything. I am afraid of trying and failing, but not trying is even worse, for that is definitely failure.

I tend to hem and haw, and toy with an idea until I make up my mind. Once I’ve decided on something I plow through until it is done. Right or wrong, I just put my head down and do it. I’ve made a lot of mistakes this way. Rushing through a job that would have been better planned and executed according to a specific schedule. I’ve also waited around and missed my chance because I couldn’t or wouldn’t decide. Life is about risks. If you do not take a chance, you will never accomplish anything.

My dream is to be a published author. I have written since I was ten years old. My first story was, of course, a romance written in red ink, titled, “True Love.” All through high school I scribbled stories and ideas for stories. The first time I read my work out loud for a friend she blew me off, embarrassed and hurt I didn’t share my work again for many years. I hid my stories in notebooks under the bed, afraid to let them see the light of day.

When my “adopted” sister found out I wrote stories, she encouraged me to share my work. She liked it and was surprised that I could capture her feelings on the page. Being able to describe emotions and experiences so that the reader asks, how did you know? For me, that was when I knew I didn’t just want to write, I wanted to be published.

I am a fraidy-cat, sharing my writing is like standing naked in the Walmart parking lot yelling, “Look at me!” I sometimes feel as if I’ll swallow my tongue when I try to read my work. I think, “Why do they care? I’m not that good. They’re not interested in hearing what I have written.” But I have found as I opened my mouth and shared my stories, people began to listen. They started to care about what I had to say and about my stories. They related to my characters.

I grew up believing traditional publishing was the only way to go. When I first started sending my stories to publishers and agents, they had to be printed and mailed. Does that tell you how long I’ve been working towards this dream? The past few years I’ve come close with articles published in magazines and stories and essays in published in anthologies. I’ve attracted the attention of a couple of agents even working with one for almost two years but still I’m unpublished. After breaking up with my agent, I realized I had to really get in there and make my dream happen, no one was going to do it for me.

Between my mentor, published friends and my family, I have pulled up my big girl panties, strapped on my leathers and stepped up to face myself in the mirror. I’m terrified but I’m ready. Once the story was edited (AGAIN) and my readers said it was ready to go, I began working towards self-publishing. Author-friends who have self/indie published, some of whom have also traditionally published, tell me it is the way to go. So much of the promoting falls on the writer’s shoulders so why not do it all the way you want to do it.

So, I’m battling the fraidy-cat and standing up to let my voice be heard. I am a writer and soon, I’ll be a published author. Don’t let your fears rob you of your dreams, if I can do it, so can you!

 

I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can

Thoughts, writing inspiration

My writer’s journey has been more like a Dancing with the Stars episode, two steps forward and many more backwards. I’m dancing as hard as I can and still get the of steps wrong. I’ve had articles published in magazines and newspapers. I’ve been short listed on anthology competitions, and I even caught the interests of a couple of agents.
After working with an agent for over a year, I now find myself without a dance partner. I’m facing a dilemma now of which way to go. Do I become a solo act and self-publish or do I take another chance with an agent and hope we can learn to move as one, or do go straight to a publisher and dance the choreography they already have in place?
My greatest fear in working with another agent or even a publisher is giving up control of my story. As much as I learned while working with my agent, there were changes we made to the story changed so much that it is barely recognizable as my original story. I know that I was blessed to have such a conscientious person honing my skills and molding me into a more productive writer but after all that work, my misstep landed me back on my butt with nothing published and no agent.
What do I need to do to succeed as a writer? I have good friends who have found success with traditional publishing and others who have succeeded with indie publishing. What is the right path for me?
My main concern with self or indie publishing is the cost. While it’s true, as an independent publisher I have complete control and will reap total rewards but it also means that all of the cost, all of the decisions and all the risks are mine. The past ten years since deciding I wanted to be a published author, I have learned a lot about the publishing process. I have attended workshops, programs, watched YouTube videos and taken online classes. But I know there is no knowing like doing.
I had about made up my mind to self-publish when an opportunity to pitch my story to an agent came knocking at my door. What do I do? Part of me wants to take the plunge and see what I can do and part of me says, you’ve been down that road, let’s try something new.
My first step in this new dance is to read my story with fresh eyes and see what I want to keep and what I want to change back and even what I want to make new. I still hear my agent’s voice in my head, guiding me, but I know whatever decisions I make are mine. So, whether I dance with the stars or fall on my butt, the choice is mine. Whatever I do, I’ll sing and new song and make up the steps as I go along. I’m still dancing, but for now, I’m dancing to my own tune.

Not a Commercial for Audible The Letty Dobesh Chronicles

Book Review, Thoughts, writing inspiration

I have often talked about how much I love audio books. When I am busy and have little time to read I enjoy putting on an audio book and letting the narrator read to me. In college I listened to records or cassettes of lectures, reenactments of historical events and books. I found audio books again when our local library started offering books on cassette and later, on disk. I have bought audio books from used books stores, chain stores and even truck stops but the latest and easiest I have found is being a member of Audible. I can order books online and have them delivered to my phone. I can listen to them anywhere I bring my phone.

Being a member of audible, I receive one “free” book a month (of my choosing) but I can also purchase books cheaply through their daily deals. Here is where I’ve discovered new authors I’ve never read, some of whom I’ve never heard of. Recently I purchased Good Behavior by Blake Crouch. Some of you may have seen his television series by that name. I had never heard of Blake nor his series but I loved the description of his main character so I purchased the books.

The Letty Dobesh Chronicles, which the television series Good Behavior is modeled after, is about a woman who is on the edge. Recently released from prison, Letty is fighting drug addiction, low self-esteem and her own desires to be good. The stories are fabulous, giving us a look into the human condition. Here is a woman who should have given up hope and become one of the nation’s lost people, instead she keeps finding new reasons to keep going, new hope, new purpose.

While the stories I listened to through Audible were truly enjoyable. Letty is one of the best written characters I’ve ever met. The part I enjoyed the most was Blake Crouch’s commentary. At the beginning, he told how the idea for Letty came about. This wasn’t a short process, it was something that simmered on the back burner for years until something flipped the switch and made him look at the idea differently. As an author, hearing his process was fun and enlightening, and even encouraging.

Blake Crouch is a North Carolina author with two television series under his belt. The idea for Good Behavior is from a series of short stories about Letty, The Letty Dobesh Chronicles. While the series doesn’t follow Blake’s original stories verbatim, he is okay with that. Crouch tells about the process, the work on the series and how it is different and similar to the stories he wrote. It is unusual for the author of the stories to work on the screen play for television or movies but Blake Crouch has been able to separate the two processes and enjoys seeing where the television series will go.

While the original stories are all his individual work, Mr. Crouch explains how with the television show, it’s not about his vision but he culmination of all who work on the show from the set and costume designers, to the actors and directors and also his fellow writers.

Listening to Blake Crouch talk about writing in different aspects from the first kernel of an idea to seeing the show on television is something I felt needed to be shared. If you are an author and wish to see your work in different venues, listen to this audio book.  I would love to have Mr. Crouch come speak to my writer’s group. He is interesting and inspiring.  I will definitely be checking out more of his books, I hope you do as well.

On turning 50

Thoughts

It is the day after my fiftieth birthday and I’m sitting here thinking of the years that have past. I’ve raised six sons of whom I am proud, I been married to my hero, friend and lover for twenty three years and I work three jobs I like. It’s not a bad life. Like the song says, “regrets, I have a few but then again, too few to mention”. I wouldn’t change even the mistakes I’ve made for fear that I’d loose all that I have accomplished. I have a good life. We’re not rich, we don’t have a fancy house, I’ve not even managed to get my novel published but I still feel like I am blessed. My life is, for the most part, happy.

But now that I am 50, I think of my dad who died at sixty six and realize it is only sixteen years before I am the same age. I feel a certain amount of pressure to prove myself. There is so much I still want to do with my life. I want to be able to give something back, to use my talents to benefit my family and my community. I want to get published but it is even more important that words touch someone else. It is my hope that I can make someone smile, that I can lift someone’s spirits, that my words make a difference.

A Note of Encouragement

Thoughts

Some play by ear, others by note but to make the music beautiful you must have passion and you must practice. Like any art, some have a natural talent while others have to learn the mechanics. As a friend was encouraging me to continue my writing despite several set backs and heart breaks, he told me a story. His mother played piano, she could hear a piece one time and go home and pick it out on the piano. Any time she had a free moment she was at the piano playing and practicing. She played for friends and for her church, the piano was her joy, her passion. As an adult my friend decided to buy a piano and learn to play. Unlike his mother he did not have the gift of music, he could not hear a song and played it. He had to learn the notes. Learning all the notes takes time but he finally managed it, now he can play anything he wants as long as he has the notes. His talent isn’t the same as his mother’s who made it look so easy but hard work and a passionate drive to succeed gave him the joy of music. While each of us have different talents, passions and muse, we can all improve by practice and learning.

My friend doesn’t play his music for friends or at church, his music is for his own pleasure. As a member of several writers groups I have learned that not everyone wishes to publish, they just enjoy writing. As I struggle to get published, I sometimes forget that it is the love of writing, the joy it gives me and the release of passion that is it’s own success. No matter how you express yourself, remember their are different degrees of success, do not measure yourself by others works but by your own truth.