Saturday, October 8, 2011

One Writer's Journey

Each one of us have a path we came down to get to where we are.  For each of us that course was different.  Some of us took a more direct route, but I believe most of us took one that would more resemble a curvy line.

The questions many people ask you as an author are:  When did you start writing?  Did you always want to be a writer?  Was it a lifelong dream?

Well, here’s a little bit about my journey.

I didn’t start out writing and telling stories as a little girl.  As a teenager I wrote a few novellas and some poetry, and thought it would be amazing to write a novel.  I even wrote to Harlequin for their submission guidelines and remember reading them excitedly when they came in the mail.

But things in life changed.  I grew up, fell in love and got married.  Writing seeped to the background.

In fact it wasn’t until about four and half years ago that my passion for writing was reignited.  I was facing a group layoff where I worked, and needless to say it didn’t have any of us feeling too motivated, so when a co-worker asked me to tell her a story I complied.  After a few emails, she told me I had to finish the story.  So I did.  This turned out to be my first full-length novel, but it was only the beginning.

I re-discovered that I needed writing in my life, and to date that one completed novel has turned into seven!

But my journey still wasn’t a straight-forward one.  I had detours along the way.

Two years ago, I lost my father-in-law.  He was in his eighties, but an amazing man – very intelligent and comical.  And even though a family member may be older when they pass, you’re never ready to say goodbye.  For a few months afterward, I didn’t write.  I couldn’t focus on it. I realized how precious life was, and wanted to spend every moment I could with loved ones because we don’t know what the next day holds.

It was my husband who helped me turn things around.  He knew I wasn’t happy, and he encouraged me to start writing again.  This proved to be a third beginning in my writing journey.

Yet I still needed more encouragement.  I began to notice a pattern when I did online searches about agencies or anything to do with writing and publishing.  I was usually directed to the forums of AbsoluteWrite.  I decided to join and this is really where my writing journey was given afterburners.

At first I was nervous to connect with others online.  I didn’t know them, they didn’t know me, but any fears were quickly eradicated.  The group of writers there were warm and welcoming and as a result I have made some close friendships.  It was through the moral support of others experiencing what I was that helped me grow as a writer.

As a member of this site, I shared portions of my work for critique and feedback from fellow authors.  Their input helped me to grow.  Their comments fueled me to improve.  I started reading books on the craft.  I researched aspects of the writing craft online.  I applied what I was learning.

Self-Publishing

This wasn’t a decision I made quickly or jumped into.  I considered, and weighed the options before proceeding.  Here’s one line of thought that led me to self-publish:  just because you land an agent doesn’t guarantee you a contract anymore than gaining a contract secures success.

I wanted my work in the hands of readers.

A few words to leave you with:

Writing is a solitary endeavour, but it doesn’t mean we’re alone.  As a writer moments of insecurities happen, but by building up a connection with other writers online you have a support system.  But be sure to be a terrific one for them too!

Between having your work beta read and edited, you’ll find yourself in another stage of the writing journey.  You’ll question your abilities, and maybe sink so low as think why do you bother writing.  I’m telling you right now, snap out of that thinking!  You can’t let critiques get you down.  Taking constructive criticism and molding it with your personal writing style is what makes you grow.

As writers we must evolve.

I’ll tell you this, even with my work out there for people to read, I am both excited and nervous when I sell my book.  I desire that my readers are engaged in my work, and unable to put the book down.  I look forward to receiving positive reviews.

Maybe you think this is where my writer’s journey ends.  Here’s my answer:  Absolutely not.  This is only the beginning.

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Ties that Bind, the first in the Madison Knight series is available now for Kindle and in print.  It is also available in other e-formats from Smashwords.

For more information about me and upcoming titles, please visit my author website:  carolynarnold.net