Wednesday, October 29, 2014

No More Excuses

I imagine we’re sitting in a coffee shop, me with a caramel steamer in hand and you with a coffee or latte or mocha, because that’s what the grown-up world does. I’ll explain how I wish I liked coffee. How my mornings would probably be completely different because I might actually not despise the mornings any longer. Or maybe if I had a cup of joe (that’s what you savvy coffee drinkers call it these days, right?), the morning routine of getting kids ready for school and packing those blasted lunch boxes wouldn’t be as overwhelming during my caffeine high. We would chit-chat about our day, the weather, and through getting to know each other you’d find out that I write inspirational romance/suspense novels. You’re intrigued, and then you confide in me that you’ve always wanted to write a book.
Can I just tell you how many times that happens? Through book signings, random conversations and scenarios like above – I can’t count the number of times someone has told me about their dream to write a book. I’ve been asked by Bob Clary from the online learning company, Webucator, to share any words of wisdom or knowledge I’ve collected about writing for their new “Teach Your Talent” project. At first I hesitated, thinking, “What do I have to offer?” I may not have incredible writing/grammar skills to share or a heap of wisdom to bestow – but I can be your biggest cheerleader! To those of you that have a dream and desire to start writing a book … DO IT! No more excuses of...
I don’t have the time.
Even if it’s five minutes a day – DO IT! I’ve been known to carry a notepad wherever I go to jot down ideas or anything that pops up in my head. If you see me in the pick-up line at my kids’ school, chances are you’ll see me scribbling like a madwoman.
I don’t have the skills.
Learn. Take classes. Teach yourself. DO IT!
I don’t know how to start my story.
Just start writing, if it doesn’t flow, that’s what the backspace is for. How will you ever know, if you don’t try and just DO IT! If I can give any advice in this area, it’s to start with an outline. For me, it was so much easier to start writing once I had an outline and knew where my story was heading.
I have the fear of failure.
Don’t we all! DO IT anyway! I’ve learned through my process of getting published to grow some thick skin and that I’d rather fail than not try at all.
I don’t have it in me for the hard work.
I’ll be honest; it takes a lot of effort to write a book. It’s not for the faint-hearted. But trust me, hard work makes the success even more rewarding. So DO IT!
I can hear you say, “Natalie, you don’t understand. It’s easy for you to say that, you’re a published author.” Once I stop laughing, let’s take a trip down memory lane.
Since I was a child, I always enjoyed writing and telling stories. I had often thought about writing a novel but never really pursued it because I have poor grammar skills (you, think I am, Kidding but seriously its, horrible?). Knowing I had this huge struggle, I just assumed I could never achieve writing a book. Back in 2009 life hit hard. I had two horrible miscarriages and my middle son came down with a very rare and life-threatening disease. It felt like all I did was grieve and take care of little people. I finally realized I needed a hobby – an outlet. One night my husband encouraged me to write a book – and hearing him say that sparked my desire again. So a few days later I sat down, wrote out a quick outline with detailed characters … gulp … and started writing chapter one.
I thought it was going well. Halfway through the book I decided to find an editor, because NO ONE was going to read this manuscript without first fixing my million grammar mistakes. I found an amazing editor and sent it off with high hopes, only to be crushed by the response. The manuscript wasn’t good. At all. It needed so much work the editor couldn’t even start editing. The subtext, the dialogue, the plot – you name it, and it was probably terrible. Pretty much the only way anyone is going to get their hands on that first manuscript will be over my dead body.
So what did I do? I cried. I didn’t tell anyone, and for three days I licked my wounds and cried. Then I sucked it up and got honest with myself. I could quit right there - only a handful of people knew what I was doing. I could save face and no one would be the wiser. Or I could pick myself up and do something about it. I had to ask myself what I really wanted. The answer? I wanted to write a book.
For the next month all I did was research how to write a fiction novel. I read article after article. I read self-help books. I went back through my favorite author’s books and gleaned from her words, style, and examples. And after all that, I found my own niche and voice - and started all over again. I sent the first chapter back to the editor. And guess what? She loved it!
I wish I could say from there on it was all smooth sailing until I signed my contract four years later with my publisher. I wish I could say I didn’t get rejected by twenty some agents that didn’t see my vision for a story. I wish I could say my books have been on the New York Times Bestseller list.
I can’t.
But what I can say is … I DID IT! I wrote a book.
Now, it’s your turn!
And yes, someone did proofread this…

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