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Not You Usual Writing Advice




the Joy

Enthusiasm means “of the gods.” When you have an enthusiastic
heart, all the heavens can flow
through it.
— Sonia Choquette

Do you remember when you first decided you wanted to write a novel? Do you recall the joy of creating the story in your mind and transferring it to paper when you were still an aspiring author?

I spent months writing and rewriting the first three chapters of the proposal for what became my first published book. Combined with the historical research, I spent at least a year developing the proposal. Each day while at my full-time accounting position, I anticipated the joy of working on that proposal when I got home. Perhaps writing was the place I went to get away from my “real,” everyday life. Fiction can be a form of escapism for the writer as well as the reader.

When writing becomes our career, we soon learn we can’t play indefinitely with the plot or the best words to use. Deadlines (one hopes, as that implies contracts, sometimes self-imposed in today’s indie market) and bills require we write with regularity and perhaps be prolific.

Rejections, changes in lines, shifts in what’s “hot,” editors with revolving door syndrome, contracted deadlines so close we feel on a carnival ride we can’t get off—all can leech our joy in writing.

I follow a blog by an indie author who appears to be doing quite well with her career. She published her first novel in January 2011 and her third in December 2012. She now has an agent and is hoping to sell to a traditional publisher. She is one busy lady. She’s working hard to gain the dream—the dream we’ve all had—of spending her life writing fiction. One thing that comes through in her blog is her enthusiasm for writing—no matter how harried her life.

I recall a television interview years ago with Victoria Principal, one of the stars of the original Dallas television show. She was making a movie. The role required long hours in difficult outdoor conditions—twelve to eighteen-hour days in the desert if I recall correctly. The interviewer asked how Principal handled these demands. She replied that whenever things seemed difficult or her schedule over-full, she reminded herself of when she was still struggling to become a paid actress. Night after night she would tell God that if He let her have just one paying role, she’d never ask for anything more.

Before I was published in book-length fiction, I met another aspiring inspirational romance writer at a conference. Soon after, she sold her first book. It was released to glowing reviews. She signed with an agent, and soon a much larger publishing house was considering a proposal. While the proposal was under consideration, the agent turned down a second proposal and then a third, refusing to submit them to editors. My friend was understandably discouraged. Though I didn’t voice my feelings to her, I thought how happy I would be to sell just one book—a goal she’d already accomplished. (Yes, she did become multi-published.)

Remember when seeing just one of your books in print was one of your greatest dreams?

Recently, I met a middle-aged man with a family and a truck repair business. One’s first impression isn’t that this man is a story-teller. Yet he made up bedtime stories for his children during their growing-up years. In a prior job he was in regular contact by computer with fellow workers at a distant location. “Just for fun” he’d send them stories he wrote, thrillers, in serial form—off the cuff, no rewriting. If he allowed too much time between serials, his co-workers would badger him for another. He was thrilled      

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