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Not Your Usual Writing Advice



Exploring Cause
and Effect

“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.” — Margaret Young

In the February 2012 Nink column on “Revisiting Feng Shui,” NINC member Jo Beverley observed, “Do you know that there’s a theory of Feng Shui that the places in the home that naturally attract clutter…are problem areas in our lives? Cause or effect, that’s the interesting question.”

Indeed, it is an interesting question. Does the clutter accumulate in an area of the house related to career because we are having problems in our career, or do we have problems in our career because we allow clutter to accumulate in the career areas of home? Jo’s question can be applied to all areas of cause and effect.

Anyone who has been into motivational or business guidance literature for more than five minutes has heard the theory of “cause and effect” preached. Certain actions bring certain effects; it’s considered a given.

Like so many in the modern world, I believe strongly in practicing a cause to gain a specific effect. Do you want a certain income, to be published, to be published by a certain house? Set the desired outcome as a goal; that’s a cause. List the actions necessary to reach the goal; that’s a cause. Perform the required actions; another cause. Our lives often appear to follow this tried-and-true course.

I followed that path to publication. I set the goal to write and sell an inspirational romance novel. I figured out what I needed to do: write the novel, study books I admired to see how other authors succeeded, rewrite, attend conferences, rewrite, speak with editors, rewrite, and send out queries and proposals. I followed the plan and met my goal; cause and effect.

Or was it? I didn’t receive the publishing offer in the usual manner. (I wonder how many Ninc members did receive their first offer in the “usual” manner.) I met an author of inspirational romance at a conference I attended to meet and learn from authors of young adult novels. She and I spoke for a few minutes and exchanged business cards, but did not keep in touch after the conference. Six months later, I received a call from an editor I had never heard of, with a publishing company I never contacted. He wanted to see a manuscript that another publisher had planned to purchase for a line that closed. His company was starting a new inspirational romance line, and the woman I met at the conference was writing some of the line’s first books.

She’d recommended the editor contact me and gave him my telephone number. I sent him the proposal, and the book was published eight months later.

Was that cause and effect? I’d set aside my goal of publishing inspirational romance and started to concentrate on young adult fiction when the inspirational romance market died. (Yes, it did eventually revive and flourish.) I’d stopped submitting to romance editors. I’d stopped looking for markets for my romance.

I discussed this experience in the June 2010 column, “Take the Next Step You See.” As I said then, I spoke with fellow author Debbie Barr, wondering over the manner in which things happened—receiving the romance contract while pursuing a young adult contract instead. She said, “But you did exactly what you     

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