A writing friend and multi-published author shared some advice with me: You will never forget the first time your agent or editor calls and says the magic words. . .There is no feeling like it in the world. Enjoy that for a few days. If and when those little feelings of panic start setting in, realize that it’s just the emotional letdown after a few days of walking six feet above the ground. It means nothing other than the party’s over and now it’s time to deal with reality again.
I plan to enjoy it to the fullest before I come down to reality. I think I’m like many writers in that I loved to tell stories at a young age. Wrote many a poem especially the ever-popular teenage angst poetry. At fourteen I took a stab at my first novel. That was in the days before everyone owned a PC in their home, before Windows. Using a typewriter, I typed away at the first 25 pages of a gothic romance novel (very popular in that day). I’m wondering if I still have that stuffed in a manila folder labeled Beth’s writings somewhere in my mom’s house.
I can’t imagine having to use a typewriter to produce a novel now. Imagine the retyping you’d have to do, much like the ancient scribes had to redo an entire page, possibly an entire book due to one mistake. When I reached 25 pages, it occured to me that I had no clue what to do if I were to finish my book. Of course, people published novels all of the time, but where did I find out how to go about it? Again, this was before the internet which has changed so many aspects of our lives and industry–especially music and the publishing world.
Though I pursued a career in computer science, I never forgot my desire to write. It seems that almost every five years I would try again, never really certain whether to write articles or attempt a novel. But God kept nudging me. First with a Bible verse that repeatedly turned up everywhere I went, everywhere I looked. There was no escaping so I embraced what I felt was God’s call to write. I even received a letter in the mail from a writing course I’d signed up for. The first sentence read “Has God given you your writing verse yet?” Uncanny.
At some point five years later, I’d given up completely on the idea that God wanted me to write. I laughed out loud, scoffed even. We’d moved to Austin for my husband’s job. Still, God pursued me repeatedly regarding writing. I agreed to work through a Bible study for writers by Marlene Bagnull and that’s where it was confirmed to me that I should listen to this desire He’d placed in my heart. It was that year (2001) that I joined then ACRW (now ACFW) at only about 100 members. They’ve now grown to over 1200 members. They placed me in a critique group where I was made to submit at least one chapter a week.
One member was already an excellent writer (English major or some such thing) and I made sure to have my chocolate ice cream ready once I finished reading her critique of my work. There is almost nothing as painful as having someone rip your baby to shreds. You’ve poured your thoughts, yours ideas, heart onto the paper (or laptop). You’re vulnerable, putting yourself out there for all to see. Then someone shreds you. I learned to develop a very thick skin if I wanted to become a writer and I made it through her critiques.
Almost all of the members of the original critique group are now published and we are still very close friends. I want to thank them for years of encouragement and support and I especially appreciate family members who believed in me and were patient with the hours I ‘ve neglected them and spent writing instead.