Today I have a special post as part of the Writers Persevere event that authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are running for the next few days to celebrate their newest book, The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma. This book looks at the difficult experiences embedded in our character’s backstory which will shape their motivation and behavior afterward.
To help them celebrate this release, many of us are posting stories about some of the obstacles we’ve overcome as writers. As we all know, this isn’t an easy path. Writing is hard and as writers we tend to struggle with doubt. Sometimes too, we don’t always get the support we need to follow our passion, or we have added challenges that make writing more difficult. Because people are sharing how they worked through challenges to keep writing, I decided to share three friends' stories. I trust their perseverance, in the light of discouragement, pain, and rejections, will encourage you as much as they've encouraged me.
I started writing when I was five. I loved putting words on the page. My mother, a published poet, encouraged me.
When I was an adult, I decided to try to get published. I had no idea how difficult that would be. Or how long it would take me. Novels were my passion, but I also wrote poems.
I submitted my writing. And I received rejections. I took classes, went to conferences and workshops, wrote, and submitted. Many people encouraged me, told me I had talent, but publishers kept turning me down. Some of my friends thought I was “out of my mind” to keep trying.
I finally sold a poem in 2002, but my mother did not live to see that success. She died in 1998.
I struggled with health issues, and the older I got, the more often I felt discouraged, thinking I wouldn’t live long enough to achieve my dream of a published novel. My sister advised me to think about how much I enjoyed writing and how many friends I had met along my journey. If I had to decide between being published or having the friends I had made, I would choose the friends in a heartbeat. That realization changed my attitude.
I changed my focus from the drive to get published to loving the process. My new attitude made me a happier writer. I don’t know if my change in attitude improved my work, but my dream came true.
I had written and submitted novels for 39 years before my first success in that genre. I was offered a contract for what was the eleventh novel I’d completed. I still focus on enjoying the work, and now I am a happy—and published—writer.
|Kathy Cannon Wiechman is a former Language Arts tutor and teacher. Her debut novel, Like a River, was honored with the inaugural Grateful American Book Prize. Both Like a River and her second novel, Empty Places, are frequently used in classrooms. Not on Fifth Street is her third book. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband.|
My high school counselor told me I’d never make it as a writer. I’ve come to determine she really meant to say, “be sure you keep your day job” not, “you stink as a writer.” But I heard the latter, and thus delayed my writing career until well into my adult years as wife and mother. Up to that point my writing life consisted of a growing stack of journals, desperate attempts to make sense out of growing up with a mother suffering from bipolar disorder. The unresolved questions from my formative years began surfacing in the form of poems, and to my delight and surprise, a number of them were published in adult literary journals. That was the beginning. It took a dear friend’s suggestion that the scattering of poems seemed destined for a novel, and it took another seven years for the refining fires of editing to produce a publishable book. Today, I am thankful for all the bumps in the road that led to Crazy, and for the doors it has opened to encourage persons whose lives have been touched by mental illness.
|Linda Vigen Phillips is the author of Crazy (Eerdmans/2014), a YA novel in verse about a teenage girl coming to terms with her mother’s mental illness. While she awaits the release of her second book, Heart Behind These Hands (October 2018), she volunteers at NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and counts the days between grandkid visits.|
The Last Cherry Blossom’s writing journey began in 2009. My daughter asked me to speak to her seventh-grade class about the people under the famous mushroom clouds on August 6th- like her grandmother. I had never spoken publicly about my mom surviving the atomic bombing. I had only learned details of that day 8 years earlier. I was seriously ill, hospitalized for a month, and diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy(RSD). RSD is a neurological disorder of the sympathetic nerves causing debilitating, chronic, burning pain. I couldn’t walk on my own and had to endure grueling physical therapy. During that time, my mom shared her heart-breaking memories of August 6th. I now realize that she didn’t tell me, just so I would know; but to encourage me because as bad as things were, I shouldn’t give up hope. All along I thought it was therapeutic for her, yet it ended up also being therapeutic for me.
My mom agreed that I could discuss her experience in Hiroshima because she felt that the seventh-grade students might relate to her story since they were the same age that she was that horrific day. I started writing about life in Hiroshima during the last year of WWII through the eyes of a 12-year-old girl. Finding information about daily life in Japan written in English, took time and patience. Every step on this journey doubled in difficulty because of my RSD pain. There were days my hands hurt so much I couldn’t type, but I was blessed with wonderful friends and family who typed for and encouraged me. Shortly after I received my publishing contract, my mom passed away, overshadowing any other obstacle I had or would encounter. I became determined to honor her by creating through my pain and writing her story.
Do you have a story to share, or some advice for others? You can join Becca and Angela at Writers Helping Writers from October 25-27th, where they are celebrating writers and their stories of perseverance. Stop in, and tell them about a challenge or struggle your faced, or if you like, write a post on your own blog and share it using the hashtag #writerspersevere. Let’s fill social media with your strength and let other writers know that it’s okay to question and have doubts but we shouldn’t let that stop us.
There’s a prize vault filled with items that can give your writing career a boost at Writers Helping Writers.
The giveaway is only from October 25-27th, so enter asap. And don’t forget to share this using the #writerspersevere hashtag so more prizes will be awarded!