Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Emotional Wound Thesaurus + Three Stories of Perseverance

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.

Kathy Wiechman

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.

Linda Phillips

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.   

Kathleen Burkinshaw

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.

Kathleen Burkinshaw is a Japanese American author residing in Charlotte, NC.The Last Cherry Blossom, is a SCBWI Crystal Kite Award Finalist (southeast region), 2016 Scholastic WNDB Reading Club selection, and recently nominated for the NC Sir Walter Raleigh Fiction Award. 

Want to add more depth to your stories? Check out The Emotional Wound Thesaurus here. And here's a link to a sample entry. Want all the thesauri at your fingertips? Check out One Stop for Writers. It's my go-to writing resource for checklists, tips, and timelines. It should be yours too!

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!


Helena George said...

Wow, that books sounds really interesting (and useful)!

It's so encouraging to hear about others who had doubts - or had others doubt them - and see these people push past that to see themselves published!

Grace Marie said...

This looks really good! I might actually look into buying it..

Kathy Cannon Wiechman said...

This book sounds like a must-have for novelists. I definitely want one on my shelf.

Linda Phillips said...

Carol, I'm honored to be included here among the "persevering." And once again I'm reminded of the wonderful blessing of support we give each other as writers. Kathy and Kathleen, your stories lift me up!

Melodye said...

It's poignant, but also hopeful, to read about the twisty paths these authors traveled on the road to publication. Thanks to everyone who shared their stories.

(I have some of these Thesauri in my collection, too. I need to pull them from the shelf more often...)

Angela Ackerman said...

What Great stories, Carol! Thank you for showcasing these!

Kathy, I identify with your story. I remember the frustration of constantly beating my head against the publishing wall. I really do believe your realization was an important one. I know for me, had I not started appreciating the lessons of the journey, I might have given up. I think now that writing isn't a job, a mere act of making something. It's a path to transformation. I don't think you can write and stay the same. It just isn't possible. As we delve into craft to better understand our characters, we come to understand the world and ourselves as well. I love writing because of this. :)

Linda, I am so glad you kept going. It makes me angry when someone speaks carelessly and it causes us to doubt ourselves. It took me a long time to understand that when someone does this it is because of their own fear and their choice to settle in some way. I don't think settling is for us writers, is it? I am so glad you kept going!

Kathleen, I love your perseverance! Writing when in pain is a huge challenge; I have heard from many writers who have chronic pain or injuries that layer on an extra burden when they create, and I cheer that they don't let it stop them. Thank you for sharing your story--thanks to ALL of you for sharing your stories! I hope this gives others the courage to keep going even if the way ahead grows cloudy with doubt. We all got this--we are all stronger than we might first believe!


Connie Porter Saunders said...

Hi Catol. This sounds like an excellent resource and I may not be eligible to win it but I am going to share this post and also share the link with a young lady who is writing her third book and looking forward to the first one being published.

Unknown said...

Gives me hope! Thank you all for sharing your stories!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks EVERYBODY for leaving comments on this post. SO glad that LInda, Kathy, and Kathleen's stories are meaningful to all of you--young and old. We need to encourage each other to keep on, keeping on!

Sarah Rodecker said...

These are all beautiful, inspiring stories! Thank you for sharing them and encouraging us on our way as authors.

Carol Baldwin said...

You are welcome, Sarah. Thanks for reading my blog!

Jennifer Lane said...

Three inspiring stories of perseverance!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks for stopping by, Jennifer!

cleemckenzie said...

Great news on the new book, and wonderful to read about others who have had the uphill battle in this business, but persevered.

cleemckenzie said...

I loved reading about all of your perseverance in this business. So glad you shared your experience.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thank you for stopping by, Cleem! It's a tough business and it helps to read about others being successful!

Rosi said...

Ah, there is hope for all of us, isn't there? I have read books by Kathy and Linda. Both are truly talented writers. I have Kathleen's book and really must get to it soon. Thanks for these inspiring stories.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Rosi! Now you know some of these writers' personal backstories!

Clara Gillow Clark said...

What moving stories of personal experiences that show how perseverance is key to success. What Kathy said about loving the process, resonated with me. All the stories give encouragement and offer hope. Thank you, Carol, for this exceptional post. Congratulations to all!

Kit Grady said...

What a wonderful encouraging post. Great stories. Thank you for sharing.
Kit Grady

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Carol,
Thanks for sharing the perseverance stories of Kathy, Linda, and Kathleen! I'm glad they kept on going and shared their talents through their books.

Celebrate you,
Never Give Up

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Clara, Kit, and Joan. I'm glad so many people resonated with this post!

Kathleen said...

I'm so sorry I am late to reply. But Thank you Carol for including me in this lovely post alongside Linda's and Kathy's inspiring perserverance. I used the Emotion Thesaurus while writing The Last Cherry Blossom. I'm so grateful for all the wisdom that Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi share with us! I look forward to purchasing and using The Emotional Wound Thesaurus. Thank you everyone for your lovely comments.

Carol Baldwin said...

SO glad you could be a part of this, Kathleen. I appreciate it!

"You're Almost in Labor!" A Celebration of Stages

  If you're reading this and have been pregnant for nine long months, or if you've been close to someone during that-seemingly-endle...