Getting a Little Heartfelt…

Picture of me, exhausted yet triumphant, when I finished writing GOD’S DAUGHTER

I’m so excited to be at my new site! Thanks for following me over here!

Today I felt like talking writing journey. Everyone’s is unique. Here’s a little rundown of mine:

2009–complete first novel for NaNoWriMo (Paranormal fiction, Otherworld)–find agent–out on submission–rejected in 6 months flat–book too short at 50,000 words.

2010–start second novel (Viking historical, God’s Daughter)

2011–finish second novel–start agent search

2012–edit and land agent–out on submission–start new novel (Contemporary Appalachian mystery, Miranda Warning)

2013–finish mystery–still out on submission almost a year and a half later with Viking novel–find different agent–mystery goes out on submission–final publisher rejects historical–Vikings aren’t marketable in the CBA–decide to self-pub Viking novel in November.

I went into this writing gig with lots of excitement. In fact, the first time I typed THE END I was sure I had a winner. But guess what? God had some stuff to teach me. At least I’m pretty sure that’s why it’s been a five and a half year wait to get published.

What did I learn in the meantime, you might wonder…because I surely *hope* I learned something along the way!

I learned that finding the right critiquers/beta readers is imperative. On that, you have to go with your gut and find someone whose writing you respect and who “gets” your writing style–yet they challenge you to do better. Quite often, they have strengths where you’re weak.

I learned that having an agent is no guarantee you’ll get published. It’s not the magic bullet. Yet you can learn a lot from a good agent. And they’re some of your biggest supporters.

I learned that sometimes life is stinking hard for no apparent reason. That sounds a bit bleak. But I can say that I’ve been in a dark tunnel with my writing for years now. There have been precious few glimmers of light, though landing agents and finding close author friends have been a huge source of encouragement for me–not to mention all the friends and family who prayed for me constantly. But when God finally threw open the doors and said, “It’s time. It’s time to get God’s Daughter out,” the freedom and relief that flooded me were indescribable.

I learned that other authors might not always get your vision. I’ve done some unexpected things in this writing gig–things I can’t always explain. But I don’t make a move unless I’m sure that’s the direction God is pointing. And sometimes those directions don’t look like the same direction everyone else is taking. I’m finally at the point where I’m willing to look weird.

Finally, I learned that sometimes you have to sink your teeth into your dream and not let anything sway you, IF you know you’re doing the right thing. I’m not saying I didn’t give up 100 times. I’m not saying I wasn’t frustrated beyond belief and a regular bear to live with occasionally.

Actually, 2013 was the year. After years of praying and pleading and begging God to open the right doors, I finally gave up and told Him that if I didn’t get published in 2013, I’d be out of the writing gig. I’ve stomached my fair share of ups and downs and I needed to know it was worth it. I needed to know I wasn’t deluded in thinking this was the way I was supposed to be going with my life. Otherwise, I needed to drop the platform and figure out what other talents (if any) I should be using (housekeeping, perhaps…nah). And thankfully, this was the year He made it very clear I needed to self-publish God’s Daughter. I say thankfully because in the end, if I’m honest, I love to write.

My journey probably looks nothing like yours. But I want to tell you, I understand those writing lows. I understand just how low the lows can go. And yet, as I’m seeing tricklings of light in my tunnel, I have a feeling I’m ready to burst forth into blinding, unabashed sunlight.

If one reader gets something memorable and meaningful from one of my novels, it has all been worth it. All the platform-building, all the relentless e-mail checking, all the brainstorming, all the querying and proposing and throwing myself out there like a crazy person.

I’m glad you can join me on this leg of the journey. Feel free to contact me any time to talk writing. Writing mentors have come alongside me all along the way, and it’s the desire of my heart to help other writers navigate the waters. The publishing tides are constantly changing, and I think the ones who stay afloat are those who won’t let go of the raft…the writers who use all the tools at their disposal (sometimes those tools are cheap–think MacGyver!) to craft something truly visionary. The writers who aren’t afraid to look like fools, charting their own courses and heading a direction that makes people scratch their heads. The writers who embrace new ways of looking at things.

Blessings to you all. Some of you have followed me here from my very first blog. Some of you have come alongside during this journey and held me up in prayer or offered that encouraging word at just the right moment. Thank you. And I pray 2013 will be a shiny bright year for all of us.


14 thoughts on “Getting a Little Heartfelt…

  1. Heather – I hope this isn’t a duplicate comment. I think I pushed the wrong button.

    Loved this post – and you’re so right about finding good and honest crit partners who get your writing style, genre, even POV. In my own experience, I’m also learning to be forthright and honest about the kind of crit partner I can be. One of my author friends and I had this very discussion, and we both agreed that our relationship would be better, stronger, and more effective in each others’ lives if we opted out of critiquing each others’ work, and just became each others’ support system. It was the best decision she and I could have made – her friendship is an invaluable gift to me, something we would have missed out on if we’d tried critiquing each other.

    You inspire me, Heather – thank you for sharing your journey with us. So excited for God’s Daughter to be released – it’s TIME!

  2. “I understand just how low the lows can go. And yet, as I’m seeing tricklings of light in my tunnel, I have a feeling I’m ready to burst forth into blinding, unabashed sunlight.”

    To have a friend who GETS IT is worth all the Earl Grey in the world!!
    And to have one who shares her heart and her WISDOM and SMARTS (oh yeah, I went there) with us all?
    Well, I am a much better writer because I know you.

    1. Thank you, Gwen! And yes–hold on. Even when you feel like you’re sinking. Even when you feel like you’re sailing off the wrong direction. Hang on, believe in your writing, and keep learning how to make it stronger. Most of all, keep praying!

  3. Great, honest article. The lows of writing . . . Let me add that even getting a novel published with a recognized Christian publisher is also no guarantee of stardom, decent sales, or future contracts. So much time and work went into both of my published novels (without much momentum to keep me keeping on) that I’ve often wondered if the journey is worth it. The lows can suck the joy out of writing because you’re constantly wondering, “Will anybody like it? Will this one get decent sales?” So if you can turn off the whisper from the lows, then you might get somewhere. Then add life, children, marriage, financial pressures . . . Ultimately, you have to do it because God tells you to. He lit the fire for a reason, so never give up on it, regardless of the lows.

  4. Excellent point, Adam. Even as an agent isn’t the magic bullet, sadly, neither is a traditionally published book. Now, if all you’re shooting for is letting people read your book, it’s good. But if you’re looking to make an INCOME from your writing…not so great if sales don’t perform as expected. This is honestly where I see self-pubbing becoming the wave of the future–if you do it right and launch it right, you can get MORE books out FASTER. You don’t have to wait for the wheels of traditional publishing to turn. And you keep most of the profits. BUT you have to put a lot more effort into it, and that’s hard with all those pressures you mentioned. But you’re so right–if God wants you to write novels, you do it with all your might.

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