The road to success is paved with persistence, with an underlayment of information and earned luck—being in the right place at the right time with the right credentials. For me, after spending a lifetime reading books, I harbored a secret desire to write a commercial paperback, but the time was never right. Family, community, work, grief, and caregiving took priority–all time well spent. It wasn’t until 2010, following a back operation that required lots of bed rest, that I penned my first novel. It took four months to complete. I was ecstatic. Seven years later, I’m just as proud to have published my fifth novel, EXECUTION: Love. Loss. Leverage. Murder. In celebration, I decided to share my journey with you.
As soon as I finished my novel, I asked for and got feedback from a small group of readers, my joy faded into confusion when one person didn’t like it because they didn’t like the main character. Confusion sent me into detective mode. I loved my character. She was just like me (write what you know) and reactive rather than proactive. She was in the middle of a great story and survived without initiating any change or pushback. It turns out readers don’t get any satisfaction from a hero that doesn’t earn their happiness at the end.
That piece of information began my educational journey through the ins and outs of writing. It’s not just about putting words on paper, recording an event (real or fictious), or exploring/ explaining/ reliving emotional experiences. I took seminars on character, plot, pacing, structure, and language. I listened to the mentors and to the other students’ work. After absorbing each block of information, I’d go home and rewrite my 73,000-word book—and I did that more than eleven times, over five years.
I never once veered from my primary goal—publish a commercial paperback. I knew each iteration of the book brought my dream closer to fruition. Persistence. I did falter in the latter stages and felt great relief when my editor declared the book finished. Whew. Published. Yea! At the 2015 International Women’s Writers’ Guild (IWWG), I debuted my first novel, SEDUCTION: Love. Loss. Leverage. Murder. During that conference, I took a seminar on “dialog,” and knew I still had much more to learn—which I did and continue to do.
Have you guessed my astrological sign? Yes, I’m a Taurus woman as characterized, according to Stylecraze, by perseverance, determination, tenacity, dedication, practicality, and a desire to work hard in order to live a comfortable and quiet life. With a strong will and good values, she is often seen as stubborn and unwilling to change her mind. Hmm. Okay. I’ll even admit to the last bit.
While persistence is critical to finishing a project, it does not necessarily make that project successful. And therein lies the rub (a misquote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet). That damn word “success.” The problem is the definition is relative, meaning different things to different people. For me, it meant completing the challenge of writing a novel, until I put it up on Amazon where I expected EVERYONE in the world to receive it with great applause. The reality — nothing.
I, while disappointed at first, did not let that reality define me, my writing, or my success. My journey as a writer had just begun. I had one foot on the yellow brick road. The big question was could take that big step and write another? Today, four books later, I’m still surprised when I find another story inside me.
Success. Every time, and I do mean every single time, I get positive and/or constructive feedback, verbally or in an Amazon review, I get excited. It means I’ve engaged another reader on one or more levels. Success. To my readers, Thank you.