Submitted by Danica Cornell
Call me crazy, but when it comes to authors, I think I may have picked up on what (at least at first glance) looks to be a fairly common thread—one that quietly binds us in a way that’s interesting, if not a bit unexpected. The thread I’m referring to is the journey of returning to our truest selves—as writers. For some, this voyage is a long and arduous expedition back to our roots. For others, the trek isn’t quite as difficult, even though it does still represent a period of personal growth. Not to mention, perseverance.
For those of us who set out on this pilgrimage, we do so because penning stories is what we must do. Our words and make-believe worlds fill us with joy (and sometimes tremendous self-doubt). But either way, in the end it’s always the same. We turn back to the written word like a flower turns towards the sun—because to do otherwise would be to deny our truest selves. Words nourish our souls. Words ignite our creativity. We breathe life into our words, and our words breathe life back into us. Without this type of artistic expression, we begin to feel stagnant. And sullen.
I should state up front that my observations are decidedly unscientific. I’ve conducted no official interviews and I have no statistics to back up my impressions. What I do have are years of data from a variety of sources tucked neatly away in the back my mind. And while I’m sure it isn’t always the case, it appears that fairly often young writers are pulled away from pursuing careers (as authors) by well-intentioned family members who don’t want to see their loved ones dejected. Not to mention, penniless. As the years slip away, adult responsibilities leave many of these same folks with little time (not to mention energy) for starting or completing that long-dreamed-of novel, and thus they find themselves swallowed up by an overwhelming sense of stagnation. Not to mention, frustration.
For those writers who (almost miraculously) make it over these hurdles years later, it seems quite a few will face yet another uphill battle in the form of questions or prods by spouses, significant others, extended family, and sometimes even the dearest of friends. “What do you mean you’re experimenting with writing styles?” Or maybe, “I don’t understand—what’s the big deal with dialogue?” Or my personal favorite, “Quit playing on Twitter!” Very often, these types of comments are meant to help, but often end up hindering emerging authors because they distract us from the steep learning curve (for writing, marketing, and networking) that goes hand-in-hand with such an undertaking. Even worse, such comments have the potential to make budding authors question their efforts and writing abilities just as they’re finding their way back to themselves.
So, who am I to talk about all of this anyway? Well, for starters I’m like a lot of other indie authors—I’m an unknown writer who’s busily penning a science fiction/fantasy series. At the tender age of 17, I too was talked out of pursuing a writing (or journalism) career. Later on, when I decided to bite the bullet and try my hand at this craft, I ended up making just about every mistake there is to make—not only with writing—but with everything that goes along with it. For example, I initially set up my Facebook pages incorrectly which ended up causing me some significant security headaches later on. I didn’t understand how to use Twitter in the early days which means I probably (inadvertently) ticked off more than a few people. I renamed my book series because I realized the first name wasn’t catchy enough. I’ve struggled with web design and book trailers. And worst of all, I didn’t network for a really, really long time—probably because I was swallowed by the self-doubt and self-consciousness that seems to infect so many emerging authors, especially during their early days.
But here’s the thing. With all the mistakes I’ve made, I’ve learned an equal number of valuable lessons. I’ve learned about the art of writing a novel—not to mention an entire series. I’ve discovered who I am as an author—what I stand for and where my boundaries lie. And perhaps most importantly, I’ve made connections and genuine friendships with other writers who seem to share many of the same (or at least similar) experiences I’ve described here.
Once I reflected on all of this, I realized I truly had come full-circle–not only as a writer but as a person. I also became cognizant of the fact that in order to end up back where I started, I had to learn when and when not to listen others. There’s a reason why I spent a year experimenting with writing styles and dialogue. And as for Twitter? I’m not “playing.” I’m interacting with writers and readers. Besides, what’s wrong with making some new friends on my journey to becoming a published author? I truly value each and every one of these lovely people. They make my days more fun, and I’m more than happy to support them just as they do me.
So, in the end I guess it’s true that I may have taken the long way home…but I sure am happy as hell to be back! 🙂
Until we meet again…
I cordially invite you to visit me at:
My Author Site: http://www.danicacornell.com
On Twitter: @DanicaCornell
At the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB: http://ravereviewsbynonniejules.wordpress.com/rave-reviews-book-club/