My first sale...
My first sale…

Years ago I had this fantastic experience. I was a military wife, living in California, raising our kids and playing around with an idea I had for a collection of children’s stories. I finished them and thought, hey, maybe I should send these to a magazine. Maybe they might like them. So I did, and what do you know, they published not one, but two of them! And they PAID me! I was so excited that I did my happy dance for a week straight.

Then I had a terrible experience. Having been inspired to delve deeper into writing, I embarked on a Christian Romance novel. A small, start up publishing house expressed interest and soon I was under contract. This was pretty heady stuff for an aspiring author in the first two years of her career. There were things that gave me pause, but I ignored them and moved forward. Mistake number one: I should have listened to my intuition. The problem is, I sometimes have difficulty differentiating between my intuition and my fears. Anyway, the book was never published. The editor assigned to the work wanted to remake it in her image and she and I spent our entire working relationship at cross purposes.

Not our hands, but you get the point.
Not our hands, but you get the point.

In the end, the manuscript was consigned to a deep, dark drawer in the lowest dungeons of my filing cabinet, because looking at it now gave me hives, and I didn’t write another thing for nearly five years.

Then, with my husband’s encouragement, I had another great experience. I attended the Bradenton Christian Writers Conference. It was a wonderful week of seminars, agent and editor meetings and critique sessions, from which I returned once again ready to write and hoping to someday publish.It is now almost fifteen years down the road from that first publication and here is what I picked up along the way:

One success does not make a career, but neither should you allow one failure to end it.

Always listen to your inner voice. Sometimes it’s God talking, other times it’s fear. But even if it is fear, it might still have something valid to say.

Surround yourself with like-minded, positive support. Writing can be like living in the desert, rich with beauty, but lonely; so you have to look hard for the oasis where you can find encouragement and new ideas.

Persistence is the key to achieving any dream. Even a lack of raw talent may be overcome with enough practice and patience. Giving up at any point, even after a success, will kill the dream dead regardless of the dreamer’s ability level.

And last, pay attention to the things you pick up along the way. They may end up being among your most treasured possessions in the end.

What lessons have you picked up on your journey? We’d love to hear about them. Meanwhile, dream big and happy writing.

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