Writing Is Not a Solitary Endeavor

Part of my writing tribe
Writing is not a solitary endeavor. (Yes, that's the title of this post, but I wanted you to read it again.)

At some point, you have to share what you're writing to seek help or pursue publication. It stops being solitary at that point.

This weekend, I announced my big news: my novel, tentatively titled The Watchers of Moniah, has been sold to New Mythology Press. My journey to this important step started before I could read or write, and many people contributed to it along the way.

Three specific women top the list.

Aunt Vivian

When I was sixteen, she asked me what was happening with my writing. I stared at her dumbfounded. How did she know I wrote stories? I saw her rarely and usually at large family gatherings.

When I was young, too young to read or write, Vivian had visited, and I told her some stories. Turns out I asked her to write them down for me, which she did. I have no memory of this nor what happened to those early stories. Vivian didn’t live to see this day, but she did  see me publish several short stories and essays.

I wrote all of my youth--including a children's book and a YA novel. I submitted tons of short stories during this time but never won anything.

Mary Seamon

In high school, I took creative writing from Mrs. Seamon, one of my favorite teachers and definitely one whose impact I've felt throughout my life. Mrs. Seamon told me I could do well if I pursued my writing education. That simple statement has stuck with me all of these years.

Mrs. Seamon taught me about story hooks and the importance of starting the story in the right place. In her class, I wrote a short story that got published six years later, winning an Honorable Mention. Considering I'd written it in high school but published it in a college literary journal, I felt good about it's success.

I reconnected with Mrs. Seamon a few years ago on social media, and she has followed my writing journey, even buying a literary journal that carried my Pushcart-Prize-nominated story.

Unfortunately, my writing "career" veered way off track after high school.*

I graduated college as a single mother of two, so writing was not foremost in my plans even though it remained my dream. Throughout my career, I've written newsletters, training manuals, website copy, policies and procedures manuals, marketing materials, and resumes. Writing has helped pay the bills my entire career, but I wanted to write the stories of the people clamoring for attention in my brain.

Faith Hunter

Except for that one novel written at 14, I wrote a lot of novel beginnings but no endings. Then, I attended a writing conference and met Faith Hunter. She took me under wing and guided me as I grew my 50,000 words to a finished novel. With her input and insight, I completed it in a few months. It's grown to two novels and seen quite a few revisions over the years, but I have Faith to thank for guiding me at the crucial middle point of my story.

Because I knew Faith, and by now several authors, I jumped at the chance to attend hers and other workshops at the SAGA conference earlier this year. There, I met Chris Kennedy who asked to see my novel and later offered to sign me. (Watch a short video of my announcement of this milestone.)

The Impact of Many

The Watchers of Moniah is not the only story I've written. I have two others in the works, and I'm excited to give them voice soon.

Many people helped me reach this point. If you who want to write and be published, the people you meet along the way are key to your dream. For me, these three women stand at the head of a very long line of influential people in my journey-my tribe.

Why am I telling you this?

I believe in giving back and paying it forward. That includes acknowledging the people who helped get me to this point in life as well as me trying to help those who want to write or achieve their life's dream.

If you're part of that latter group, remember these points:
  1. If you want something, don't give up. I had many, many opportunities to quit, but I didn't.
  2. You can hone your skills in writing or whatever you're pursuing by using them in other ways.
  3. You need a tribe: people who will share their journey and experience with you.

Who is in your tribe? You need them, and they need you, because writing is not a solitary endeavor.

*You can read about my veered path in my faith-based blog, The Workbench of Faith. This link accesses over 40 posts about date rape, teen pregnancy, domestic violence, and divorce, so scroll to the oldest of these posts if you want the story from the beginning.


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