There are many times throughout the day that I simply pause and think how incredibly blessed I am. Almost ten years ago I made the fateful decision to become a writer. It has been an amazing journey, and the most humbling experience of my life. I have toyed with blogging on different subjects, but often found it difficult to stay focused very long. Why? Three reasons:
- For those who love to write, they often have so many stories to tell it seems one lifetime is not enough. There is so much commentary bubbling inside that we can find it depressing to have to light on one subject.
- Discipline is a character trait that, sadly, is not just encoded in one’s DNA. Like getting in the gym or saying “no” to that next slice of pizza, writing anything (blogs included) takes focus, willpower, and work. (Yeah…I was kind of bummed about that, too).
- I think many new writers (and even some of us seasoned ones) struggle with feeling legitimate. I know well-published authors who still find it tough to think of themselves as writers, let alone “experts” with anything noteworthy to say.
The last item in that list, I believe, is what has held me back the most in regards to blogging. I critique/edit hundreds of pages a month—fiction, non-fiction, marketing, etc, and have done so for going on a decade. I edit for some of the best authors in the business. On my desk are stacks of signed books from grateful writers, and a few of these books even has my name printed in the acknowledgements. And strangely, even though I possess quite a dossier of success in the writing world, I have a hard time believing I am an expert in my field. Silly, I know. But, part of growing as a writer is developing a greater degree of self-awareness.
Back to the why I am so blessed part, because that is really important and will help you understand why I have chosen to write this new series. I have the most amazing friends any person could ever wish for. Among those friends are some extremely talented writers (Candy Havens, Rosemary-Clements Moore, A. Lee Rodriguez, Britta Coleman, Nell Noonan, Dr. Mike Bumagin, Debbie Gillette…just to name a few). But, one of my closest friends is NY Times Best-Selling Author Bob Mayer. This friendship has changed my life, my writing life in particular, more than anything else. Bob is not just a famous, talented, brilliant author; he is also a former Green Beret and leader of an A-Team. He teaches how to blend the warrior spirit into the craft of writing in his book “Who Dares Wins,” and in July he is launching the first all-day workshops called “Warrior Writer” to teach writers (published or unpublished) how to think like a best-selling author. I count myself fortunate to have had such a mentor.
This past weekend, I helped Bob run his “DFW Novel Writer’s Workshop.” I had the super important jobs like refilling ice chests of cold drinks, handing out workbooks, and rescuing attendees locked outside on the bottom floor. Hey, I’m not proud. If I have to make two hundred ham sandwiches and scrub smashed Doritos out of the carpet to listen to a best-selling author teach me how to write, you can bet I am so there.
Like all of the attendees, I walked away a changed writer and person. First, I saw another layer of fear that had been dictating a lot of my choices (like being afraid of blogging about writing even though I WORK as an editor—dumb. I know.) But I also learned some mind-blowing lessons about the craft that I intend on passing on to you, my loyal blog readers.
First…let’s point out the pink elephant in the room.
Yes. There are some people who write their first novel and—POOF—they are instantly a NY Times Best-Selling success. This is a reality that cannot be denied, just like there happen to be people who win a hundred million dollars playing the lottery. These individuals do exist, but I don’t think lottery tickets are a wise investment plan for the rest of us. Yet, how many writers (and I am so guilty of this, too) write our first book and think we are going to be the next (insert name of super mega best-selling author here)? For those writers who emotionally survive that first slap of reality (known as a tall stack of rejected queries for your 170,000 word romantic-comedy-historical fantasy-science fiction-suspense novel that your mother just LOVES), the road to publication is fraught with peril.
Most won’t make it.
The bitter reality is that the road to publishing success is littered with the corpses of rejected or unfinished manuscripts, soaked in the lost lifeblood of what used to be a writer’s ego. For those who dare to take this path, they will learn a lot of Blood Lessons along the way. Those who are smart will learn, but those who are wise learn from others.
Blood Lessons come in many forms as you will read about in this blog. I will post lessons about writing, of course. But, most importantly, it will be my goal to post lessons of life, camaraderie, and character. As I stated earlier, I have been greatly blessed to be friends with caring, talented individuals. I always joke that Guantanamo Bay was using my first novel to break terrorists until the UN intervened (Water board me pleeeease! Just not another chapter of that BOOK!).
I still remember sitting in the Southwest Fort Worth Library parking lot crying after my first critique…and second…and third. When it finally sank in that I was not going to be living off my royalty checks in the French Riviera within the year, I became deeply depressed. In fact, I would have tossed myself off my apartment balcony, but the drop was only far enough to maim me. I would have tossed my computer off the balcony, but I had spent the last of my savings to buy it.
Despite the crushing blow to my ego and general sense of worth as a human, I kept at it—and I am so glad I did. I have won quite a few awards for my fiction, even though I am still trudging the road toward finishing/publishing a novel. I have been president of the Freelance Writers Network for going on five years, and I also sit on the board of directors for the DFW Writers’ Workshop. Through perseverance, I’ve earned my stripes as a critique/editor and I have managed to make a nice living doing what I love. It hasn’t been easy—the path of the Warrior Writer never is. And, though I’m sure all of you will learn your own Blood Lessons along the way, maybe I can help spare you a few…or at least inspire you.
All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible. — from Seven Pillars of Wisdom
I hope to pass some of this wisdom on to those of you who choose the path of the Warrior Writer.
You may have already gotten part of this message because somehow I lost what I was typing. So if you have already read some of this I apologize. I like your blog so much that I would like to hide it and use it as my secret writing weapon but I won’t do that. I will share it because it is that good and that helpful. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I have just started writing. The truth is I have discovered I have been writing for years but only in my head. These days I write it all down in the form of personal essays. Many of these I have submitted, some have been published and some I am still waiting on responses. In addition I have set up two blogs. It is amazing how the writing seems to build on itself. I write one thing and something else comes and that is followed by something else again. It love the freedom that writing it all down has given me. It is like Dumbledore’s pensieve in the way it clears my brain. Good luck with your writing. I look forward to reading more.
I found out about your blog just half an hour ago and I loved it. I decided to read it from the beginning, so here I am.
Thank you very much for your “mind-blowing lessons about the craft”. Please, keep writting and helping us.
I´m surprised you´re an editor. I mean, Hollywood movies make us all believe you editors are very bad people, who destroy new authors lives and self-esteem. But You seem pretty nice to me 🙂
Good bye and sorry about the english, I´m from Brazil.
“There are many times throughout the day that I simply pause and think how incredibly blessed I am. Almost”
I feel this way every day, but I definitely forget to ponder my good fortune!