To Find Success, Learn to Embrace the Climb

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Image courtesy of Flikr Commons RVWithTito

Funny the memories that come back sometimes, and we have no idea what prompted them. Last night, as I was walking out of the grocery store, a memory flashed in my mind, a moment I hadn’t thought about in easily ten years. I was one of the poor kids at a very wealthy university where most students were in fraternities and sororities and drove luxury cars. In a parking lot filled with BMWs, Mercedes and Land Rovers, my car looked like the egg Mork took to Earth. I drove a Geo Metro, basically a pregnant roller skate. It would rattle like it was going to fly apart if I ever got above 65, so it kept me from speeding :D.

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Morks’ Ride

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My Ride. Dismissed as Coincidence.

Anyway, I worked a lot of jobs and one of those jobs was running a paper route. Suckiest job on the planet. Every night I woke a little after midnight to get to the warehouse, roll papers and bag them, then deliver to three large apartment complexes, no matter how bad the weather. Also, apparently only people on the third floor ever ordered the paper. LOTS of climbing stairs.

Gated apartments were all the new rage in the 90s, and it wasn’t uncommon for the security code not to work, and I’d have to climb a fence. One complex was determined to kill me. They ran the sprinklers all year, even when the temperatures were in the 20s…so I could have fun sliding across large sheets of ice with a thirty-pound bag of Sunday papers.

I worked from one in the morning until about six, then would come home and snooze for an hour on a mattress that had been left by the previous owners of the duplex I rented. I didn’t have “per se” a bed. I’d roll out of my mattress and go to class until lunchtime, often in the same sweatpants and ball cap I wore to work. I didn’t really have any friends. Was too tired for them. When you have a paper route, it is seven days a week, 365 days a year, no holidays. The only way to get a day off is to pay another runner to take your route for a day.

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Hey, Kristen! Jeff’s here to take you to sell papers!
Image via Flikr Commons Curtis Gregory Perry

As if this wasn’t tough enough, another aspect of the job required we go door-to-door selling subscriptions. We were expected to have so many new subscriptions per month. A van would pick us up and dump us off who knew where, hand us a map, then arrange to pick us up in three hours. For three hours, we were on our own (and this was before cell phones). One time, I recall being so cold that I hid in an apartment laundry room where someone was running a dryer. I’d been out in the cold for hours with no proper coat (and no subscriptions) and I was frustrated, broke, dirty and hiding in a laundry room.

Hiding in a laundry room will humble even the best :D.

The real fun would come when I’d go to my International Law class to be lectured by a Social Work Girl (who sported a $1,000 Prada handbag and drove a BMW) how I was heartless and, in her words, “didn’t understand the plight of the poor.”

So last night I have no idea why this memory came back. I’d try to forget the whole “desperate enough to hide in a laundry room” thing, yet there it was. Maybe I remembered this because of yesterday’s Embracing the Meantime post. I can tell you that this “meantime” was tough. Every day was a new struggle.

I bemoaned that I wasn’t one of the trust fund babies who didn’t have to check in with their parole officer financial aid lady. I longed to be one of the skinny, rich sorority girls who didn’t live on generic mac and cheese and who could actually afford to buy ALL their text books. I “winged” most of my classes and had no idea how I still managed to get good grades.

Yet, in later years, I found out many of those kids never finished school. They threw up in the showers to stay thin and many struggled with alcohol and drug addictions. A few committed suicide. They had everything, yet, in their eyes, they had nothing. They had no hope.

Hope was all that kept me going, the sheer force of will that told me that, if I endured, if I hung on and didn’t quit, that life would be better. I had to climb the mountain. I wasn’t delivered by helicopter, and I was so much better for that. Many of those kids were delivered to the summit by “daddy” and it was the worst thing for them. All they had was the view, and they lacked the euphoric feeling of accomplishing something on their own. “Having it too easy” destroyed a precious part of their souls.

As writers, many of us wish we had it easier, that we didn’t have to have a day job, or have to take care of kids and parents and clip coupons to survive. We want our first book(s) to be runaway best-sellers that make us rich. Yet, I will challenge you to embrace this time and your struggles. Embrace your climb. Pay attention. Write notes. It will make your writing far richer.

Many of you right now are in a ROUGH meantime. You are in the climb of your life with no ropes and barely keeping your grip. These are the experiences that will one day make you an indomitable artist and help you create great fiction. Yes, we spend most of our time in the valley, but when we seek to achieve something big, there is always the climb. We might relish the few moments of being at the summit, but we will always remember the climb. The climb is what makes us stronger.

And the WANA Way? We are not alone! 😉

Are you struggling? Is life tough? Can you think of how this will make your stories better? Have you been through rough times and used that to fuel your fiction? Tell us about it!

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of March, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of March I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!


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    • Jennifer Smith on March 6, 2013 at 8:50 am
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    I love this. Very inspiring! Every time I go through something hard, I try to tell myself it’s good for my writing. That’s the great thing about writing fiction. You can always put those ugly experiences to good use.

  1. That so sums me up at the moment Kristen.

    I work a job I hate, drive a car that I cannot afford, with a windscreen cracked from left to right, and a check engine light that will be about 500 euros to fix. I have less than 1euro in the bank and have just today sold my bike, the last possession I have at a cut cut price, in order to buy groceries next week. We have fleas in the house (a parting gift from the cats we just rehomed) and no money to get rid of them, mold on the walls in all three bedroom and a landlord that refuses to do anything about it.

    I work my ass off and somehow find myself slipping further and further down the ramp. Yet as you rightly say, these setbacks make us stronger.
    It stresses me out, it gets me down sometimes, but we keep going, because if this doesn’t stop us, nothing will. One day I will look back at these times and smile.

    I will be a success and this climb is just my test, to see how much I truly want to get where I am going.

  2. Reblogged this on Official Site of Alex Laybourne – Author and commented:
    Another wonderfully insightful post from Kristen Lamb

  3. “Hope was all that kept me going, the sheer force of will that told me that, if I endured, if I hung on and didn’t quit, that life would be better.”

    This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for an inspiring post.

    1. Exactly this. I too worked through high school and college. 5am-9am at a bakery, full day of classes, then 5pm-11pm at a hot dog stand. Luckily, my jobs were all indoors 🙂 I look back on that and I’m glad I had to work my ass off for everything I have. It made me a better person. It’s also why I make my kids work for much of what they want. I want them to be able to hang on without quitting.

  4. Everyone faces their own pitfalls and precipices. Sheesh. My metaphors are getting pretty thick!
    Every time I go through an emotional downward spiral, I try to think about how I would describe it in words. “Gut wrenching” is so overused.. Then I immerse myself in writing. It’s is the only therapy I need. …runs to wood to knock on it….

  5. Kristen, GREAT post, and so true. We are definitely stronger for our struggles. I often say that all the parts of my life are not perfect, yet my life is perfect. Wouldn’t have it any other way. Thanks.

  6. Methinks your early life would make a great story for a novel. Have you ever considered that?

    1. Actually I am using a lot of it in my current novel. We will see how it works out, LOL. Thanks :D.

  7. Kristen, l love the line about daddy dropping the kids off at the summit and the kids only having the view. Thanks for the encouragement!

  8. I began trying to write mystery for kids 9 to 13 durning a time our daughter became terribly ill. My life shank to the size of one small room, her illness and my few hours (4 am to 6 am) before she woke. Writing and the love from my spiritual community kept me going, gave me hope.

    My life and my daughters’ life continue fill with love, creativity and peace. Yes, we are both stronger. I look forward to writing, writing, and seeing my stories and nonfiction in print.

  9. I grew up in a middle class family where Mom and Dad always managed to put food on the table. I remember borrowing the car once just after I got my driver’s license, without permission, and when I got home I got my butt thoroughly chewed out. I didn’t find out until later that they were just as relieved I made it home without mishap as they were pissed I’d taken the car.

    Turns out the left rear tire was down to the steel threads, the engine was down 2 quarts of oil and the gas tank was almost empty. This was before credit cards and they didn’t have any money because they’d bought food to feed us kids. Dad had to ride the bus to work the next day.

    It was the first time I understood how at times they were living on fumes. Later, when I weathered my own trials by money, I looked back on that and understood that someone always has it worse off then us.

    It’s these emotional life experiences that help shape us. Without these troubling times we’re like the rich kids who have everything and yet have nothing. It’s very hard to write about what you’ve never been through. It can be done, but will it have the same gritty depth? Probably not.

    1. I found out as an adult that my parents had been unable to pay my school fees at one point after my dad’s business failed. One of my teachers went to bat for me and the school waived my fees. It was humbling to hear that story much later. I’d known money was tight, but had no idea how tight. My parents knew that teacher through her mother; I can only imagine how they must have felt to ask for help as they were very proud people.

      Unfortunately, though, I only heard that story *after* I’d gone to that same teacher to borrow some money when I was broke and owed rent, like, yesterday. To this day I hope she wasn’t bitterly disappointed in me for not being able to take full advantage (at the time) of the opportunity she’d given me.

  10. Lovely post, Kristen.
    Adversity is what makes our writing so rich.
    Thanks for all your encouragement

  11. This post is a wonderfully effective perspective-shifter for me today, Kristen. Nice work, and thanks very much.

  12. Such a poignant post, Kristen, and a prime example of why you have such a heart for others. You’ve been through the fire and have stepped through the flames. Maybe not unscathed, but stronger, successful, and hopeful because of it.

    Thank you for your transparency and encouragement this morning.

  13. Kristen once again I thank you for what you write, it seems we have things in common. I woke up and have my first cup of coffee with me as I read this and I am falling in love with your words whenever I get to read them. I can relate so much to what you have to say. I haven’t been to college or sold newspapers but I have struggled in my own way and do now as well. Do I hope for my first novel to be a success? Of course I do but I do try to think realistically too. I do have that hope though. I also have four other novels either in my head or already started. I know I should do some reading on the craft that I am sure would help me be better and I will when I think of it. For some reason it doesn’t even cross my mind that often. I do enjoy reading certain blogs though which is also helpful. Thank you once again and i hope you have a wonderful day. ((( HUGS )))

  14. Very motivating post. And I’m increasingly aware of how “blessed” I was to have it so rough — our stories are remarkably similar, as I’m sure it is for many of your readers and commenters. Anyway, thanks for sharing the post and helping motivate me today. I think I’ll share it on my blog.

    P.S. Oh, and if it makes you feel any better, I would have guessed you were a hot sorority girl! You certainly look like one now. : )

  15. Best one yet and so timely. Yeah, it’s rough but as I mentioned to my writer’s workshop participants last night, I am learning to embrace all the pain and the joy because they are the food that sustains my muse. Funny how the universe (God, Goddess, Buddha, the Ancestors, etc.) put the messages in front of me right when I need them. Thanks Kristen.

  16. Another heart-wrenching post. <– That's not pity, that's empathy.

    I've been climbing for a long time. Just when I think the summit – or, at least, a nice ledge – is in site, it pulls an Old-Man-of-the-Mountain and collapses into the valley far below.

    Four weeks ago, I was laid off. Third lay-off in five years. I took it like a trooper – much more so than versions one and two. But…

    The unemployment system is no longer viable for me. Food stamps are, though, if I decide to apply and continue to be a not-so-starving artist. My funds are meager, but I'm getting by here in the meantime, and I'm still climbing – albeit in fits and starts as fear I don't like to admit to can immobilize me. <– No self-pity. I'm grateful for what I have, which is so much more than too many.

    The climb makes its way into my writing in dribs and drabs. I don't mind my characters facing challenges – they're good for them. I don't necessarily want their climb to be this tough, though.

    Cue Miley Cyrus. There's good reason why I love "The Climb." Blessings to you, Kristen. Your heart surely must be bigger than all of Texas.

    1. Lord, I feel for you, Girl. My husband was laid off last week. Lost of Mac and Cheese for a while. But tough times bring greater focus and depth. Hugs and prayers for gainful employment, and THANK YOU for blessing me with your story. ((HUGS))

      1. Hugs back to you, and prayers for your husband’s gainful employment. “It’s the climb…”

    • Thomas Linehan on March 6, 2013 at 10:10 am
    • Reply

    You’ve got to stop it! Your blog is so good I can’t do anything until I’ve read it, and then my mind reflects on what you said. Like so many people that I grew up with in central NY people just got by until they reached the top, although some never made it.
    Another great post.

  17. Love today’s post, Kristen. Thank you for your inspiring words and for sharing your story! I understand the struggles that come with the climb. My husband was laid off a month after we got married, and to this day we’re still playing catch up. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. We grew from that experience and kept persevering even though it seemed as though buying a home of our own was a long ways away. And well, wouldn’t you know that we found something in November? We went through some struggles to close, but it all worked out and we closed three days before Christmas. 🙂 Struggles and victories like that are all I think about when I need to infuse the same feelings and moments into my writing.

  18. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. you’ve given me insight on what my retirement will look like. 🙂 i wish i could down load it into my son’s brain (27 years old). ah well, put one foot in front of the other–and you eventually get some where. that’s why i write; it takes me away to a far, far better place—

    1. Positive thoughts! 😀

    • SweetSong on March 6, 2013 at 10:49 am
    • Reply

    Character building! And I’m not talking about writing them. 😉 But this is so true. I’m definitely not from a rich family, but we weren’t poor, either. My parents knew the value of hard work, and they taught me that – they always made me work for anything I wanted.

  19. i was a newspaper carrier for a while. It was a horrible job. After that i drove a school bus which was not a lot better. I am glad i graduated to a position commensurate with my college degree.

    • mitzireinbold on March 6, 2013 at 11:00 am
    • Reply

    I’ve been able to look back on my “lean years” (lean in money, not weight) as some of the best times. I had little money when my daughter was growing up but we used what we had wisely. I would juggle bills so that I had enough money to take her out for breakfast and a movie almost every Sunday. And there were years when I took her into New York for a Broadway show – usually after my income tax return arrived. We got through those times and to this day, she tells me she never felt as if she “didn’t have something.” I think it was because we had what was really important–each other.
    Good post, Kristen.
    Thanks for reminding me how darn lucky I am.
    Oh, and BTW: At the ripe old age of 65, I’m getting my degree. I’m enrolling at a local Penn State campus to earn my BA in Professional Writing. And guess what? It’s free because of my age!
    I’m going back to school and for the first time in my life, I can wear jeans to class!

  20. Lean years. Yeah, I’m swimming in them now. The sons can’t find work (though one is now my personal assistant, his first several hours of each paycheck are going to his insurances), my hubby is an actor again after getting laid off the job that almost caused us a divorce (we call that the Dark Decade), and I have no idea how I’m going to pay the property tax. Thank goodness its not due until April. Living paycheck to paycheck now for the first time ever. But they are also our happy times – hubby is so much happier now racing around town, trying to find acting work. I’m happy at the job I’m doing, and happy with my writing. Money would make things easier, but we’re coming together as a family and becoming creative in our choices. Services at Chez Ashworth will be getting cut very soon – buhbye cable tv.

    I tend not to dwell on the dark. Keep putting my face to the sun, and just glad to be living. I count myself very lucky in so many different ways. Thanks, Kristen, for another thought-provoking post. Hugs honey!

  21. Just a word from one who has not suffered any significant adversity in her life, and who is constantly, achingly grateful: inspiration is also available through empathy; empathy is available through self-awareness. Privileged people are not automatically shut out from the life of creative striving, it just requires some work and a lot of humility.

  22. I wouldn’t trade my lean years for all the money in the world. It made me who I am. Shaped me. It’s that shaping that made my nails strong enough to dig in tight NOW while I wade through my dues. Yes, it’s still tough now, but I’ve learned there’s always a peak to go with the valley. Thanks for reminding me of that wonderful, ratty apartment with the pea-green carpet and faded yellow formica.

  23. Up! Up and away!

  24. I firmly believe that adversity is a required ingredient in achieving success. Thanks for sharing your motivating story, Kristen. I remember those days living on Tang (am I dating myself?) saltines and mackerel casserole, which by the way, my cat won’t even deign to eat!

  25. Oh, Kristen, I really needed this today. I am in the climb, but with a little slip sliding away. Thanks for give me a tree branch of motivation I can hang onto today.

  26. Brilliant post — and I needed the inspiration. Thanks, Kristen! 🙂

    I have a friend who has a paper round. While it’s just houses and she cycles, not drives (because she’s been doing it since she was about fifteen and you can’t drive until you’re seventeen here anyway), she still has to get up super early, and that cuts into her social life as she also has to go to bed super early. She did it to save money. But I know it’s taught her a lot of discipline — and now she’s working somewhere else where her shifts are 12 hours and go on until 2am, so I guess that’s a different kind of endurance. I feel like I’ve got it easy compared to her, when I say I don’t have time to have a job and she makes time. I’m not sure where I was going with this … I think I was trying to say that I’ve seen people in a similar situation to you, or something. I don’t know. I’m just going to shut up and stop rambling. That’d be good.

  27. Beautiful post, Kristen.

    I’ve done the very early “mornings” as well (and still do most days still just out of habit) and I find that it gives a better perspective on time. Amazing fact, when you think you can work at any time day or night, well, then you can.

    Actually, the big point I see in this post is: Easy is damaging – a fact I very much agree with. I’ve seen the kids/people you talk about (I was always the poor kid too, crappy car, odd-hour job, small wardrobe and wishing I was the richer guy) and observed that while life was hard the “meantime” only made me stronger, while those “with every thing” squandered time and resources and couldn’t understand why life didn’t just keep falling into their lap. Easy success is a dangerous trick of life.

    Thanks for always being such a fantastic inspiration to the rest of us 🙂

  28. I, too, grew up dirt poor and can relate to hugging some strangers clothes dryer for warmth. I draw upon many of those experiences now not only in my day job (which is the only thing which prevents me from turning into one of ‘them’) but also in my writing, and it keeps my plugging along. Thanks for sharing another great story.

  29. I am amazed at how high you have climbed from such desperate times. It gives us all hope. I’m putting you on SARA and SAWG on FB.

  30. This afternoon I have an appointment to find out if a lump in my thyroid is malignant or benign. I’ve been sitting here all morning in a kind of numb twilight zone-ish holding pattern.

    I read through this post and realised this moment is time is simply the stepping stone I’m standing on right now. It’s not the one I’ll be on tomorrow, or the day after that.

    There’s great value in this stepping stone because it’s the one that leads into two very different paths.(when my brain is functioning I’m taking notes for future stories)

    …thanks …


    • S. A. Young on March 6, 2013 at 3:13 pm
    • Reply

    This post brought back a lot of memories for me. I too drove a “pregnant roller skate” aka “The Fishbowl” aka an AMC Pacer. I also spent my years at a private university and even at the state school that came after, worrying about money, that I didn’t fit in etc. (Unfortunately it was during the early 80s and I couldn’t even get a paper route because they were hiring guys laid off from factories with a wife and three kids, not some college kid.) I envy you your hope. I never felt it. I could never imagine that things would get better. I left school when I jumped at the chance for a paying job. I was in my 30s by the time I finally got my undergraduate degree. I say all of this by way of explanation. While my “meantime” seems to have lasted for most of my life, While I know that whatever my experiences were can only add depth to whatever I write, I do have hope now. I feel like my goal is attainable. I’m climbing hand over fist with the help of two people I’d rather cut off a limb than disappoint. They are my “mini-tribe” and we’re tethered together as we scale the mountain.

  31. I wrote my first book while working three jobs, and when I look back at that time I appreciate writing a book while only working one job now.

  32. Beautiful .

  33. You ignited some memories in my past with your E-newsletter from the blog. I would not trade places with you, however. I wanted the first GEO (when it first came out) because it was “cheap” and I could get a sales job while selling on “cheap” gasoline consumption. I never earned a college degree, but someone told me that if I get my Life and Health Insurance License that I would always have job, as long as I was willing to work on commissions. I studied for the two tests and I passed and they were right, I usually got hired (more than five different companies) and many managers wanted to help me succeed even selling the first policy for me to give me confidence. I quit a month later because of no reliable form transportation and no savings to eat on the road and I tried again when conditions improved. But back then Ronald Reagan, to save America from bankruptcy, wanted to downsize the American military all over the world. He did not want to be the policeman of the world. Subic and Clark was only to protect the Japanese from the big bad Communist and not protect the Philippines. My relatives at the Philippines since I was living in the United States at the time, they were worried about the military boys leaving and not spending in the country and the rent for the military bases would cease to exist; the economy of the impoverished Philippines would get worse. I was asked what the country should do. My suggestion was to turn Subic and Clark into an industrial zone and invite GM to build GM automobiles like jeeps for the mountainous terrain, as “cheap” as the GEO. GM started manufacturing the GEO Tracker and I was saying it would sell to all of Asia and the Tracker could be manufactured at Subic or Clark. But it was not “cheap”. It was three times the price of a GEO and they added expensive tires. I believe in the individual. With friends or with enemies, we walk the path to failure or success, alone. There were many who were poor and suffered worse at colleges and universities than skinny wealthy sorority girls related to former presidents.

  34. I only just started reading, but your blog is really great! I followed almost immedietly, and I don’t really follow people. Keep it up! 🙂

  35. Marketing is my mountain because I hate doing it, but after reading your post I’m going to stop complaining and just do it. Thanks. 🙂

    1. Don’t. Just talk to people and create community. Get my book We Are Not Alone or wait for my new book which will be out in about 2 months. Marketing doesn’t work. People are too inundated with ads, so most of it is invisible.

      1. -sigh- I’ve been noticing that invisibility factor. I have a great community of blogger friends but few of them are real sci-fi fans. Sadly I don’t really know how to connect with the sci-fi community. For now I’m just plodding along doing what I can.

  36. Life seems mostly to be ‘meantime’ moments, and I appreciate the encouragement you give us all to embrace and grow from those times. My college story is much like yours…paper route and all. And a few months ago my dear husband died…leaving me with the last 4 of our adopted children…3 with special needs…still at home. No income. (I am still in the ‘returning to college’ group and now, more than ever, I MUST succeed so that I can get a ‘real’ job….lord, I hate that designation, lol…and support these kids. They seem to like eating, LOL) BUT, the meantime has indeed made me stronger. And we have come ‘home’ to the Lowcountry, where even if I can’t sleep at night for worrying and lonliness, I wake up smiling because the ocean is always there singing the song of creation. It makes me stronger.
    I may never climb that mountain…but it possible I may swim this sea.
    And every experience makes my characters both more vulnerable, and more able to handle the events my fertile fantasy-bound imagination can throw at them.
    Write on! Put the meantimes to work for you…and believe.

    • Aerisa on March 6, 2013 at 6:01 pm
    • Reply

    Thanks for a great post and sharing so openly about yourself. It’s a real inspiration.

  37. Just goes to show that sometimes the bad times are excellent learning experiences! Great story!

    • harbingr on March 6, 2013 at 7:32 pm
    • Reply

    I had some pretty bad jobs, too, but the one I am remembering today, as you share, is the job working for the Green House. It had 5 or 6 of those huge 50′ wide x 100′ long green houses where they grew the plants from seedlings, arranged hanging baskets, Poinsettias at Christmas and Lilies at Easter, you get the drift. This guy was so mean he wouldn’t let anyone stop to pee. I was twice the age of most of the workers, and in the winter it was freezing, and most of the time you were watering, and WET! Sooooo, I thought I had found a way to survive by peeing in the back of the green house (it was dirt floor, anyway!)… UNTIL….I started smelling PEE!!! I couldn’t get out of there fast enough…didn’t even pick up my last pay check! I have four bathrooms in my house now, and buy TP by the CASE! (Good thing, because at 60, I’m peeing every hour! 🙂

    1. Yeah, I left out the part about having to pee in the bushes because there were no gas stations or public restrooms nearby and no one was answering their doors…BEFORE I hid in the laundry room. TOTALLY been there!

  38. I guess one good thing about having a lot of odd jobs is it’ll be useful when creating realistic characters that people can relate to.

    Oh yeah, just finished your book on blogging, awesome! Of course that means I’m going to re-read your first WANA book. Thanks Kristen!!

  39. Since I know that publishing houses are into themes and some even gives handouts on what type of novels to send for the month; the theme writing includes well-known magazines for short stories of 500 words to 20K. The month of February is long gone so time to wrap up the romance and work on mysteries. It is my idea of embracing the climb, to try in figuring out what editors want from the big time publishing houses so I can be “published and paid”. Some publishing houses suggest six months gaps, for example to send Christmas stories in June. I used to write my Christmas stories on December and I try to send it before the New Year. Mysteries are usually year around so I better go back plotting and planning and decide on what type of weapon or M.O.D. (method of death) to write on during the next several months. The goal is to write and complete as many as I can of romance and mysteries to send it during the months suggested. I can handle the climb. I can handle the waiting. I do not need a fuel-efficient GEO to sell because there is the Internet. I can stay at home selling my works. The best is; I make my own products “cheaply”.

  40. Great story! I can relate. I’m glad you are using some of your “past lives” in your latest novel. One of my biggest publishing high points so far was for AARP Bulletin, and it was about just that – hard times along the away. Specifically, scrounging around trying to find enough money to get to college when my parents couldn’t afford it. Those struggles are worth writing about!

  41. Kristen, you gave me flashbacks. LOL My old Dodge Omni didn’t fit in the parking lot at school either. I was so grateful for that car, even though it stranded me on the road several times. I was not one of the trust-fund kids, but I did OK. When I got married, we had nothing but hand-me-down furniture, and we counted every single penny. My husband and I cherish that climb we’ve been making together for the last 20 years.

    Enjoy the climb–great advice! You have certainly lived it and show it by example.

  42. Life is most definitely tough at the moment, hence my tears on reading this post

    1. I’m sorry, Tarla. You aren’t alone. We are here for you. Digital buds can be some of the best, you know :). Just keep thinking, “One day this will be a memory. A story I can tell of how I made it.”

  43. I appreciate your words of encouragement, I have already learned a great deal from your writing.

  44. Thanks for the inspiration!

  45. Hello! I’m not a writer, so my comment is not to win the prize, but just to say that I’ve enjoyed your post, and that it has taken me back to a time where times were tough, but I did survive, and believe that the experience has made me a better person. Maybe even a little bit wiser, I hope 🙂

  46. Thanks Kristen, that was a great post! Very inspiring. We took some bad financial advice a few years ago and made an investment that left us with a huge debt. When I needed some tension and motivation in my latest story I gave my protagonist a massive debt that she was struggling to meet. I knew all the ins and outs of that road, didn’t need any further research. 😀

  47. I’ve been through more than a year of unrecognized illness. The doctors have ignored me for a long time and dealing with that really toughened me and taught me to go search for knowledge on my own. That has ultimately led me to how I’m slowly curing myself now. However, during the “meantime” and the “sickness climb” I started the story I work on now, which is EXACTLY about a character standing through the meantime and how she (does not) handle it. Your latest blogs have given me some good perspective that I look forward to using in the editing process when I’m finished. (Which will be SOON!)

  48. I am embracing my life more than ever these days. I began a blog, made some virtual friends, and am learning so much about the online world. I am not making money, but I am loving every minute of it! Your blog was one of the first blogs I encountered after I bought my computer. I don’t subscribe to many, as I am selective, but yours is one I still like. I just thought you would want to know that. 🙂

    1. Awwwww, THANK YOU ((HUGS)). I really appreciate that.

  49. Your experience in college sounds much like mine, except my car’s headlights were held in place with sheet metal wrapped around them. Thanks for reminding me that what I went through to earn my degree was worth it. What I’m going through now to earn my place as a successful author is nothing in comparison. It takes dedication, perseverance, and passion, all qualities I honed and perfected during four years of college. This time is a breeze. Instead of tuna macaroni salad (my mainstay food in college), last night I made tuna steaks. I wonder what that trust fund study buddy of mine was doing. He never did anything at our sessions because he only needed to pull down “C’s” to keep mommy and daddy happy. I had to maintain a 3.5 GPA to keep my scholarships. Glad I did. This journey is nothing in comparison.

  50. Your post is so right-on. Everything we experience in life is fodder for our work. We cannot write about the human condition unless we have experienced it in all the ups and downs.

  51. Whoooo, Kristen, you must’ve been one gutsy gal! And I SO agree– the tough times in our lives are stories waiting to happen.

  52. A fabulous post Kristen that reminded me of many years ago when I worked in a soap factory for £1 per hour. I was allergic to the soap and after my shift my skin would be red raw and so painful.Poverty make you stronger for sure and gives you stamina to face the tough times and hang on there.

  53. My college car was a pukey green Pinto with a hold in the floor board that I had to strattle (I called in my Flinstone car). I sold every last item I owned to to pay for college and worked 30-60 hours a week, and I wouldn’t trade a minute of it. It made me who I am today – tough, determined, persistent. Thanks for the reminder of The Good Old Days, Kristen!

  54. I wasn’t a trust fund baby either and worked my way through college. I didn’t have time to socialize and lived with my Grandmother in a trailer in order to save money. But just like you, I value my education. My Grandma always said,”Once you have an education, no one can take it away from you.” I’d say the same thing about hope.

    • Debi on March 7, 2013 at 7:18 pm
    • Reply

    Kristen, your blog buoys me, making me realize I am paying my dues and though I may never be a New York Times best seller, I am having fun immersing myself in the worlds I create. Loving the characters I see. I am so far beyond my college experiences and life throws so many curve balls that sometimes hit me, that I’m just glad to be able to write. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger! I really get that! :)) I love your blog.

  55. One of the beauties of pursuing writing a little later in life is that I have more perspective on setbacks. So what if I get rejected by an agent? So what if someone posts a bad review? So what if I’m on my third rewrite of a novel I desperately want to get on paper? That pales in comparison to watching my baby respirated for 8 days at birth or losing a breast friend to cancer before age 40. It just takes more to knock me down now.

    I went to a private university, and some of my friends were like those you described. I still vividly recall having to cash a check on the weekends at one particular store that would let you write a $5.00 check (I didn’t have $10 in my checking account), plus there were times when I reached Sunday night–the one night the school cafeteria was closed–and only had enough money to buy two Taco Bell tacos and a water for dinner, which came out to $1.01. Sometimes, I paid in all change.

    Yep, perspective. Terrific post, Kristen!

  56. I loved this post. I read about a billionaire’s daughter who lived a life of opulence whicheventually ended in the gutter with no hope. I felt such sadness. I am happy I had to work for every penny I had through high school and university. It taught me the same lesson to strive, to hope, to achieve, to succeed. I will not give up on writing, until I am satisfiedI have achieved all I can and in doing so give my daughter a great example in her own life to hopefully follow.

  57. Kristen – I love this post. It causes me to realize that our growing up years help to shape us as writers.

  58. This post was wonderful. I grew up in the 70’s, a child of two kids, 16 and 19 years old, who were forced to marry and soon to divorce. I had very little growing up with my Mom. She taught me what a work ethic is and she did whatever she had to do for me. To keep me fed, a toy or two at Christmas and on my birthday. She’d put clothes on layaway so that I could have new school clothes every year. She was a survivor.
    She remarried, I grew up and moved away to San Francisco and I struggled. I’m a college dropout and I was lucky to land a job in banking which gave me an actual skill, one I could take with me anywhere there were banks.
    Ultimately, I met the man that is my soul mate. We met in San Francisco and have been married for 8 years. We have a son who is 6 and full of joy. I am enjoying the view.
    My husband’s father gave him the view I now enjoy. My husband grew up never having to worry about money. His work ethic is amazing, he is a wonderful father and husband and person but he’s lived a life of privilege that still confounds me to this day. I have had to learn to accept the things that money can give. Private school for our son, expensive presents from the in-laws. Three hundred thousand dollars to put toward the home we live in on a quiet cul-de-sac.
    My question to you: what happens to creativity when suddenly you don’t have to struggle anymore? Or your struggles become so vastly different that some would deem them no real struggles at all? My husband and I have had long discussions about whether an artist needs to struggle to be great at his art?

    1. Even privileged people struggle. I’ve been on both sides of that. To assume because someone is financially blessed that all of life is Easy Street is false. If we are blessed enough to not have those external struggles, we must develop empathy. It’s easy to forget that ur an outlier. Reading, volunteer work, talking to others who are struggling and being a great listener are priceless skills.

      Often when we are blessed with privilege we feel like frauds, like we didn’t work hard enough for something. For instance, while I had struggles other places, God blessed me with a very sharp mind. I made As and never read the text book. I could write papers in one night that were better than papers that other students had struggled for months to put together. This always left me with a feeling that I didn’t deserve what I earned. That maybe I’d slipped through and really was a fraud. All humans struggle. We all suffer even if it is unique to us.

      If you look at my struggles, they are nothing compared to what a woman in Afghanistan is going through. Thus, everything is relative, but all struggle is valid. Embrace it. Grow. Learn and let it give you a tender heart toward others.

      1. I was “C” to “A minus” all through high school without reading the textbooks, just paid attention to the teacher. I had the “Cs” when the teacher was a babysitter and we spent most of the class time reading what was supposed to be read at home. I spent the hour daydreaming or staring out the window or falling asleep. A good teacher discussed the textbook, even if nobody read it the night before. It caught up with me at college because I was not a reader of anything causing me to drop out. The reading materials at a major university were tremendous. Speed reading techniques would be recommended for the college bound. I did not read novels. Today, I suggest what English teachers suggested in high school if one does not like to read novels – to read newspapers and magazines like Sports Illustrated if you like sports. With the Internet and E-Mail subscriptions and Social Media and a comment inbox and Yahoo! News and search engines to find research for a novel, I read more in a day than I did in a year during my educational years. The struggle is personal. I quit or I dropped out of things I did not like. I love Mizzou and I regret not studying. During my last semester of the two years I dreamt of being a college professor teaching anything while living on campus and writing novels when Industrial Engineering no longer engrossed me. There was a McDonald’s on campus. It helped in the dreaming. It was across the campus library. The other private college I transferred to, I dropped out to leave a bad environment of spoiled rich kids thinking that they have the right to play “hazing” games on anyone and we suffer the consequences for their actions.

      2. Thank you for your reply. I have empathy in spades. I recently volunteered with homeless youth but I had to stop when my emotions began to get the best of me. I read, write, think and love.

        You are right, we all have struggles and I am still working on myself every day.

  59. I’m 21 years old. Currently living with my mother, sister, brother, and puppy (my baby 😉 ) in an old hotel turned rooms for rent. I’ve started writing a blog series every other post on it, calling it “hotel hell” lol. Writing about in on my blog is helping me stay positive and see the funny and valuable lessons in it. We’re sharing three bathrooms and one shower with the entire building. Our room is 9 feet wide and 20 feet long. Half of the room is a kitchen. The other half gives us just enough room to keep our beds, some suitcases and a tv.
    But its better than where we were (in a bad situation with a junkie). Now we’re on our own but we’re safe and happy. I’m just figuring out who I am, as it wasn’t safe if I was myself. I had to hide inside myself for so long that now its strange to try and peel back the layers, try and figure out where I am.
    Writing has been my only constant in life. I’ve changed everything about the way I write, learned so much. And being here has humbled me further. I thought I had it rough before. 😉
    I’m glad I’ve had the life I have so far. Its opened my eyes to a lot of things. And though I can’t quite put my finger on it right now, I know that once I’ve moved forward and we’re out of here, there will be many things I’ve learned and that will help me with life and my writing.
    Plus I wont’ have to beat old ladies with a stick so I can get a computer at the library before schools get out and teens invade.
    On one hand I’m sorry you had to stick that crappiness out, but on the other hand I’m not. It made you an awesome person because you let it shape you that way. I really loved your “meantime” post. Thanks for being so open. It helps me know that I AM going to move forward even if it feels like I’m stuck. 😀

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