The Personal Apocalypse—When are We REAL Writers?

Raise a glass to yet another BONK on the head.

Raise a glass to yet another BONK on the head.

It would be lovely if, when we decide to pursue our dream to become a writer, that friends, family and acquaintances would roll out the red carpet of support. Maybe some of you are fortunate enough to have had this happen, but I’d wager most of us could have joined a cult of UFO worshippers in New Mexico and received a better response.

New Level, New Devil (Thank You, Joyce Meyers)

Any time we seek to do something remarkable, something that deviates from “normal”… expect rejection. I was “fortunate” to experience a personal apocalypse so massive, that up was the only way to go. With a misdiagnosis of epilepsy, I’d lost my job, my home, my savings, my health, my identity, and my pride. I’d suffered such a sweeping personal extinction that I very literally had nothing left to lose.

Why not become a writer? I’d always wanted to, but was too busy trying to please those who would never be pleased.

Brief History of Kristen’s Failed People-Pleasing Attempts

I’d joined the military to make my father happy. He wasn’t. After being a high school drop-out TWICE, I worked my tail off and won a full medical scholarship to become a doctor and please my grandparents. My grandmother’s first words to me when I announced I’d won a $250,000 scholarship?

“They must have been short on their quota for women.”

I fractured my back in an ice storm in 1995. No more medical scholarship, so I majored in what interested me.

I earned a degree in International Relations, specifically Political Economy of the Middle East and North Africa. I was going to change the world! The day after graduation, I boarded a plane for Syria and lived with refugees and mingled among the Bedouin and tried to see how things could be “fixed.” They couldn’t. At least not by me.

Defeated, I returned home.

Lost as to what to do next, I went into sales to please my grandfather (the business brain of the family). I was terrible at it. And yet I kept trying to fit myself into worlds where my strengths and talents had no place. In trying to please others, my health deteriorated drastically from stress. I remember every day going to work and having to pull over and puke. I hated what I did THAT much.

After I lost everything due to that fateful misdiagnosis, I decided to become a writer. I’d been working on my tome for years. I was sure it would be a best-seller and shut up all my naysayers. It wasn’t. It was a train wreck. I realized this when I joined a critique group and they promptly filleted me and my manuscript.

Thus, in a new personal low, I reverted back to trying to please others and got another brilliant idea.

“I know. LAW SCHOOL.”

I bought an LSAT book but never studied. I guess I thought I’d learn through osmosis. Anyway, it would have been great if I’d tanked, but I didn’t. I scored a 168 without studying. Now I was truly in a panic. Until the day I received my scores, I hadn’t been honest with myself. I didn’t want to be a lawyer. I’d just thought maybe my family would let up on me for a while then I could write while I “studied” to do better.

But, no. I was accepted into one of the top law schools in the country.


Crisis Point

I’d always believed in service. I was a Rotarian and had done mission work and humanitarian work for most of my life. So, my mother (my sole advocate) and I went to talk to the church elder to get some advice about law school versus being a writer.

For some reason I expected him to support my writing dream, but was basically told I was a fool and most writers wash out and starve and that writing wasn’t a “real” job.”

*Makes mental note of how many BOOKS were lining his office*

When I left, I was in tears and ready to give up on writing. Had it not been for my mother, I would have. I’d have gone off to law school then later hurled myself in traffic because I would have been chained to yet another profession that wasn’t my calling.


Faith is the belief in things ahead that won’t make sense until we look back. This is one of the reasons I blog so much to teach you guys more than craft, more than social media. I want to teach you that it isn’t over until we give up and that failure provides the necessary ingredients for success.

If I hadn’t been a high school dropout, would I have had the tenacity to never give up?

If you read my new book, it’s loaded with neuroscience, economics, epidemiology and humor. If I hadn’t majored in Neuroscience for three years, then earned a degree in Political Economy, would I have been able to tether all these concepts together in a book that could help artists?

The same analytical skills that helped me on the LSAT helped me pull apart what worked and didn’t work with selling books. Why don’t ads sell books when they sell plenty of mascara, diet plans and computers?

If my first novel had been perfect, would I have had to take on jobs editing and reverse-engineered every book I’d ever read to learn? Could I teach craft had I naturally been “brilliant” at it? If I hadn’t landed on my @$$ so many times, would I have developed the sense of humor that makes all these concepts FUN?

Failure as Fertilizer

When we first moved into our new home, our yard was essentially mowed field. The dirt was nothing but rocks and hard clay. When I planted my first flowers, they shriveled and died. So I planted different flowers and they died too.

So then I planted different flowers and they caught on fire and fell into the swamp died too. But, finally, after rounds and rounds of dead plants, the flowers started to thrive. All that had died had provided what was missing, the vital ingredients for life to THRIVE.



Your “failures” feel like bull$#!&, but bull$#!&  makes fabulous fertilizer :D. You just need time, work and patience to bloom.

Embrace the Apocalypse

Becoming a writer isn’t easy. We get called “aspiring” writers until we land a sweet three-book deal with Random-Penguin. No one calls a pre-med student an “aspiring doctor.” They don’t call a pre-law student “an aspiring lawyer.” So, as I’ve said before, screw aspiring. Aspiring is for pansies. You are NOT an aspiring writer, you are at the very least a “pre-published writer”.

Writers write, so if you are writing, you are a WRITER.

Ignore the naysayers. They’ll be your biggest fans one day when you prove them wrong. Raise a glass to your failures. They will provide the ingredients for magic in your future writing. Let the old fall away. A lot of an apocalypse is releasing the old, the out-dated and the junk that doesn’t work.

I had to let go of trying to please others. I had to let go of failing at destinies that weren’t mine. I had to let go of amateur thinking and take my job seriously, even if no one could walk into a bookstore and buy my book (yet). Know that you have stories only you can tell, subjects only you can teach or explore (for the NF authors). You were born to do this and ignore anyone who tells you any different.

If your friends and family don’t support you, the WANAs will. Join us on #MyWANA on Twitter or on WANATRIBE. When we try to hold onto the old and fail to embrace the apocalypse and embark on our true journey, we look a lot like this.


What are your thoughts? Did you have a personal apocalypse that prompted you to throw caution to the wind and become what you always wanted to be? Are you like me and struggle with people pleasing?

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of July, 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. 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).

NOTE: My prior two books are no longer for sale, but I am updating them and will re-release. My new book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE.


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  1. Thank you for this post. I really needed the boost. For years I never allowed myself to thrive. I hit 40 and said ‘screw that’-I need to live for me. I now have a manuscript due out in August (if I survive this final round of edits) and a plan. I’m not corporate by nature but I make it work. After all, I need to put kibble in my fur-child’s bowl and food on my table. You’ve been an inspiration to me. Thank you.

  2. Once again, you’ve hit it right on the head. I have a college degree in Hotel and Restaurant Administration. I’m now a paralegal lol. And I write by night. I told my children as they were growing up and even now while both are college students, to figure out their passion. Find a way to make it their living and they’d never be unhappy with their choice. If they chose “wrong” in college, so what? Every experience we ever have contributes to what we are today and knowledge builds on itself. Do I use the Hotel Restaurant stuff these days? Well, yeah. Not only did I pick up some incredible knowledge in the School of Business (where HRA resides at Florida State), but I can throw a mean dinner party 😉

    I was 50 when I had my personal apocalypse that forced me back to doing what I had wanted to do since I was five – write. And everything up to that point was pushing me in that direction, I just never saw it until that moment.

    Thanks for another great post, Kristen!

  3. I LOVE YOU! You are amazing. “Faith is the belief in things ahead that won’t make sense until we look back.” I’m remember this forever

    1. *remembering

    • Suzanne on July 26, 2013 at 10:45 am
    • Reply

    Well-said, Kristen! I know this will be a help to so many people, me included.
    Favorite take-away: “Your ‘failures’ feel like bull$#!&, but bull$#!& makes fabulous fertilizer.” Keep writing!

  4. Thank you for another well-timed post. I am a recovering people-pleaser myself (still with too much backsliding, but I’m getting better). The hardest part is telling yourself it’s OK when people get mad at you for not being pliable as an overcooked spaghetti noodle anymore. It’s always good to be reminded that the world won’t end if we try to do what we want to do sometimes.

    I have, however, been very fortunate in that my family has been very supportive of my writing.

  5. Your post hit home. As someone who comes from a corporate america family, I’ve struggled with pleasing others. Yet I hated my job so after getting 2 blood clots in my leg from flying I figured the universe was sending a pretty clear message to do what I loved – writing. So I left and now I write and learn…

  6. I have always called myself an aspiring writer, but what you said clicked with me just now. So I will call myself pre-published until I get published. Which i will no matter by a house or by indie or self! Thank you!

    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement. This post made me realize that whatever I write will be better than not writing anything at all. Finished two chapters today and the ideas are swimming in my head. Thanks again.

  7. Wow! I’m sharing this on my blog, too. Nothing short of amazing! Inspiring post! (Yes, I know, there are a whole lotta exclamation points, here, but I’m blown away by this blog.)

  8. Yep, right on the mark as usual. Ask a professional athlete how many contests they’ve lost. The world is full of famous losers; Micheal Jordan and Abraham Lincoln come readily to mind. I always tell new members of our critique group, “If you scribble words together and form sentences, you are a writer. You might be terrible, but that’s irrelevant. If someone buys just ONE of your books, even for .99, you are now a professional (getting paid to write) by definition of the word. Now if I could just put all my FB posts into a book, it would rival War and Peace in volume… probably not in quality. It’s simple; writers write. Good writers write a lot and great writers write a lot, read a lot and learn a lot from others. Keep up the good work, Kristen. We all need a cheerleader from time to time (nope, not going there and you can’t make me….)

  9. Yep. I think I need a people pleasers’ anonymous club.

    “Hello, my name is Heather and I try not to rock the boat. Ever.”

    My moment I became a writer was when I finished the 3 Day Novel Contest. Because I finished. For the first time, I drafted out an entire idea. Then, I spent the next day crying, because I let go of characters in my head that had been with me during my cross-country move, during my friend’s death, during my other friend’s depression, and during the toughest time in my life, when I let love in. They were there for me, and gone. And the story never lived up to my expectations. But, what it did: told me I have almost never been so happy doing anything, as when I was writing. And that, that is what keeps me going when I don’t ‘feel like it’.

  10. This post brought back memories. One of the 1st post of yours I ever read was on the topic of failure and how the only way to succeed was to fail because it meant you were doing something.

  11. Kristen, I could relate to a lot of what you wrote–I have finally started doing what I’ve always wanted to do–write poetry–and have had some success but have gotten strange reactions from some colleagues, friends and family. It’s like I’m doing something faintly embarrassing–they’re sort of vaguely encouraging but it’s like they have mixed feelings about it. I don’t get it! All I really expect is to hear, “congratulations, that’s great!” But I get these weird vibes –anyway I’ve learned to ignore them and just do what I want!
    In your case, you never failed, you actually succeeded at so many things–you just failed to notice what you really wanted! I find that is the case with so many people–we are just blind to our true calling until one day we aren’t and suddenly it all seems so obvious!

  12. Thanks for sharing this Kristen!

  13. Oh my gosh! I could have written his post, sans some of the amazing accomplishments you’ve experienced! The problem is, if it’s the WRONG accomplishment, what does it matter? For me, I wasn’t happy until I finally allowed *MY* dream to flourish. Sure, I’m “smart enough” to literally do anything I want. (800 verbal sat score without studying? yes.) And oh boy – I do understand the going-to-work dread. Been there! I’m so glad I’m not the only one. Kudos to you. <3

  14. I think it is by going down different roads (professional tracks) that we find out what our true calling is. Like Thomas Edison, who only needed to find one way to make a light bulb, the other 2000 ways he tried just showed him how not to. Thanks for reminding us all that if we’re not failing, we’ll never succeed. At anything!

  15. Kristen this post, like others of yours I’ve read so far, is inspiring and informative. I am teaching myself Inbound SEO with free lessons from and you nailed the part where they teach to cater to your ‘buyer persona’. I am am sold! Rebloging now…

    • dlwatson on July 26, 2013 at 11:27 am
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    Thank you for this post. I really needed to hear this today. I’ve been getting increasingly discouraged to the point of wanting to chuck it all out the window and crawl under a rock. Your post gives me what I need to get back up, pull on my boots and push ahead. Thank you.

  16. Awesome and inspirational post, Kristen, I love it. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but worked in marketing and graphic design for almost 25 years before I began to get very ill with multiple diagnoses and chronic pain. I switched to adult education in a non-profit to ease the stress of my job and was able to work for only a few years until I couldn’t keep up with that anymore and had to retire from the workforce. While waiting for disability approval, I decided to take up writing again, and after the first year, was able to self-publish my debut poetry book. I needed to prove to myself that I was still capable of being productive on some level, and was very proud to accomplish that. I’m now working on my second poetry collection, plus I have two novels in other genres in progress. Because of my health issues I’m not always able to write; I have to fit writing in during ‘less pain days’. And because I’m unable to travel, it’s not plausible for me to attend writing conferences, much as I would love to. But I read all I can about my craft to keep learning – and blogs like yours are so helpful and inspiring to me! Thank you for all you do for writers! ~ Julie 🙂

  17. Reblogged this on Musolé Kambinda and commented:
    Kristen Lamb’s latest post is inspiring information about tenacity, overcoming failure AKA personal apocalypse. I can relate. But hey, when you’re down, it doesn’t mean you have to stay down…it’s just a clean slate from which you can reinvent yourself and scale new heights. Follow #myWANA / subscribe!

  18. I love your blog Kristen. I’d always had stories in my head, but everyone said I couldn’t write. It was too hard, But four years ago, looking through the book store, I just made the decision that I could and I would! Thanks for all the inspiration. My dad used to encourage me, he really was the only one. He’d say…”You didn’t fail, you just found out what didn’t work, and you may do that again, but eventually you’ll find out what does work.” Now I’m writing my fifteenth YA fantasy and loving it.
    Elizabeth Loraine

  19. For the longest time I had a neon sign on my forehead that read “sucker”. Whenever anyone asked me if I could sew this or that for them, could bake this or that for a function, and the list goes on, I would say, Of Course. I would say of course even if I already to much on my plate. I think some of the letters are starting to run out of neon and I don’t plan on replacing it. I need to do what I want and not always what everyone expects me to do. This is a great post!

  20. I had started writing when I was six years old; my great-grandmother told everyone that I would be a writer. I didn’t know that until I was in my thirties. I took theatre, pursued my dream of acting, working in a bunch of odd jobs trying to pay my rent; I ended up working in a Rheumatology clinic – I hated the job, but it was the catapult to returning to writing. While I was working in the clinic, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. My partner knew I was miserable, and now having a hard time with full time work due to my illness; he helped me quit and became my amazing supporter and patron in returning to writing. Within a year, I had published two short stories, started a blog on my journey with RA. I am now happy in my work and called myself a writer even before I had the opportunity to work at it full time.

    I say, if you pick up a pen and set words to paper, you are a writer.

  21. Keep fighting the good fight! 🙂 Great post, Kristen. On the topic of rejection, I’ve saved each and every rejection letter I’ve gotten from Publishers. I know everything is electronic submission now, but I saved the paper letters with the purposeful intent of using them to wallpaper a bathroom. I figure it’s a motivational thing- “Look at all the people that said no.” Haha. Take care, KL.

  22. Funny thing — I’m published and still didn’t start calling myself a writer (to other people) until this year. (I’ve never referred to myself as an aspiring writer.) I think it’s mostly because I’m known as “the tea lady” as a result of owning The Tea Trove the past ten years. People think of me as an entrepreneur. That’s cool. I approach writing the same way I approach my business.

    Personal Apocalypse: Leaving a job I loved for ten years to start my own business.

    When my family learned I planned to start a tea business — something I knew nothing about — they weren’t completely supportive. Some of them were worried because I was leaving a successful career (working for someone else). I challenged their views, and moved forward. They witnessed my usual determination and started helping. (Just like they always do – I have an awesome family.) The business struggled, but by the 6-7th year, it was profitable.

    Our business made it over the hump. Most businesses fail in the first five years (At least, those are the stats.) One thing that made my situation different was my view of failure and its role. My husband and I made hard choices, but expected that the end result would be a healthier business. It was a calculated gamble. We closed our store, purchased property that included out buildings, and relocated the business. We never stopped serving our customer base during the transition. Now, we operate all four of our businesses from our property.

    Be okay with being the turtle.

    Approach writing like a small business entrepreneur. If you have that type of drive, failure is a temporary blip. You assume some things won’t work. You expect the end result to be X (profit, happiness, whatever.) Pygmalion Effect. I never expected The Tea Trove to fail. Not once.

    I expect to continue publishing. I expect to find an agent for my picture books. I expect to self-publish and traditionally publish. I expect that my work won’t get rejected every time I submit it to an agent, publisher, or editor.

    Is this easy? No, but there are lots of resources available to help you build up your confidence, courage, risk-taker attitude … Start with books aimed at entrepreneurs. They cover it all, including marketing (a.k.a platform.) And, surround yourself with a combination of cheerleaders and drivers (Other entrepreneurs are a good fit here, but be selective. You won’t gel with everyone.) You want honesty, compassion, knowledge, humor, and someone who pushes you. When I look to fellow writers, I look for these types of traits.

    Thanks for another thought-provoking post. I’m new to your blog, and it’s making me think about topics I should blog more about.

  23. I really needed this today. Sometimes when things seem to be going well is when I question if I’m on the right track. Crazy, huh?
    My personal apocalypse started with the death of my grandmother three days before Christmas in 2009. She is the first one to believe in my dream. She bought me a class at the Institute of Children’s Literature when I was in high school. I didn’t finish it. After her death, my mother had her second bout with lymphoma and had a procedure that nearly killed her. She was told her cancer was incurable, but she is still in remission. My job at the middle school working with learning disabled teens amped up my stress level. Throw in the fact that they kept laying off great teachers and had no money to help us support our kids and I became a bundle of nerves.
    I was encouraged to return to college to get my degree. All these teachers thought I would become a teacher. HA! Now I’ve completed my English & Literature degree and the first draft of my third novel (yes, the first two were insalvageable garbage). I still don’t know if I believe in my dream becoming reality, but I know I’m sick of wondering. I’d rather be working toward it.

  24. Kristen! I am amazed at how you exactly open up the ‘wound’ I so carefully keep patched up. 🙂 Yes, I am a people pleaser, but don’t they say recognising the problem is the first step to healing? Well, I hope I’m finally in my way to becoming a ‘me pleaser’.

    • Lucy Lit on July 26, 2013 at 12:15 pm
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    From one people pleaser to another, thank you. I’ve spent decades doing for others and as I approach my 56th birthday tomorrow, I am nearly finished with my first novel. Aside from a supportive spouse, I haven’t said anything to anyone because of my subject matter which will shock everyone who knows me. *sigh* Still trying to please others.

  25. This came at a perfect time. I started my own website 3 weeks ago, invited all my friends, family, Facebook friends and the 250 members of my Facebook group and after 3 weeks only 19 people signed up (and one was my father). The people that i though would support me, suddenly ran off and hid. I wasn’t selling anything either! Just wanted them to read an occasional blog! Hoping that people in Australia will love me more. 🙁

    • malindalou on July 26, 2013 at 12:20 pm
    • Reply

    That scene from Labyrinth is too fitting! Good post!

  26. I’m currently sorta in that writer apocalypse. My husband’s job keeps us afloat but he works far more OT than is healthy so we have good things to eat and money for necessities plus a few perks (internet for us all, cable for him, and holiday gifts).

    With my loans coming due and on their last deferment because I am, apparently, terminally unemployable, things aren’t looking good.

    I’m at the point now with my poor health and viable job prospects (about the only job I can get will require my hiring a sitter on half the days they want me to work and basically work for free on those days). Writing is my best choice.

    I no all the advice already telling us not to expect any money ever, it’s all over, and not just from others who don’t consider writing a “real” job, but from other writers too. I agree it shouldn’t be all about the money, but I’ve reached the point where I’m applying psychology from one of my failed branches to realize why the advice about “making it” and not holding your breath, but writing anyway bothers me so much. It completely discounts the benefits of a placebo effect and faith.

    Yeah, your sole reason to write shouldn’t hinge on money, but the more you believe your chances of making it are slim, and your chances of decent pay are even slimmer, the less likely you are to notice and take full advantage of the opened doors and opportunities that lead to success. Many psychological studies show that a person’s belief significantly increases their chance of success in line with those beliefs.

    I get tired of those articles, not because they don’t have a point or hold no truth, but because I feel like, the more they contribute to dispelling my faith placebo effect, the less likely I am to believe in my work enough to succeed on a level that’s helpful to my finances while allowing me to do something I love.

    Also, I completely get the harsh pain felt when a grandparent says such hurtful things. I almost never ask for favours, and when I do I always pay back as soon as possible. Regardless, at one point I lost power during the summer and my son got a heat rash. I asked my grandma for a cousin’s new phone number (gram’s house was full with other family members) to see if she’d let me stay with her for a few days until I get my power back so my son’s heat rash doesn’t get any more aggravated. My grandma looked at me with a sour expression and, without emotion, told me the homeless shelter has AC.

    It was all I could do to keep composed while I pointed out that I had a home, I just needed a family or friend with space to help ease Michael’s heat rash a few days. She gave me the number, but still. She was also extremely resistant to helping me contact my brother and having him watch my son while I went on some job interviews.

    Family should never be saying things like that to you.unless you’ve done something drastic and need tough love. If you were one of my cousins I’d be giving grandma a good talking to next I saw her (I’ve always been better at sticking up valiantly for others who were wronged and suck at it for myself). I’ve lectured a few older family members before >.>

    Anyway, thanks for another encouraging update!

    1. And clearly I meant know the advice, not no. Cut me some slack, pretty please? I always do my best editing after I hit enter and I’ve been up all night with insomnia, only just now getting tired.

  27. Thanks for the story about the flowers in your yard. Totally makes sense.

  28. I appreciate how your ‘series’ of posts has narrowed the field of the ‘apocalypse’ from the widest screen to our own personal journey. Nicely done.

    Been a pleaser all my life; it’s how we were raised. Make your parents/school/community/ country/God proud. Frankly, I don’t see that it is a bad thing at all, as long as we recognize that we must also do what works for ‘us’ as individuals. We all have a different path to doing our best.

    Thanks for sharing yours, Kristen.

    Wish I could have been at the workshop today, but end of the month is NEVER the right time for my poor budget. I think I need a calendar of your courses so I can plan ahead…and someone to help me decide where to jump in to make a good start where I need it most. As if I knew what that was, lol.

  29. I like you even more than I did before! I can’t believe your journey. What a bumpy road. I’m a people please too. Hate that.

    I’ve never understood why writers say “aspiring.” I’m an author and before I was published I was a writer and a novelist. 🙂 I still am.

    Thanks for sharing and for all the wonderful advice.

    • ravenlaw on July 26, 2013 at 12:55 pm
    • Reply

    Timely post indeed. I’ve been struggling with my writing lately and getting disheartened. When is the fight going to be over? I learned to read very early and loved books. In kindergarten I told the nun I wanted to be a writer and an artist. She told me I couldn’t be both and someday I’d find something to do that would be more useful than either of those things. In grade school, it was all about diagraming sentences and writing reports. No free writing. 🙁 In high school I tried to take creative writing, but the teacher said I had qualified for the advanced program and that the creative writing was for the “less” talented students. (?) In college a writing class was an elective, like basket weaving or sewing slippers out of pieces of leather.

    My dream wouldn’t die even though enough people stomped on it. My husband told his friends at work that I was working on becoming a published writer and one of them replied. “That would be the greatest story never told, right?” Laughter hurts, although having my mother ask me “So when do you think you’ll get more than a dollar for your writing?” is pretty damn hurtful. Funny how family thinks they have the right to say things a stranger wouldn’t say to your face. Fortunately, not long after she said that I won a contest and got more than one dollar as a prize. 🙂

    *insert raspberry*

    Apocalypse: When my husband’s company closed its doors and headed to China. It spurred me to stop treating my writing like a hobby and make it a job with a goal.
    It’s been a long haul and I’m still fighting the prejudice, jealousy, and ignorance of people who don’t respect my dream. Yes, ignorance. I can’t tell you how many people hear say, “I always wanted to take a three week vacation from work and write a book.”

    *slap forehead.*

    I entered this challenge thinking that at some point the battle would be won and the fight over, but It’s never over, is it? There’s always the next story. The next snarky comment. The boot to the a** over a revision, feedback, or review. There’s always someone who thinks you don’t deserve to win or that you got “lucky” this time.

    I really do love this post because it proves that being a writer isn’t a goal, it’s an ongoing challenge that consists of many battles, not just one. A writer has to gird up his/her loins and KEEP them girded. A writer has to carry a club to fight off the doubt and insecurity that comes on the tail end of success and failure.

    Of course, it never hurts to carry Band Aids, too. 🙂

    Laurel W.

    • standonthewall on July 26, 2013 at 12:55 pm
    • Reply

    Wonderful! This was so inspiring and motivating. I am going to work hard on my book tonight!

  30. I have no idea what I am….and honestly….just don’t care! My feelings on it…is that as long as I am doing what makes me happy (and now my wife)…then ALL IS RIGHT IN THE WORLD! And my feelings on my being writer have always been the same. I write for me….and if someone reads my writings and enjoys themselves or gets something from it…all the better!

    Great post! Scott

  31. My sweet little momma always used to say after anything new I tried, “I’ve always wanted to do that.” It could be riding a horse, buying a car, going on a trip…whatever. It was always the same. Until the day I told her I’d written a book. She got the oddest look on her face and then said, “I’ve never wanted to do that before.” Even though I’ve now finished five books, very few people know about them. My closest friends and family know but that’s it, and fear is a large part of the quotient. I work with catty women and they would love the chance to pounce on my writing – so they’re out of the loop. I also live in a small town with lots of folks who would snarl their small southern noses at my dreams. BUT I’ve been battling those fears lately with my own blog and by reading others like yours. Your enthusiasm is contagious and your insight is so refreshing. You make me not so afraid! I’m beginning to embrace this gift (and that’s what writing feels like to me). Thank you for your time, your words, and for being a cheerleader to every writer out there!!!

    • Sarah_Madison on July 26, 2013 at 1:18 pm
    • Reply

    Wow. This one really hit home for me. Not because I’ve failed spectacularly (at least, not yet!) but because I’ve spent my whole life doing what I was expected to do. Sometimes, they were things I wanted to do at the time, but desires and your sense of purpose can change as you age (and get tired, too). I finally came back around to writing after telling myself that it would never be more than a hobby–and have been delighted to see my stories getting good reviews and selling moderately well.

    You’d think that would be sufficient to make me smile, yes? Well, it’s a bit like mastering a certain level of riding competition: once you win blue ribbons at the beginning levels, it’s time to move up to the next one. Where you immediately discover that you are at the bottom of the heap again. I’m struggling with my bottom of the heap blues–particularly when I see other authors release a new story and it soars to the best seller lists, while I dink around somewhere mid to lower list.

    Your post today has helped me see that it’s about learning the new skill set and continuing to plug away until you can sail around that course of new, higher fences with ease…or hang up your boots. 🙂

    • Patty H. on July 26, 2013 at 1:25 pm
    • Reply

    I love this post and I love all the comments, because I too, am a pleaser of the people. Any and all people. My “paying job” is in a service industry and by nature, I’m a giver. I give away my time like it’s free–and we all know it isn’t. You pay for it somewhere (I usually pay with frustration and resentment at myself). I have a finished romantic suspense, a second one almost finished and a third plotted and started, and belong to nationally recognized writing groups but still have difficulty calling myself a writer. If I gave myself the respect and time I give others I’d be much farther along in my writing career.

  32. It wasn’t until I had my own apocalypse that I stopped being a pleaser. I was coming to the end of my 20s, hated my job, relationship troubles and wondering where the hell I went wrong. I spiraled into depression, but fought back and now I see my whole life in a different way. I can tell the highs because I’ve seen the lows, and life is too short. I have a different day job, which I enjoy, and am happily married and I write and I love it. I might not be a NY bestseller, but I love what I do.

  33. Thanks for your vulnerability. I’m at a coffee shop right now getting to register for a writer’s conference, wondering if I should bother. I think I will bother.

  34. For me, right now, a perfect post. I’ve failed, a lot. And succeeded in things that I was allegedly good at. When I was done working I went back to school and discovered that I was good at writing fiction.Yeah. It’s easy when you’ve got someone to critique your work weekly. Now I’m alone and I have to weed and replant every day I sit down to write. You learned and grew from the set backs you’ve had. I’m kind of using you to remind me that the trip forward isn’t easy. And if it is you should check because maybe the error is waaay bigger than you imagine. Thanks.

  35. I started taking writing courses and getting serious about writing about three years ago. I did it because I was getting tired of not pursuing something I always wanted to. At my first writer’s group meeting I introduced myself: “Hi. I’m Dennis and I’m a writer.” to which the group responded, “Hello Dennis.” It scared me to death to say those words but, it felt so good afterwards. The excitement I feel when turn off the computer after a good writing session is what keeps me motivated.

  36. great story, it was my life unfolding, and you have a voice

  37. Writing is all about finding ways around failure points. If one tactic doesn’t work, try another. It’s got more failure points than most careers because (a) everybody thinks they can write, and (b) nobody values it commercially. Not the way we value being a financier, or an industrialist. Yet the creativity demanded is much the same, or more.. True of most of the arts, of course.

  38. your posts always fuel me up anytime, any day, anywhere. be blessed for sharing such vital messages to the world

  39. Reblogged at, Kristin. This post came at just the right time. I especially love the fertilizer remark. Thanks for always being a soldier against my inner demons. 🙂

  40. Great reminder. My husband is working through this people pleasing stage–and he married me, who is a butthead raised by buttheads who picked our route in life and did what we wanted and darn the consequences. I like to think I’ve been a good influence on him. 😉

  41. I do not know about those aliens at New Mexico, but I did not want to scoop up horse doodoo of show horses even if she was worth $30 million American dollars after college. Toto can marry her and live at Kansas. Yes, I am enjoying my poverty. Arthur stayed author not Oscar. I do not worry about people claiming that I am not a real writer. It is like college. You do not want to hang around with morons in a fraternity so they bad mouth you and tell women not to date you and tell teachers to hurt you grade, but you still have to study and go to classes and you have to pass your tests or you will ruin your education. It did, but I do not have to be friends with them fraternity athletic studs today. They were from some of the richest families in America and related to former presidents so the trouble and bad mouthing could be damaging, even today. This is not college. They can yell at me and call me names because I do not want to sit with them at the fraternity table at the school cafeteria or I did not want to hang out at the fraternity house. I will not care because I am not at the Liberal Arts college – a playground of rich kids. I found out some of those rich kids were seminarians and living like priest in a laymen world. No wonder they did not want me dating beautiful rich women and for me not to be ambitious of having a source income, live like a beggar priest. They are still my troubles today. And the current administration would be afraid of wealthy fraternity boys, even if they were not good enough to join those in college. But who really cares. Write on. Just write it. Write till you drop.

  42. Yeah the heart of it is I’m a people pleaser, but I do please myself, or do I? I’d say I honor my parents, do they honor me? Do they have to?
    I feel like a writer … Waiting for real critique so I can go forward. Maybe it won’t be thrilling or great or maybe I’ll stumble upon writing a good book after several tries. It’s a thrill to make a chapter!
    I know there is something for me and so I must find it.
    Basically, I would like some readers and take them on a journey, not sure if I can without English training/I’m a nurse. I do have many stories swirling so we’ll see. Nice post, thanks.

    ~maybe it will be crap, my two books that is … Soon I will know.

  43. Kristen, my heart breaks for the younger you who hated your 8th career as much as you hated the previous 7 and who thirsted so desperately for someone to step up and be all like, You can please me if you become a writer. But no one was going to step up and say that because the writing dream was your dream, no one else’s. I’m so glad you stuck with it. I’m so glad you’re an advocate for writers today. You’re like a big old rainbow of beauty on the web. *hugs*

  44. Reblogged this on Cynthia Stacey and commented:
    Awesome post Kristen. I am amazed and awed by your perseverance you have a knack for inspiring me and others like me. Keep writing. I am glad you didn’t stuck with law school. You would have been bored or held in contempt if court a lot. Lol. Love your posts. I am rebel logging this to inspire others with your words.

  45. Thank you so much for being personal, I truly appreciate all you’ve been through, and respect your strength and perseverance through failure. Thanks for being so truly inspiring! One of my favorite lines: “Raise a glass to your failures. They will provide the ingredients for magic in your future writing.” This is so, so true. Keep up the awesome work – I love reading your posts!

  46. I was very moved by your post. I’ve experienced my own personal extinction, from which I’m still in recovery. I’m very happy for how far you’ve come and the learned lessons you’ve applied to your life. Odd the paths that lead us to where we now are. A couple months ago my son asked why didn’t I start writing again? It was the proverbial light bulb. Why didn’t I? Writing, I can still do. So, now I am. Your words encourage me.

  47. I am known in the area as being picked on by the wealthiest family in the world. If they say that I am not a writer, people and government would probably play along. But I plan on writing anyway. I do not play along. I am already poor. I already lost my reputation.

  48. You’ve put up a lot of posts that struck a chord in me, but nothing like this. I smiled. I laughed. I cried. Thank you.

  49. Reblogged this on My favourite posts by other people and commented:
    Another fabulous post from Kristen Lamb. My favourite quote:
    “Your “failures” feel like bull$#!&, but bull$#!& makes fabulous fertilizer”.
    This should become my new mantra!

  50. Best one yet and the others that came before were bloody brilliant but I do not
    TWIT”! I’m sorry, I just can’t get past the name. I’d love to join WANA and if the “cubicle babies” that started twitter would rename it, I’d be in like a shot but I keep hearing,”You TWiT, what are you doing?” Anyway, to get back to what’s important Kristen, I was amazed by you before, now I am in awe!

  51. you are so good at cheering us all up and inspiring us to move forward. thanks Kristen. I haven’t had too many failures because I did well at my boring-marketing job that I hated. My problem is I’m a non-starter at the moment! Love how you had these big ideas at least, acted on them, and then saw whether they worked for you or not….it’s really great, I’m sure in hindsight at least, for what you have been able to learn. The part about you being ill from the misdiagnosis though–heartbreaking. So glad that is over and done!

    • Kali Anthony on July 27, 2013 at 8:59 am
    • Reply

    This resonates strongly with me. I always wanted to be a writer, having started my first book at 16, on an old manual typewriter. Instead of pursuing it, when I finished school my parents convinced me to study law, rather that what I really wanted to do, which was something more creative.

    I kept plugging away with poetry and short stories until 15 years ago, when all my creativity ceased. It was too painful to keep going because of the lack of encouragement from those around me so I felt for my sanity, it was best that I give up.

    That was until last year, when my terminally ill mum gave me a notebook. It contained poetry and stories written by three generations of women in my family, starting in 1936 with my grandmother, then my mother, aunt and last of all, me.

    When mum handed me that book she told me “Read this. You need to write.” So I read the book, the poems I’d forgotten about, and started my first complete manuscript which I am currently editing.

    For the first time in my life, this feels like the job I am meant to do. I might appear to be a lawyer by day, but I am at heart, a writer. That’s what I put as an occupation on my FB page the day I started writing again, and I’m not ever going to stop. Anyway, there are too many characters in my head bursting to get out, and I owe to them to get them down on paper!

  52. Absolutely right on all counts! You have to live for yourself. Take risks! The most important thing is to plan, practice, and leap. The planning is fun, the practice is hard, and the leap is terrifying! But if you do it right, you get to fly, and that is worth everything.
    I tried doing the pre-med route to please my
    partners in college and I was miserable, so I switched to journalism and have made my living writing and editing. Now I’m leaving my cushy editorial job to return to school, as I’ve become fascinated with illustration and web design. Scary, but following my heart has always proved me right.

  53. You are truly an inspiration. Thank you for mixing heartbreak with humor to help us along our writing journeys. Yours is my favorite morning-coffee-imbibing blog!

  54. When I was in fifth-grade, I lived at Detroit and my dream job was to be a corporate lawyer for General Motors to work at the international corporate headquarters in Manhattan. I wanted to bring factories to my birth country of the Philippines for the Asian market. My Industrial Engineering teacher and advisor told me not to worry about getting accepted to Law School because I was already in the School of Engineering. I needed three elective classes to add like Business Law to enter Corporate Law School at the University of Missouri – Columbia. All I had to do was get my A’s and B’s. Well, I did not study. I stayed two years; after my first semester I wanted to transfer to the School of Journalism to be a writer someday instead. Mizzou is the best School of Journalism at the entire United States. But I stayed in IE and eventually dropped out. But I AM A WRITER, a real one, by my definition.

  55. Your words will make me go away and cogitate maybe even thinking that I could do some writing without losing my soul – thank you

    • Lalo on July 27, 2013 at 6:24 pm
    • Reply

    I too had a job that was bad for me. I used to love it but got into a bad situation and decided I was just tired of dealing with people. Big surprise for me was that my mother has the most supportive of my decision to become a writer. My daughter, an amazing talent in her own right, has been the least supportive. In fact, she’s been downright against it. My husband just does not know what to do. My sister informed me she wasn’t going to read any of my books. Okay. Some of my friends think I’ve lost my mind. A couple of them are excited for me. None of it matters. I am going to write. I’ve always wanted to write and I’m going to write.

  56. I think you are some kind of funny genius.

    1. Funny, perhaps. Genius? I’ll take the compliment 😀

        • Lalo on July 28, 2013 at 6:53 pm
        • Reply

        I think you are a genius. I think she nailed it.

  57. I stopped feeling like a “real” writer a few years ago when I got stalled on my novel and couldn’t figure out how to move forward with it.

    And yet, I’ve maintained a homemaking blog since 2008. I’m still writing and sharing in a way that I find fulfilling. In that sense I never stopped being a “real” writer. Strange how one can write and yet not feel like a writer.

    Still the characters in my novel call to me and I need to find a way back to them and the story they have to tell.

    It would be so wonderful to be drawn to receive the critique.

  58. Wow, thanks for such an inspiring post, you’ve given me a boost after a day of writer’s block. I’ve held the semi-secret ambition of writing for a living since I was at university, but fell almost too easily into a career after graduation and have been too scared/busy/career-orientated/lazy/insecure to pursue writing seriously ever since. I finally started my own blog this year to get back into writing regularly, but this post has reminded me not to give up on even bigger writing dreams!

    Good luck with all your future writings 🙂

  59. Wow, I found your past endeavors fascinating. 🙂 You should be proud of yourself for accomplishing so many things. My jaw dropped at some of your family’s comments!! I know how it feels to feel like you are failing because you didn’t pursue a certain career and decided to finally embrace that writing is the thing you must do. But really, we only have one life, so why not chase that dream of writing down our passions and stories that have been floating around in our heads for years? I say it is worth it. Kudos to you! I agree, we should consider ourselves “pre-published” writers instead of that nasty “aspiring writer” term.

  60. Thanks so much for sharing your background. I am 42 and doing cleaning for a few hours each week ‘to support my writing habit’. I have had to put out of my mind the years of university and the ‘real’ job I once had before having several babies.

  61. I’m a chef (not cooking), a disinterested bookkeeper and I try to ignore everything to write. I have just finished reading “Are you there blog? It’s me writer.” I’ve been trying to get hold of a copy of We Are Not Alone, but so far it’s a no go 🙁 Not even a second hand copy. Which is good for you, means no one gets rid of them when they are finished reading it. I can understand that, I can see I will be rereading and highlighting my copy of AYTB? for years to come.

  62. Brilliant, Kristen. Thank you for sharing your journey and for the firm but loving kick in the ass. I’m three weeks into a life as a full-time writer–a writer who has been published but has yet to earn a cent. I wake up every morning with teetering between panic and joy. Each day is a battle between the demon of doubt and the angel of hope and most days the battle seems to be a draw.

    I turn 44 in a few weeks. The fear of spending the next 44 years–if I’m blessed with long life–wondering what might have been if I’d just taken the chance, if I risked believing in my stories and my ability to tell them was greater than the fear of failure. I’m blessed with a partner who is willing to sacrifice financial security in the short term to allow me to see this through–to take the hope and determination as far as I can. We shall see. But I’ll never regret trying.

  63. As usual, great post! I’m a middle school counselor and when I talk to my students about their hopes and dreams, I always mention that when I grow up I want to be an author. And I tell them about all the things I thought I wanted to be along the way: ballerina, graphic designer, lawyer, (I studied but never took the test when I realized that the idea of being a lawyer is what I wanted, not the actual being a lawyer bit) etc. The only thing that I’ve wanted to be consistently is an author. 😉

    • Addy Rae on July 29, 2013 at 12:10 am
    • Reply

    Um… I’ve totally had the red carpet support from everyone around me. My obstacle hasn’t ever been support, it’s always been my health. I guess it balances… I wouldn’t get much done at all without support because it’s so hard to do even daily tasks, so it’s not much of an extension for family/friends/fiance to cheer on anything I try to do!

  64. Loved this post. You have lived quite a life!

  65. This did give me the warm and fuzzies.

  66. Great post. It resonates so much. I was never a people-pleaser but until ten years ago I was a computer programmer. It was a sensible job and it put food on the table. It didn’t make me very happy, but who is happy these days, right? On the other hand, I’ve always made up stories in my head, although I didn’t write them down. I was a dreamer. Until one day I decided to write my dream as a story. From that day, it took me five years until I dared to call myself a writer. It took another five until my first novel was published. But every minute of the last ten years I was happier than when I was a programmer. I guess I’ve always been a writer after all. I just didn’t know it.

  67. THANK YOU for posting this! It is so reassuring to know I’m not the only one who has been lost and sidetracked – and to know that just because it took me so long to find what I am truly passionate about doing doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing! I too career-hopped and degree-hopped; I didn’t begin writing until I turned 30 – but once I did, I couldn’t stop. I now write every single day, even though it isn’t my “job” yet. But I have a blog that people seem to enjoy, a cache of poetry and short stories, and I plan to try my hand at writing a book next year while I’m on vacation. It feels right; I AM a writer, more and more each day… Thank you for providing a community where we can all support each other and find our way together. Kudos!

  68. I got the bug to write while teaching my class. I made up stories and they seemed to want to read me more than their textbooks. Of course I put their names in the works. I made them short and sweet. Example on my blog is the cat story. I tried to put a moral into the story but sometimes I feel on my face. Now I am retired and thought what the hell, might put out some of my writings and past experiences out there and if someone likes them all well and good and if not well they can just turn the page. I remember hearing that Picasso use to draw pictures on the beach with a stick just for the pleasure it gave him. Every evening the tide would come in and gave him a fresh slate of sand for the next days painting.

  69. Excellent post Kristen. I even tweeted one of your quotes, “Any time we seek to do something remarkable, something that deviates from “normal”… expect rejection.”~ Kristen Lamb
    Very motivational and inspiring. Thank you!

  70. Thanks Kristen. As usual, you are right on target. I swear sometimes it’s like your inside my head. I am caught between trying to please others (my family mostly) and live for myself. Really struggling and it’s affecting my health with phantom pains and lots and lots of time spent worrying about nothing. I’m giving up some volunteering that I’ve been doing over the last two years in order to devote some of that time and energy to myself and my writing. You’re an inspiration. Thanks. Colleen

    • Rachel Thompson on August 1, 2013 at 10:09 am
    • Reply

    Gee you sound like me. I lost everything more than 3 times. One big nut was my 35 year career going down the drain ( I was very good at it) and all my stuff with it ( Marriage too)- Best thing that ever happened and thankfully all my suicide attempts failed. I went from near-millionaire to homeless and insane. But that didn’t make me follow my writer’s dream- it took crashing my motorcycle, getting run over by an oncoming pickup truck, getting trapped under it and set on fire to get me writing. Half a year in a hospital gives one a lot of time to think. No I don’t write about tragedies, I do journalism while writing sci-fi and fantasy. I’m still on fire but now of the writer’s sort.

  71. Huh, what? Did I hear you say that REALLY is a light I’m seeing way out there at the end of the tunnel? Wowsie wow, I’m off and running…

    • Mzrose on August 8, 2013 at 3:33 pm
    • Reply

    Reblogged this on Writes of Life and commented:
    Another good read

  72. Excellent post. Savvy, interesting, helpful.

    • Rhonda RANSFORD on September 6, 2013 at 9:43 pm
    • Reply

    WOW! I love this quote “Failure as Fertilizer

    “When we first moved into our new home, our yard was essentially mowed field. The dirt was nothing but rocks and hard clay. When I planted my first flowers, they shriveled and died. So I planted different flowers and they died too.

    So then I planted different flowers and they caught on fire and fell into the swamp died too. But, finally, after rounds and rounds of dead plants, the flowers started to thrive. All that had died had provided what was missing, the vital ingredients for life to THRIVE”

    I think I might be ready the THRIVE now.

  73. Hello Kristen, I am glad you have written this blog, because you have inspired many. The number of answers indicate how little people believe in themselves and often they should be reminded that we should live according to our personal values and believing in our strengths and passion. Neuroscience and neuroplasticity have proved it. I have to admit that ethos was needed for me to understand you more. Thank you.

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