This past week, I was asked to speak at the Friends of Reynolda Manor Library’s annual author event. And I was the author!
Can you tell I was thrilled?
When I walked into the library that evening, I came face to face (literally) with a poster detailing the event. This poster I speak of had a very large picture on it of, you guessed it, me! Walking in, I actually had to pause and take a deep breath to prevent myself from doing cartwheels down the hall. I should explain that this was really the first time I’d been asked to speak about my work…my actual published work!
Now, besides being thrilled at having an actual published book, you should know that I’m a talker. I’ll talk to anyone at any time and am not the slightest bit fearful of speaking to large groups. While most people list public speaking at their number one fear, I do not. Frankly, the more people who want to sit and listen to what I have to say, the better!
I was met by the woman who initially asked me to speak at the event. She showed me the room gave me a briefing of how things were going to work. She then stepped over to the podium and lifted up one of those little cordless microphones that clip onto your waistband and enable you to walk around the room while talking without fear of tripping over a wire.
Now, those of you who know me, or for that matter, have ever spoken to me, know that in most instances, my voice does not require a microphone…sadly. I politely declined the microphone after surveying the room and realizing that my voice would reach all corners with little to no effort – not because of the room dimensions, mind you, but because I’m such a big mouth.
The topic of the discussion was “A glimpse into the world of publishing” so I thought I’d speak about the process I went through to get my book published.
Though most have the assumption that writers work alone, I don’t think everyone truly understands just how solitary the process is. For the most part, it is you and your thoughts in front of a computer for hours on end. For someone like me, who tends to be a bit of a social butterfly, the solitude can wear on you.
Thankfully, Mark Zuckerburg came along and gave us Facebook, which provides me the social outlet I need minus the noise while I’m trying to write. I’ve realized that what I need isn’t so much the social chatting, but the feeling that I’m on the right path, that what I’m doing is somehow ‘right’ and that I’m not alone in what I’m doing.
While I’ve found that Facebook and Twitter provide some of the positive reinforcement I need, visiting the websites of authors I admire provides the rest. And this is mainly what I spoke to those wonderful ladies about last week.
Each of the author websites I visited listed the authors work, a little about them, contact info, and something that I found particularly helpful while writing my novel and trying to achieve publication…
Each and every one of them had been where I was at some point in their career. At one point, they’d all felt their work wasn’t the best it could be and had thrown pages of their writing away, received enough rejection letters to wallpaper one or more rooms in their houses, and struggled with their work. I can’t tell you how comforting it was to realize that someone whose work I’d read and admired was, at one time in their life, feeling the same as I was at that moment. They’d all started out alone, writing something they hoped would be good enough to be published.
Just knowing that all of them struggled with the exact same things I was struggling with gave me the push I needed at that moment.
Perhaps the most powerful story I’d read was that of Jillian Medoff. Her most recent book, I Couldn’t Love You More, had just been released and I’d read it and loved it. Interestingly enough, she’d achieved quite a bit of success with two of her earlier novels, one of which was even made into a Lifetime movie.
Then the drought came. She sold nothing for close to eight years. EIGHT YEARS!!!
But she never stopped writing. She persevered, knowing that there was more inside of her that needed to be said. I so admire that.
This journey is a tough one, I can tell you that. But if we want to write, we don’t give up. Period.
And I can tell you that speaking to that group of women the other night, having them talk about my book and ask questions about my characters was absolutely surreal.
I won’t forget that feeling for quite some time.
And I’ll keep writing. I promise.
Donna Small is the author of Just Between Friends and the forthcoming A Ripple in the Water, both from Second Wind Publishing. She resides in Clemmons, NC where she is at work on her next novel, and I can assure you, she’s struggling with it every day.