If a Story Is In You: A Writer’s Dream by Nicole Eva Fraser

faulkner yellow if a story is in you it has to come outI started writing as a kid and my dream was always to be a published writer. When I was 10, I wrote a 50-page book called Night of Wonder about a girl who time-traveled in her sleep.

After I dropped out of college, I was a busy working mom with small children, so I wrote at night when my kids were sleeping—a screenplay and a 300-page novel. At the time, nobody in publishing was interested in my work. I threw the screenplay and novel away. But my dream lived on.

When my kids were older, I went back to college at night to study writing. I had some great professors, learned a lot, won the college writing award, and started on a new novel. I thought I was all set.

So I went to writers’ conferences to meet the New York agents and editors. But to them, I was a nobody, a zero from Cleveland. My stories didn’t matter and the industry bigwigs didn’t even want to hear them.

Helping other people helped me stay positive. I got active as an adult-literacy volunteer. As I taught my students to read and write, they inspired me with their life stories of strength and their dreams of better things ahead.

I started ghostwriting for friends. I developed the creative reading method Peace Through Fiction, and led PTF story-sharing sessions around the country. I helped bring StoryCorps to Cleveland to record the stories of students, founders, staff, and tutors at Project Learn, the adult-literacy organization where I served.

Successful in my day job, I accrued over 20 years of full-time editorial experience as a writer and senior creative consultant in a major corporate writing studio. I won awards for my creativity and innovation. But all my successes were linked to the corporation.

I just couldn’t let go of my personal dream, my passion, my drive to be a published writer in my own right, telling the stories I wanted the world to hear.

So when my employer offered tuition reimbursement for graduate school, I got into a master of fine arts program for creative writing. I knew the program would make me a better writer and consultant; I hoped it might help me make some publishing contacts, too.

Eventually, things worked out. A professor recommended me to his publisher—Second Wind. They published my first novel in 2013, and my second novel is coming in March 2015.

At last I had arrived! I’d proven myself, beaten the publishing odds, and become an industry insider. The future was in my hands. Success!

But people kept asking me things like “Is your book a bestseller yet? Are you famous now?” And since my answers were no, I started to wonder if I’d failed.

Then I thought about the readers who have written to thank me ever since my first novel got published. My writing covers a lot of sensitive topics and it helps these readers feel understood and less alone.

Hearing from my readers made me realize something. My dream to be a published writer wasn’t ever about making money or getting famous. It was always about the fact that our stories matter, and it’s important to share them.

Nicole Eva Fraser is the author of The Hardest Thing in This World, released by Second Wind Publishing in October 2013, and I Don’t Think It’s That Simple, forthcoming in March 2015.

13 Comments

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13 responses to “If a Story Is In You: A Writer’s Dream by Nicole Eva Fraser

  1. ‘My dream to be a published writer wasn’t ever about making money or getting famous. It was always about the fact that our stories matter, and it’s important to share them.’ I couldn’t have said this better 🙂

  2. Good for you, Nicole. I admire/envy your passion and determination. While I, too, am not motivated by money or fame, my path was different. Growing up, I was too busy being a good little girl to become friends with my imagination. But in later life, I realized that people, often young people, said my perspective helped them, so I decided I really did have something to say and wanted to say it. Fiction was my vehicle, though I’m now shifting gears to non-fiction. By the way, I’m about to leave for a week in sunny Puerto Rico, and plan to get your book to take with me. Thanks for the post.

  3. Nicole, my motivation for writing my book wasn’t money either, although I certainly don’t have anything against it. We humans are inherently social creatures with frailties and needs to belong. I’ve discovered through my writing, that sharing our experiences not only validates us, but also our readers who can relate. Although we like to think of ourselves as unique, we really need to believe we are like others. It’s comforting and reassuring and rewarding. And sometimes educational.

    My best wishes on your new release in March!

  4. I still have my first “novel” in a box under the spare bed. I wrote it with a multicolored pen on unmatched scraps of paper, and under the bed is probably the best place for it. But I can definitely relate to your dream, and to that awkward wondering when people ask if your book is a bestseller yet. It’s so easy to wish the answer was yes instead of just rejoicing in having told the tale. Thank you for a wise reminder.

  5. Ann Chandonnet

    Good for you: You followed your dream. So many people give up when they have the “nobody” experience. In your heart you knew yourself and stuck to your guns. Congratulations on being a two-time novelist!
    Ann Chandonnet

  6. Good for you Nicole, it takes passion and determination to keep writing in the face of little, or no interest. I speak from experience! Congratulations on being published.

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