Much of the U.S. is in a drought right now. Thankfully not to the point of Dust Bowl phenomenon. However, crops are struggling or have failed, leaving farmers in the red. In the interim, thousands of firemen have been battling wildfires in Colorado and Utah that have destroyed homes and countless acres of coveted forrest. Where is the rain? You don't have to look far. Floods and storms, lightning strikes, and fireworks which ignite in a 15 second blitz, are taking place all over the world leaving collosal damage in their wake. How does one rebuild when catastrophy robs you of everything you cherish, when sails are lax and your ship appears to be dead in the water?
The answer. Rain and wind CAN and DOES come.
I started writing in 1992, when a story about two Army scouts rode into my head. I spent years researching post-Civil War, the West, Native American Indians, the Sioux, the Army and on and on and on. (In what I like to call the Black Hole of Research.) Years went by as I learned the process of writing without any direction. Through it all, my characters wouldn't leave me alone, even after I put them on hold for years at a time. Those were frustrating years, when my children came first and writing had to wait. With LTC gone on TDY constantly, I had little time on my hands. And with four little children looking to me to be both parents, I could not afford to put them off. I made sure they never felt like I would.
My creative drought continued, but I finally wrote that first book, all 220,000 words of it, filled with enough plots for 5 books and a new writer's flaws. Of course, the book got rejected. I trimmed it down. Rejected. The writing wasn't strong enough. (I beat my head against the wall. What did that mean?) I rewrote the book with a new plot, new villains and turned it into a paranormal historical. Rejected. But here a slight breeze began to tickle my sails - I was starting to get feedback.
Parched earth repels heavy rain, but a slow mist encourages absorption.
Years passed. I wrote other books, joined my local writing chapter, worked on craft, took online classes, went to workshops and conferences. And more importantly, applauded and watched from the wings while those I respected signed publishing contracts. Most of the time, I felt abandoned on that windless sea, blistered by the heat, my stomach roiling with salt water. Many times I entertained the notion of quitting, that I was talented and could do more productive things with my time. But when writing is in your blood, all you CAN DO is write.
I entered contests which tore out my vitals, needling my body with new holes I didn't want or need. And yet, I still entered. Why? Because of that tiny seed of hope that one day I might succeed. In 2010, I finaled in the RTTA contest. In 2011, I finaled in the RTTA Legend Award contest. I did not win, but finaling was the goal. (The parties alone were worth it, right my southern friends?)
Here's the most important thing I learned about contests. If you don't send your ship out, your ship cannot come in. And as with any submission, persistence pays off.
I'm so glad I kept submitting and sailing with my weathered eye on that horizon. Today, the book of my heart is going to be published by Crimson Romance, thanks to my fabulous editor Jennifer Lawler. Crimson has opened my sails. The wind is now at my back. My helm is steered toward a distant shore and new adventures lay ahead. But none of this would have happened, had I packed it in during the long drought or cowered in the corner during the storm. None of it would have happened without the help of my friends, critique partners, and professionals who helped along the way.
We hold our futures in our hands. We can lay seeds of doubt in rocky soil or weed infested earth or we CAN hold onto hope as we till the ground until our hands bleed. The important thing is to plant one good seed after another. Our ultimate reward, through drought or diluge, will be that coveted harvest.
C - create
A - activate
N - navigate
D - determination
O - override
Develop a CAN DO attitude. Keep going whenever the heat rises and there's no end in sight. The world is BIG ENOUGH for all of us. And success isn't more than a wish away.
"Never, never, never, never, never give up." Winston Churchill
Who or what keeps you going when drought or storms cross your path?