(This summer, while there have been a few road trips for our family, I’m taking a virtual trip down memory lane back to when my writing adventure began. Today’s flashback takes us to 2012.)
You know that saying about one step forward, two steps back? Well, 2012 was that sort of year for me.
After publishing two short devotional collections gleaned from previous blog posts, I intentionally created a series of posts to last the whole year long with the intention of publishing them as a collection the following year. Week by week, Be Like a Tree grew into a full-length manuscript by the end of the year.
And with the rising success of ebooks in general, I contacted the publisher of my first book about either adding an ebook edition or terminating the contract and getting my rights back. Surprisingly, they agreed to the ebook…at such a high price point I knew we’d never sell a copy. I officially closed that chapter of my journey, regained the rights, reformatted the entire manuscript as an eleven-week devotional journey (since many readers had mentioned they were using it during their personal devotions), and released the 2nd edition of Pigskin Parables: Exploring Faith and Football.
While my non-fiction work was growing and finding readers, my fiction still struggled. Despite positive reactions from contest judges and critique partners, I knew I’d need a bigger door to get my foot into…and made the decision to try to write a straight romance. The he said/she said alternating point-of-view story found in supermarket check-out category romances across the country.
So, taking one of the ideas in my dream folder and applying everything I’d learned about plotting, I sketched out a romance between a football coach and an athletic trainer/tutor who hated football. And started writing.
But life happened. My part-time day job turned into occasional full-time projects that left little free time or creativity. Physically, a few health issues stole my energy until it was all I could do to maintain the busy family life as a wife plus mother of three kids. The teenager hormones hit the house hard, especially from our special-needs daughter, and I found myself under even more stress. And I wasn’t the only one with personal issues to wrestle through and as the pressure built at home, it was hard-if-not-impossible to write about a hunky football coach when occasionally ticked at the real coach I was married to.
Then came the news that my grandmother had stage 4 cancer that had already spread to multiple organs including her brain. This was the woman who’d helped inspire my love of books with regular additions to my favorite series for my Birthday and at Christmas. The woman whose bookshelves I scoured every time we visited. The one to whom I’d someday hoped to dedicate my first novel.
With a heavy heart, I printed out my two completed manuscripts, had them spiral bound, and sent them to Oregon so she would get to “see” my books before it was too late. A few weeks later, I was able to see her just hours before she died.
In the aftermath of grief on top of the previous issues, I found myself floundering and took some time off from writing to rebuild my health and regain my focus. I truly believe there are seasons to grow and seasons to rest…and 2012 was one of the latter for me. (And believe me, I caught the irony of feeling a personal drought while blogging about a fruitful tree planted by the waters.) But I held onto the hope that seasons change and prayed for a different season in the year to come.
What about you? Have you ever felt a season of personal drought? Did you try to power through on your own strength or allow yourself the space to heal and get refreshed? Was there someone in your life who inspired a dream?