Thursday, May 22, 2008

My Journey, or There and Back Again

copyright kim smith 2008

When I was asked to write about my journey into the realm of published author, I really didn’t know where to begin. Then, for some reason, Tolkien’s magical poem came to mind.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

This tells my story better than even I could. My post is mostly for the writers out there who want to believe they really should write the story of their heart. I am here to tell you, yes, you should.

My writing life began when I finally listened to my heart. When I finally accepted I was a writer, and I had a story to tell, there was no turning back. I allowed myself to indulge in dreaming. But sometimes it seemed like stolen moments, because I had kids, a husband, aging parents and a job. You have that, too? Never fear.

Let me encourage you. You CAN do this.

Please do not let anyone ever, ever, ever tell you that you can’t do something because you have no __________ (insert here). No education, no experience, no whatever is NO EXCUSE. Just do it. If you let them, the naysayers will steal your dreams and that should never happen.

Finishing a book was a satisfying feat, and one I will always be proud of. If you are a new author, do not fear. You have it in you to finish, yes you do. The thing is, you just have to find the story that wants telling all the way to the end. I wrote a fantasy first, thinking I was the next Tolkien. Ha. That one will never see the light of day, but I learned I had the staying power. I could do beginning, middle and end. And so can you.

Then, I wrote a historical romance and learned how to research my butt off. I got to travel to different places following my character’s lead and nudging. Sometimes as a writer you have to be LED down the road leading to your future. Oftentimes the book itself will grasp your hand and drag you along. This book, too, will always languish in a drawer, but I kept telling myself, you are a writer. I never stopped believing.

And, finally, when I began to really, really pay attention to the sorts of stories I loved to read, I found my own voice, my own style and, viola! a mystery series was born. Writing it came so easy. It poured from me like water from a faucet. I think this is a sure-fire sign you are on the right writing track, cause if the writing is hard, you won’t enjoy the journey and seriously, the destination is not the main thing. The journey is what really matters.

Then began the real “road leading off until it met some larger way”: the submission phase. For those of you who keep picking your little story apart and finding reasons not to put it into an envelope and put a stamp on it, I challenge you. What can happen will astound you. Not only will you send it out, you will find interest. You will hear things about your story you never believed would ever be said. But trust me on this, if you never stamp it and send it, you will never know what you are missing.

And along came acceptance. Oh my soul, that is like the biggest piece of pecan pie with vanilla ice cream anyone ever tasted! Just knowing someone out there “gets it” is the most fabulous experience of a writer’s life. You will never know what “yes” feels like until you stick your neck (and that book –that work of love of yours)—out there for them to digest.

And digest it, they will. And they’ll pass it off to others to digest, too. Like your new best friend, your editor. She or he will discover the nuggets in your book you always knew were there- and they will pull them out from under all your dumpy writing and make them shine. Oh yes, editors are just gold-miners in book-people clothes. They know where to find the real stuff. The real gold nuggets. The stuff that will sell.

Are you ready? Have you gotten your envelope addressed? Is the stamp licked? Or even in today’s new electronic world, your fingers poised to hit send? Go on and do it. I promise it is the best thing you will do today. You may just get to delve into your own version of the Road Goes Ever On. I wish you a fantastical journey!

Kim Smith is the author of several short stories now in print at Mouthfull of Bullets and her first cozy mystery, Avenging Angel will be out in the fall of 2008.


Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Kim, what an inspirational piece! I loved the theme - "you can do it!" And yes, folks, you can! Keep these articles coming, Kim. Great stuff!

Karen Harrington said...

Excellent encouragement! Thanks and keep it coming.


Anonymous said...

Very inspiring and true!

Marta Stephens said...

"The journey is what really matters." Amen.

Kim Smith said...

Thanks you guys. I have enjoyed every day that I have written anything, book, short, poem and yes, even article. Every word we place in written form matters. We should keep remembering that every book that makes it paves the way for the next one and the next.