Friday, June 28, 2024

Change is Scary, but Moves Us Forward - Cheryl St.John

I have always had a rule I teach and that we practice in my critique group: Don’t ever budge on that one element that excited you about a story in the first place. That spark that inspired you to write the story is what will carry you through the middle and to the end. Not all books are easy, even when you love your subject matter and characters, but books are double down hard to write if you lose the joy.

As writers, we do our best, but the lack of joy eventually shows in our work, our health, our personal lives. I had been under contract for over twenty-five years, writing two or three books a year, and everyone knows a career isn’t a writer’s only responsibility. Most of us have spouses, children, grandchildren and parents. I realized I needed a change.

By fate or a stroke of luck or God’s timing, whichever your belief, a line closed and I didn’t have an option book. I’d been in that place before and it had felt scary. This time it felt good. Like someone had taken an 800-pound boulder off my shoulders. And in this timing of events, I also had a new grandchild due.

To my daughter’s immense relief, I told her I’d care for the baby for the first year. I had a few weeks to decompress and prepare, and then the baby came. I had forgotten how exhausting it is to take care of an infant, but it was a good exhaustion, and I enjoyed every minute of it. After the baby was a year old, my daughter had a neck surgery, and I cared for both of them at their house every day, so this hiatus stretched into about sixteen months. During that time, I eventually missed writing. I got ideas. The desire was there to tell stories, but I knew I didn’t want to go back to where I’d been before. I wanted to write, but I didn’t want to experience the pressure of deadlines.

I made a decision to only write books that I love from that moment on. And to do it in a manner at and a pace that I set for myself. Choosing to make a change was a huge step. Indie authors don’t have the distribution advantages of traditional publishers. They don’t get advances. They do all the work. But they can choose to do the writing and marketing at a pace that’s comfortable for them, and there’s a lot to be said for comfortable.

ANSWER: The heroes in those stories are all steadfast and honorable.

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