Monday, 23 November 2009

THE HELP YOU GET ALONG THE WAY

I’m blogging today about becoming a finalist in the EPIC Awards. Now wait, don’t go yet. This is not “all about me”—I promise.

Most people that I’ve met in the last half of my adulthood would never describe me as “shy,” but as a youngster, I was—horribly. That’s one reason I turned to writing. It was a great way for me to get my feelings out without actually having to say them. I could have someone else say it all for me.

I imagine that’s how many of my fellow writers started, too. I sometimes wonder what might have happened had we all known each other when we were younger. Would we have developed into the writers we are today, or would we have found our “niche” with one another and NOT turned so much to writing?

If you can relate to the “shy” part, then maybe you felt this way, too: I was never competitive. Not like so many sports contenders might be. The things I enjoyed, writing and music, were open to everyone, I felt. I am not a “joiner” and I am not one to enter a lot of contests. I entered Fire Eyes in the EPIC Awards, and something odd happened when I did.

From the moment I entered, my attitude about myself changed. BEFORE I entered, I thought, “I probably don’t have a chance.” But my mom always used to say, “If you don’t enter, you certainly are NOT going to win!” I remembered those words, and sent in my entry that very day. Once it was sent, I began to feel some confidence growing. As I analyzed WHY, here’s what I came up with.

Fire Eyes was a joint project. I wrote it, but I couldn’t have if I hadn’t had the cooperation and support of my family—my kids and my husband. While I was writing it, my oldest sister, Annette, was constantly asking about “how it’s coming” and she was the one I could bounce ideas off of. Once written, my business partner read it for glaring mistakes, and my best friend of 45 years read it for moral support. The Wild Rose Press accepted it, and my editor, Helen Andrew, was so phenomenal in helping me mold it and shape it into the story that was released last May. My cover artist, Nicola Martinez, did a superb job on the beautiful cover. With all these people behind me and my story, my confidence rose. Whatever would be, would be—and entering the competition was a win/win situation. Even if I didn’t make it to the finals, I would still have taken the chance and had the experience.

When I received the news Sunday evening that my book was, indeed, a finalist, I thought immediately of all the people who had helped me get to this point; people in my life who had faith in me, and in my ability, and in the story itself. I thought of that saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It’s true, even in the broader sense of our lives as writers. The experiences we had growing up, people who encouraged us even then, our spouses, our children, mentors and teachers we’ve had along the way, and peers that have helped and encouraged us. Editors, artists, publishers and organizations such as EPIC that give us a chance to compete and strive to be better and better.

Does anyone have a “special person” that helped them along the way? What about a “collection” of special people? With Thanksgiving drawing near, I’d like to say that my “collection” of special people in my life is the thing that I am most thankful for above all else. Without them, my dreams could have never happened. I could never have done it alone.

20 comments:

Helen Hardt said...

Cheryl, what a lovely post! As someone who has read Fire Eyes, I can tell you this honor is well deserved. As for the special people who have helped me along the way -- they are too numerous to list here. But first and foremost would be my husband, who has always believed in me and encouraged me. Having that kind of support from my life partner has made all the difference.

Best of luck in the competition!

Kaye Manro said...

What a wonderful post, Cheryl! And congrats on finaling. There are always so many others that help us along the way. And it is that time of year to give thanks for them.

Lindsay Townsend said...

What a super post, Cheryl! So generous. Many congratulations, too, on your Eppie final!

I agree with you - without support from some special people I could not have become a writer, either.

Thank you for sharing this.

Happy Thanks-Giving!

LK Hunsaker said...

Agreeing with those above -- wonderful post!

My biggest cheerleader is my daughter. Whenever I'm working on the second draft of a story, the draft I print, she grabs each chapter as it comes out and keeps asking for the next. She also leaves comments as to things she didn't quite get, etc. Huge help!

Also my husband who tells me to go for it and spend whatever time I can get on it now that I can. He feels it's a good exchange for all the years I followed him because of his job. ;-)

My son markets for me. I don't ask him to. He voluntarily does.

There are many others. I'm very thankful to all of them. Writing is not actually a solitary process once you start publishing. ;-)

Cheryl said...

Helen,

Thanks so much! That's a wonderful compliment, and I appreciate it. You are very very lucky to have the support of your husband. That's very rare, too! In my classes, I've known many many people who had writing talent that gave up due to lack of family support and also their writing causing a "rift" between them and their spouse. I'm glad to know that your husband is so supportive. Thanks for reading and commenting!
Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Hi Kaye,

THANK YOU, KAYE! It's a huge honor.

YES. Sometimes we forget that we didn't get here all by ourselves, and even if it was that fourth grade teacher that encouraged you to write all those years ago, we need to remember to be thankful that that was "the beginning" of our writing careers. Admittedly, I do get busy sometimes and don't take the time I should to remember that I didn't travel down this road alone.

Thanks for commenting!
Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Hi Lindsay,

Thanks so much for the congrats. I'm glad you liked the post, too--I am guilty so often of not taking time to remember HOW I got here, and finalling in the EPIC Competition really made me stop and think. I believe everyone can relate, and think of at least ONE person in their lives who gave them encouragement or help when they most needed it to continue toward becoming a writer.

Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Hi Loraine,

Bless your soul for taking time out of your busy schedule to reply to my post here! With your new release coming out today (?) I think -- I don't know how you have time to read and respond. I fell off the face of the earth for the last two weeks trying to get things ready for my releases next week of Time Plains Drifter and A Night For Miracles. Thank you for taking time to answer. I'm so glad your family supports you so much, Loraine. That is soooo important. My daughter, too, is my biggest cheerleader. She always "tells it like it is" and is very honest (AND tactful!)LOL about my books. It's wonderful when we have the support of those we love as well as friends and mentors we have known through the years.

Cheryl

Savanna Kougar said...

Cheryl, congratulations on being a finalist.
Your right, it takes all those who love and care about us as we journey toward becoming published and once we are, I think, it becomes even more important.
Actually, I had a fabulous creative writing professor at college. He loved my writing. And he loved the way I read my writing in class. However, he also crushed me, saying he didn't think I would ever be published because my writing was too old-fashioned, not modern or the journalistic style of writing. Nope, can't do that one. So, I'm grateful trends have changed enough for my books to be published and enjoyed.

Cheryl said...

Savanna,

Thanks for the kind words. I appreciate it. I'm thrilled to be a finalist. It's amazing how surprised we can be at our own successes--another blog topic, for sure. I'm sorry you had that professor, because that "crushing" can sometimes take the life and will out of someone who has the undeveloped talent and desire (as we can all relate to, being college students and having had at least one such professor along the way.) They don't realize what a word can do to someone--whether it be a word of encouragement or a word of DIScouragement. I try to remember that saying: "To the world you may be just one person, but to one person, you may be the world." We don't know what effect we have on others with the smallest things sometimes. Glad you persevered and kept on going despite that professor's words!
Cheryl

Francesca Prescott said...

Cheryl,what a great post! You made me stop and think of the people I have to thank for giving me the confidence to write. My husband has always encouraged me to keep going in the face of adversity, and always manages to somehow say the right thing.

My mother is always very encouraging and helpful, too. She reads more than anyone I know, and offers wonderful editorial advice. And while I was writing my first book, I had a little clan of girlfriends to whom I'd fire off my chapters day after day, and the fact that they always wanted to know what happened next was fantastic.

But there's another person who probably gave me the biggest confidence boost of all, yet I've never met her, nor do I remember her name. You see, years ago, when I first started writing "seriously", I had a few articles published in a local magazine, and somebody enjoyed my stories so much they sent me a lovely letter, and a voucher for a pedicure. But back then, my children were quite small, so I never got around to using it. That's when I thought I might be able to take my writing to the next level. So thank you, lovely pedicure lady! I wish I could let you know about my book!

Again, congratulations on being a finalist, Cheryl, and thank you for a wonderful post.

Cheryl said...

Hi Francesca!

Thanks for the congratulations, I'm glad you liked the post. It's wonderful that you have so many people who support you, including your husband and your mom. I wish so much my mom and dad were here to celebrate with me and see that their encouragement throughout my lifetime FINALLY paid off. And how wonderful that you had such a great group of friends who were waiting for each chapter. That makes me smile! What a neat story about the pedicure lady! How thoughtful of her to send you that voucher. The world is full of wonderful people. Francesca, have you thought of doing a blog post about that pedicure lady? She might still be following your books and she might read it. Wouldn't that me neat if she did?

Thanks for commenting!
Cheryl

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Hey Cheryl, you know what I think? LIFE is a team experience! I'm chuffed to bits for your success, and what's more, I'm not in the least bit surprised about it either! Good luck for the finals! :)

Jane x

Cheryl said...

Hi Jane,

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I appreciate that!!!

I think you are right, Jane, about life being a team experience. Too bad we don't realize that when we are younger, isn't it? LOL

Thank you so much for your kind words, and thanks for commenting!
Cheryl

Keena Kincaid said...

Congratulations on your final! It's a great story. And your post brought tears to my eyes. As you said, there are so many people who help us along the way--too many to ever count--and I believe that sometimes we get our best help from people we never meet, i.e. she smiled at someone, who suddenly felt better and held the door for someone else who turned out to be the editor who bought your book. I think of it as the chaos theory gone good.

Linda Banche said...

Well, congratulations, Cheryl. I don't know if anyone has really encouraged me. For most of my life, I've kept my mouth shut, because if I said I wanted to do anything, somebody knocked me down. I think I'm a case of going ahead and doing it anyway.

Cheryl said...

Hi Keena,

I AGREE WHOLEHEARTEDLY. I think of that C&W song of a few years back, think it was Joe Nichols, about the rich woman who had a flat tire, and a mechanic stops on his way home from work, and changes it for her; she tries to pay him, but he says no, he doesn't want it, just pass it on. So she goes to a little diner down the road and the waitress who serves her is about 8 months pregnant, but still smiling and kind to her, and so when she leaves she leaves like $50 or $100 for the tip. When the waitress gets home, she tells her husband, everything will be okay--they'd both been so worried about money with the baby on the way, and of course, her husband is the mechanic who stopped to help the lady.

Another prime example of getting help from people we don't know is the fact that we never know WHO is buying our books and what good things they are saying to others about them.

Thanks for the support and congratulations, and I'm so glad so many have related to this post. It really is "from my heart to yours."

Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Hi Linda,

I think the experience of telling someone what you want, and then having them pull the rug out from under you is something we can all relate to, Linda. I know I sure can! I've had those people in my life, just like the ones that helped me along. Oddly enough, my parents were the kind of people who would say, "You can do anything you set your mind to." But, by their actions and attitudes they let me know they wanted me to pursue a conventional career--not WRITING. Until they day they died, almost, they seemed to almost feel like writing was a "hobby" but not something one would do for a LIVING. Eventually I realized that it was just the times they were brought up in, The Great Depression, here in Oklahoma, and NO ONE in their right mind would consider WRITING as a legitimate way of making a living. It still hurt, though.

I hope now that you are successful you have run into more than a few people who support you and wish the best for you. I'll be the first on that list! Congratulations to you, too!

Cheryl

Kimm said...

Thanks, Cheryl, for a lovely post. I'm sitting here looking out my window at bare, windswept trees and gusts of Yorkshire rain, smiling about all the people who have supported me in my life. Thanksgiving and Christmas are such bright spots in an otherwise dreary time of year, because of family and friends.

If you're reading these posts and not blessed with loving family, do what my neighbours do and invite people round to your house. They've got friends all over the world because of their generous spirits.

Cheryl said...

Hi Kimm,

What a wonderful idea, inviting people for the holidays! I probably would do more of that kind of thing if I wasn't married. My husband is not much of one for the holidays, and I just love them. I'm so thankful for the small blessings as well as the large ones. I'm glad you enjoyed the post--I live in Oklahoma, so it hasn't gotten too dreary here yet, but that is all about to change with this coming weekend, I think. We've been so lucky and for the most part kept our wonderful mild temperatures through most of this month.Yet one more thing to be thankful for!
Cheryl