Friday, April 13, 2007

Even the Published Have to Hang in There

I freely admit that, as an unpublished writer, I struggle with envy of the published. Sometimes I hear them talking about their contracts and their forthcoming books, and it all just sounds so easy--for them, anyway.

Take Anita Higman and Janice Thompson. They have a new book called Larkspur Dreams coming out for Heartsong. When I started talking to Anita about featuring them here, I thought--how will they fit in? They're successful, multi-published writers. What do they know about persevering?

Anita (pictured at left) quickly set me straight. "I’ve been writing for twenty-two years. It’s been a long journey, a hard journey at times, but I’m glad I didn’t get off the train."

Janice's story frankly humbled me.

"This past year I went through a crash course in 'writing through the pain.' In September, just one week before my father passed away from bone marrow cancer, I had a book due. I literally wrote the book in the ICU waiting room of a local cancer hospital.

"Six weeks after his death, my daughter (33 weeks pregnant) developed toxemia and had to be hospitalized. The baby was delivered six weeks early, weighing only 4 pounds, 8 ounces. Ironically, I had another book due that same week. Much of it was written at the hospital, in various waiting rooms (and/or the cafeteria).

"Finally, less than a month ago, my daughter was scheduled to be married on a Friday. Three days prior to that (Tuesday) my sister passed away unexpectedly. She was only 45 years old. In one week, I had to coordinate a wedding and a funeral. And (you guessed it), on the day after her death, I had yet another book due. I got it turned in on time (miraculously). I literally spent all day at the funeral home, making arrangements, spent the evening with grieving family, then came home and (in the middle of the night) wrote those last two chapters.

"It IS possible to write through the pain. I know that now. And I also know that God will give you the strength to get the work done, even when it seems impossible. He is a God of impossibilities. I will also add that I found the books/writing to be a real 'gift' during this tough season of my life. They took my eyes off of the problems."

In spite of their difficulties, Janice and Anita have written a novel together that promises to be great fun. According to Janice, Larkspur Dreams illustrates their idea that "opposites not only attract; God often uses our 'polar opposite' to complete/fulfill us." Anita adds, "Lark and Everett are total opposites. Lark is a sanguine and a free-spirit who loves people and loves being alive. Everett is a cautious guy who enjoys numbers more than people. I love throwing characters together who’ll stir up trouble just by being in the same room."

So what advice do they have for aspiring writers--or those of us finding it difficult to hang onto our dream?

According to Anita, "If you feel called to write, don’t let people discourage you. I’m sure they don’t realize the impact of their words, but negative remarks can undermine our courage and joy. Comments similar to: 'Maybe you weren’t really meant to be published.' Or, 'Are you making any money at this yet?' Perhaps you’ve heard, 'Why can’t you write like my favorite author?' Honestly, I could go on and on here. Writing is a great and honorable profession—one that can challenge, inspire, and change people’s lives. If you love words and love arranging them into stories, then don’t let the battering influence of dispiriting comments shatter your dream. Keep pressing on!"

Janice tells young writers, "Learn the craft, but don’t necessarily write what the publishers/agents/houses tell you to write. Trends change. Stick with the stories God places on your heart and if He intends them to be published, He will find the right publishing house in the right time."