The Secret Lives of Writers

“If a story is in you it has to come out.” William Faulkner

I’ve heard many times that we all have a story inside us. I’m sure you have, too. When my very first short story was published, and it came up in a conversation with  a friend months later,  my friend said, “They say we all have a story inside us.” I guess she wasn’t very impressed or else thought it was a one time thing that would never be repeated, that it was my ONE and only story. At the time I shrugged the whole “ I’ve been published” thing off, made out that it was no big deal. But guess what? It was a big deal to me.  Although I was secretly pleased with myself, I was certain no one else gave a flying fig. My friend’s reaction was proof of that. The whole truth was I felt very self-conscious about the fact that I was writing.

Yes, I was a closet writer for many years. I’m sure some of you are as well. I remember those days when I could not speak about writing to anyone without feeling a bit strange. Today, I know that strange feeling was caused by not truly believing I was a writer. I thought I was following a dream that would never become reality because truly great things would probably never happen to me. I was just too ordinary. I remember feeling as though I was keeping some well-guarded secret from the rest of the world, protecting my privacy, holding fast to who I was because no one would even care or understand my need to write.

But the secret finally came out as most secrets do, especially those secrets that niggle away at you, never letting you quite forget that you’re a keeper of a secret that will eventually become known.

I often wonder what my life would look like today if I had not let that first story out as Faulkner says. Would I have found some other outlet for my creativity? Or would I have become a cranky middle-aged woman who despises her life and everyone in it?

I believe that we all are here to bring new creations into the world. We shouldn’t think that our contributions are any less important than someone else’s. We will not all paint a Mona Lisa, or invent a telephone, computer or write a Harry Potter series.

Surprise! I’m not J.K. Rowling. I’m Laura Best. I can only create what is inside me to create. I can only use the talents and skills that have been given me. I can only write the words are in me to write, express myself in a way that only I can. Bitter, Sweet will never sell a million copies (nor, I’m sure, will any of my future books and that’s okay) but that won’t stop me from letting my stories out into the world. Because the secret’s out, and now that it’s out I don’t care who knows.

If we create for creativity’s sake then what is there for us to lose, what is there for us to keep secret?

Move Over J.K. Rowling Cause Here I come!!

Okay, so the title is a supposed to be a joke. But hey, it never hurts to dream big. Right?

Seriously, though we all know about the success of the Harry Potter books. I loved reading the story behind the success, how a modest 1000 copies were printed of the first book because the publisher wasn’t sure it would sell. I mean they were taking a chance on a first time author. Right?

Reading about the success of others can either inspire us or depress us.
I prefer to let it inspire me. The truth is most of us won’t write a novel that will meet or surpass the phenomenal success of the Harry Potter series. But so what!

Shari Green recently blogged about redefining success in our lives (you can read Shari’s post here.) I liked it when Shari asked the question: Might you benefit from redefining what constitutes success as a writer for you?

Before and after my first novel came out many of my friends made the suggestion that wouldn’t it be wonderful if it became the next Harry Potter. Well yah, and while I’m all for dreaming big and being open to endless possibilities, at some point we have to look at life realistically.

But does that mean our success must pale along those best selling authors like Rowling, King, Atwood, etc? Do we all have to have sales that go through the roof in order for that sweet taste of success to be ours? I don’t think so.

Completing a novel is a huge big deal. Having one published is an even bigger deal.

Many people will talk about writing a book, but many will discover along the way that they don’t have what it takes to sit and write every day until they come to ….THE END. Having the desire to do something will not bring our dreams to fruition if we are not ready or able to do the work involved in order to have that dream realized.

Shortly after my novel came out, my family had a get-together at my mother’s house and surprised me with a plaque. Congratulations on the success of your first novel, Bitter, Sweet, it reads. For a split second I thought, success? My book’s been out less than a month. How can they use the word success?

Months later, I now look at this from a totally different perspective. Of course my book is a success, I wrote it, it’s been published, people have read it. I’m not going to turn around now and attach stipulations to this. There are many degrees of success in this world. Why do we think we have to go for something that is SO off scale, so out of balance, something that only a very few will ever experience, before we are satisfied? For a toddler, success is that very first step, not the millions of steps that come after. I’m not sure what will come after Bitter, Sweet. I have no crystal ball. All I have is the knowledge that regardless of what the future holds my book is already a success.

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  • Publication date April 30, 2020. Available for pre-order NOW.

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