So You Think YOU’RE Special?

[This week’s blog post, take two.]

My original post I spent the past forty minutes writing laid out all the ways the publishing world is lined up against me.

But then I simply got tired of my own drivel.

Enough whining, I told myself.

I knew the odds were steeply against me before I signed Blind Turn with an independent press.

I did it anyway, so I don’t get to whine now about the unfairness of the publication world and how the big five (soon to be four when Penguin-Random House officially buys Simon & Schuster) publication houses dictate what everyone buys and reads.

Why would it be any different for me?

All of us want to believe we are special. I told my kids they were special every night as I sat on the edge of their beds to read a story and say a word of thanks for their day, their blessings, and the fact that they were so very special. But sometimes I wonder if I did them any favors by pushing that belief on them.

In too many ways we are all alike. Humans with obvious insecurities, petty issues, selfish tendencies, and lazy natures that lean in the direction of apathy.

Thankfully, though, in plenty of ways, we aren’t like each other. We are unique snowflakes or thumbprints or pasta sauces or irises.

And I do believe my kids are special.

Just like I believe that YOU are special.

(Yes, I’m channeling Mr. Rogers here, but I think he was on to something.)

If you didn’t believe you were special, why would you even get out of bed? Why would you try anything new? Why would you share your opinion? Why would you help another person?

You certainly couldn’t write a book if you didn’t believe you were special. You have to believe you have something unique to say, something other people would want to read, even pay to read.

It’s a monstrous leap of faith in yourself to put words to a page and send that page out into the world.

It’s a gamble, too. It might fall on critical or cruel ears, or much worse, deaf ears.

It might make people angry or it might cause them to laugh or scoff at you.

But….it might make them think. It might make them wonder. It might make them examine the folds of their own heart.

It might make them feel.

And feeling is the most important part of living. Feeling nothing is one definition for depression; it is also the definition of death.

So, discouraged as I am, today I shoved all of that aside, sweeping my arm across the desk of my heart, shoving all the jealousy and frustration and exhaustion to the floor. I cleared a space to write something new.

I’m carefully examining that heart now with fresh eyes, looking for what is unique, even special. Choosing the pieces I will hold up to the light and then transcribe onto the page in a story that I hope will reach someone, somewhere.

And make them feel something.

What’s tumbling around in your own heart? Maybe it’s time you put it on the page and shared it with the world.

Because you ARE special.

We all are.

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.



My latests novel, Blind Turn is a mother-daughter story of forgiveness in the aftermath of a fatal texting and driving accident. Learn more about it and find out how to get your copy here.

If you’re curious about what else I’m up to, check out my website,

If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.

And If you’re a dog lover, check out my other blog, Another Good Dog. And if you want to know what is really happening in the animal shelters in this country, visit, Who Will Let the Dogs Out.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram, and I’m thrilled to get email from readers (and writers), you can reach me at

My book, 100 Dogs & Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues was released July 2020 from Pegasus books and is available anywhere books are sold, but if you’d like some help finding it (or want to read some lovely reviews), click here.

Author: Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and dog rescuer. I live in the darling town of Woodstock, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley with my husband and three rescue dogs (who rescue me on a daily basis). Find more information about my books, my dogs, and all my writing adventures at

One thought on “So You Think YOU’RE Special?”

  1. My stepson (who’s about your age) had to come to grips with the “special” thing. He had a major epiphany one day walking around a lake in San Diego, looking at the people who were there. He thought, “I’m just like them. There’s nothing special about me.” Strictly speaking, that’s not true, but what he saw was true. His realization relieved him of the pressure of “special”ness.

    I don’t think I write because I’m “special.” In a way, that implies a kind of eliteness that I’m uncomfortable with. My neighbor, Elizabeth, can knit socks and I think THAT is special. Her husband can build (from the ground up) a new floor for his 1957 T-Bird. To me, that’s special. But our culture has indoctrinated us to think artists and writers are “special.” It’s a huge burden because along with that come both positive and negative expectations. Writer are alcoholics and artists are suicidal. In the best of that “specialness” is that “they aren’t like us normal people.” Before Christmas I took over a couple packets of Christmas cards that she was going to give her daughters for Christmas. She wanted to pay me. I didn’t want her to because she’d just GIVEN me a pair of wool socks she’d knitted. She said, “But this is your art!” like it mattered.

    I just said, “Yeah, but THIS is your art.” ”

    Oh, it’s just socks.”

    I said, “But they are USEFUL.” I really see it that way, and they are also beautiful.

    I honor most all those painters through the ages who painted for a living. Millions of good artists on whose shoulders the few we know stand. Without them, there’d be no Leonardo or Michelangelo.

    I think the most satisfying way to write is to write as well as we can, publish as we can (if we want) and let go. Publishing companies have their own agendas and when I understood that completely I was OK with publishing my books myself. I discovered that putting a book together was fun.

    Your book is good. I enjoyed it and I’m not your target audience, but as I read I could see why it wasn’t picked up by a major publisher. The focus of your book, the actual important plot, is oblique and subtle. I don’t think every reader will even find it.

    It’s almost for the same reason my historical novels aren’t picked up by major publishers. I didn’t understand THAT until I went to a writers conference and sat at a big table to sign my books for people (ha ha). The guy sitting next to me — a fascinating guy who’d been in the CIA — had a lot of disdain for historical fiction, but he picked up one of my books and thumbed through it. He said, “it’s not a bodice ripper. It’s a serious story.” I said, “Yeah. What’a bodice ripper?” “Oh, most of the historical fiction published now days has that quality. It’s what people want.”

    As the evening wore on and people began appearing in costume (it was the costume banquet that night) I saw that MOST women were in period costume that involved wearing the corset OUTSIDE their bodice. I’m a visual person and the image of all these (seriously overweight, in some cases) women wandering around in corsets and the guy’s remark really brought it home to me. No, A novel in which a young man joins a crusade in order to save his soul from the devil who has grasped it (he had major depression) is NOT going to make it in a. market of bodice rippers, even with one sex scene.

    I believe that when we have an important story to write, we are going to gamble on publishing. I judge books for an Indie writers contest and some of the best books I’ve ever read pass through my doorway. The BEST book I’ve read in YEARS (No Horizon So Far) was not published by a major publisher. I think, ultimately, if there’s anything about us that’s special at ALL its the love we bear our stories and the integrity with which we write them. ❤


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