On Wednesday I attended a book fair at our local community college to represent and sell my books.
I have to tell you that as a writer, these experiences are the worst and the best. The worst being the preparation (packing, finding everything, schlepping it all over there) and then sitting there hoping people will stop at my table. Many people hurry by, averting their eyes, or smiling apologetically, making me feel like a sleezy salesman pushing overpriced, cheap products.
I feel awkward, uncomfortable, ridiculous, and I pretty much always tell myself I’m never doing this again. The handful of sales I’ll make are never worth the time and torture. And really, why do I have to do it? Will it make any difference in the big scheme of things? Will it make or break my ‘success’ as a writer? Probably definitely not.
But then there are moments that remind me of the best part of writing. A little girl, probably 10 or 11, appeared in front of my table with twinkly eyes and a shy smile. “I found you!” she said.
Are you wasting all your time with all these words? #areyoustillwriting #amwriting #writerswrite
I have gotten out of the habit of writing.
And serious writing depends on just that—habit. Not waiting for inspiration or time or a good night’s sleep or a better outline or the dog to shut up or until you take some class/webinar/retreat.
Writing requires that you sit down and do it. No matter what. As often as possible, every day if you can. You start where you are and spill your jumbled thoughts, wandering storylines, and vast emotions on the page. Your fingers tap along as your heart and mind try to make sense of it. (or maybe that’s just how it works for me.)
If you keep going, pressing past the doubt and frustration and discouragement and that little nagging bird fluttering all around you chirping that you’re wasting so much time, if you wave her away and type on, I promise something will come of it.
All I can say is that ever since visiting the Shenandoah Valley fifteen years ago to run a trail race, it’s had a hold of me. I came home from that first trip having run the mountains, discovered wineries, stomped divets at a polo game, meandered through tiny downtowns, and soaked up the quiet and peace, I told Nick, “You have to come to Virginia with me.”
Thanks to the pandemic, though, it feels like any other day. There is no launch party, no celebratory signing, no champagne with friends even.
I’m planning a Facebook LIVE at lunchtime on my writer page, but I’m certain it will feel as lonely as every other LIVE I’ve done—talking into the abyss and wondering when I finish if I’ve connected with anyone.
Releasing a second book during this ‘unprecedented time’ feels like the final nail in the coffin of my dream to ever make-it-as-an-author. I had such high hopes for this year. I thought it was the year that I would ‘arrive.’ The less-than of every moment leading up to this book feels unfair and personal, as if God doesn’t think I can take a hint.
These are the thoughts spinning through my selfish mind. But then my heart says, “Get over yourself; this isn’t about you. It never was.”
On the mind vs heart equation, I usually operate at about a 40-60 ratio, but I think I’ve finally realized that if I want to be happy—really happy—in my life, I need to get to a 20-80 or even a 10-90 on the mind v heart battle.
So, shoving aside all the business and planning and success factors of my writing career, I’m overjoyed that Blind Turn is out in the world. It’s a book I have poured so much into and a book that has saved me again and again. Not only did it land me both of my agents, it has pulled me back into the fight again and again when I’ve all but given up and gone to work at Walmart.
Blind Turn is a story that sums up my own philosophies about life—everyone deserves a second chance and no one is irredeemable; we need to be present in all the moments of our life and conscious of the fact that any single moment can change everything; and more than anything, real love requires forgiveness on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis.
Those might be the three tenets of my life. And there they are in this story. I never set out to write a story about any of those things, though. I simply dreamed up a few characters, tossed them into a situation that scared the heck out of me, and wrote through what happened.
And as I wrote, my heart spoke its truth, sometimes surprising me on the page.
Blind Turn isn’t a classic or a parable or even literary fiction. It likely won’t find its way onto a bestseller list since it is coming out with an independent press few people have likely heard of, but it’s finally real. It’s loose in the world, my heart’s message to the masses.
Incredible thanks to the people who have always believed in this book, and in doing so believed in my heart, and in my mind’s ability to tell a story worth reading.
Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.
Blind Turn is a mother-daughter story of forgiveness in the aftermath of a fatal texting and driving accident. Learn more about it and read a few early reviews here.
If you’re curious about what else I’m up to, check out my website, CaraWrites.com.
If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.
My book, 100 Dogs & Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues was released this past July 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.
Finding the time to write isn’t always as hard as finding the focus to write.
My house is full of distractions—animals, chores, deliveries, laundry, phone calls, the list goes on and on especially since this has become as much our bunker as our home.
And then there’s the other inhabitants who are currently working from here instead of where they have always worked for most of my writing career. I am never alone at my house. And even if these people are on a different floor, doing their own thing, not paying a lick of attention to me, their presence stifles my writing.