Do not waste your life waiting for wings.
Trust that you can already fly.
How it all began wasn’t something I thought I’d ever talk or write about. Not because I wanted to keep it private, but because I just didn’t think my story was that interesting. And maybe it isn’t. But from the moment I have let this little secret of mine out (writing a novel, that is), I have been asked many questions by many people. How did I do it? Why did I do it? How did I come up with the ideas and the characters? And the biggest question of all, how did I finish the book? That is often the toughest part.
I write about this because so many people have asked. However, please keep in mind I am just a person who took a leap and is now waiting to see where the leaves fall.
The interest from others in my endeavour was—and still is—astounding. I never anticipated the excitement and support I would conjure up just by admitting that I had tried something as onerous as writing a book. What makes what I have done so special? There are millions of authors out there and millions of books. I am just one of many who have tried to do this.
Then I started realizing it was not what I wrote that mattered or even if my writing was any good. I know this because at the time only a handful of people had read my manuscript. The interest was merely a reflection of the inner craving that pokes at almost every one of us. A curiosity. A secret we all keep tucked away, each of us wanting to do something out of our norm. Therefore, with the news of my upcoming book, other people’s own dreams of writing started pouring out. Many of these people I know, but many are complete strangers who have contacted me, asking me for advice. Asking me for advice? You have to be kidding! I am as “green” as it gets in the world of writing. Not to mention, my book could be a complete failure.
Again, that wasn’t what really mattered to these people. It was the fact that I had tried. And not only did I try, I committed to it with my heart and soul, following through right into publishing. That’s what inspired these people—nothing more, nothing less. What I have done, and what I continue to do is scarier and riskier by the day, and by stepping far beyond my comfort zone—and I mean far—I might just be able to offer the slightest bit of help or motivation for someone interested in trying to write a book.
How did it all begin for me? Well, in honour of clichés, it all began on the chilly Sunday morning of November 15, 2009. My husband was working; I was home relaxing on the couch reading a book. Prior to this, my husband and I had been reading quite a few inspirational books about the laws of attractions, manifesting your dreams, and financial growth. To name just a few, our collection included:
• The Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
• Inspiration by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
• Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
• A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
• Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker
• Start Late, Finish Rich by David Bach
• The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
In addition to being in awe of the remarkable people mentioned above, I have also been a big fan of Oprah. In fact, it has been a long time wish of mine to do something worthy of being invited onto her show. I didn’t actually want to go on her show; I just wanted to do something worthy enough to be on it. I say this in all honesty because I have a terrible fear of public speaking and being in the spotlight, so being on TV would be like Indiana Jones falling into that pit of snakes. Nothing good would come out of it. It would be ugly for everyone. I am aware how odd this seems considering I am putting myself in the spotlight now, but I’ll explain that shift in my behaviour a little later. Right now I just want to explain how these extremely inspirational and moving public figures—role models of all things possible—changed my way of thinking, leading up to that day in November of 2009.
So there I was on that particular morning, reading The One Minute Millionaire, written by Mark Victor Hansen and Robert G. Allen. For those of you who don’t know this book, it was co-written by Mark Victor Hansen, the genius behind the Chicken Soup series, and Robert G. Allen, a best-selling author of wealth generating books. With this book, the two of them not only offer a way to gain wealth, but they also provoke the reader to explore their dreams and discover who they really are. And that was exactly what was happening. I was flipping through the pages, reading their words, all while brewing up a desire that I had been denying myself for years. The yearning to write a book.
Now why would this book inspire me? Because that is just how good it is! Not even a quarter way into the book, the authors have you question your passions, your talents, your values, and your destiny. Pretty deep for a financial book, right? Not at all. It made perfect sense. I was suddenly being as honest with myself as I had ever been. Was it good enough for me to spend my life wondering about writing a book? Absolutely not. I didn’t want to go any further in my life wondering. I wanted to give it a shot—a real shot. But what was the defining moment for me? It was on page 48 of their book. They wrote the words “Give yourself permission to dream a big dream.” That was it for me. Give myself permission . . .
By allowing myself the permission to dream, I was allowing myself to play with the notion that I—yes me—might just have what it takes to write that book I had always been wondering about. I’d like to say that I finished reading their book that day, but I did not. Rather, I struggled to keep reading for probably another ten minutes before closing the book. I say “struggled” not because the book was difficult to get through, because it wasn’t. In fact, I highly recommend everyone read it (and all the other ones I listed above) so you too might find out a little more about yourself. I struggled because I couldn’t wait to begin writing the first words of this novel I was going to try to write.
Now the big question—how? How in the world was someone like me with no real writing experience going to write a book? I was an average English student in high school. Fifteen years later, I was still not any more knowledgeable. As you read the words I write, I hope it is not that obvious!
No sooner than I had the inspiration to write, my inevitable enemy emerged—self-doubt. I sat on the couch, sweating with excitement and fear. What was I thinking? Write a book? Who was I kidding? But then I looked down at the book I was holding (The One Minute Millionaire) and on the front cover was a yellow butterfly. In my house, the butterfly is one of our spiritual symbols (you’ll soon discover the dragonfly is another of these symbols). Everything about the butterfly represents divine goodness . . . and love. It was a sign.
Suddenly, I remembered another book I had stored away. I quickly put the book down and ran for the night stand in our bedroom. Little did I know at that time, this book would be my answer to writing my first novel. The title of the book is No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High Velocity Guide to Writing A Novel In 30 Days, written by Chris Baty. My husband and I had purchased it years ago, tucked it away and forgot about it. But on this 15th day of November 2009, I was going to crack open the book and see what it had to offer. I was going to give myself the permission to dream a big dream. I knew this would mean having to believe in myself, but it was something I was willing to do. How else do dreams come true?
What happened? Well, I read the book—at least to the point where the author tells you to stop—and then called my husband to tell him I was going to try writing a novel. He was more than supportive, he was excited for me, and by the time he arrived home from work, I was well into my first of 30 days writing.
Did I finish my book in 30 days? I did. It was a rough draft at that point, but it didn’t matter. Not only had I tried, I had finished, and that alone was my own little miracle.
No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty became my writer’s handbook. I ask all of the natural born writers out there to bear with me on this please. I am a woman who knows what she is good at and what she is not good at. I am a good wife, daughter, and sister. I am a good citizen of my country. I break no rules; I break no laws. I am great with people and even better with animals. I am a good singer, in the privacy of my home, to my own ears. These are things I am confident about. But am I a confident writer? No.
Has this changed? Not really. I wish I could say that it has. Regardless, it doesn’t matter anymore because this little handbook got me to where I am now. That’s the beauty of this book—it guides you into the world of writing without all the garbage.
For good or for bad, the book emphasizes the importance for you to just start writing. Don’t worry about research and planning. Just start writing. If you aren’t sure what to write at first, write about something you know. I started by writing about a previous job I had. It automatically gave me a setting and a number of fictional characters, most importantly my main character.
That sounds all too easy, doesn’t it? Yes and no. For me, it was simply just being straight with myself, and giving it a go anyway. On that day of November 15th, I had to be honest that I had no idea what I was doing. Even worse, I had no idea what I was going to write. For some reason though, I didn’t really care. All I knew is that I had to somehow get to 1,667 words by the end of the day. That is what the 30-day challenge consists of—you have to complete 50,000 words by day 30, and pray that something worth your while comes out of it.
And silly me, I had done nothing to prepare. I had only that spark of ambition that struck me a few hours earlier. My initial goals for that day were to read a little, get a couple loads of laundry done, and clean the bathroom. Now here I was, after reading a few chapters in the above mentioned book, staring at a blank screen. I spent more time in the first half hour calculating how many words I needed to write each day to succeed than actually typing. But I knew I just had to do it. Get typing. Move forward.
Seriously though, was I insane? I had never even written six hundred words in one day, let alone over sixteen hundred. But the hunger to write remained. Okay, not to mention, I had just announced this challenge to my husband. I couldn’t let myself freak out now, I had pride to deal with.
That’s when I made a pact with myself. I decided to give myself my own personal allowances, inspired of course by the No Plot? No Problem! book. My first allowance was to keep it a secret. Most people actually register with this 30-day challenge as a national competition. I wasn’t that crazy! There was no way I was going to register. My only hope was that no one would ever have to know about this. I could do this challenge with only my husband knowing. That way if I failed miserably, it would only be my soul mate who would know. Little did he know this was a test of his unconditional love.
The second allowance was to permit myself to write—excuse the word—“crap”, as Chris Baty stresses in the book. He emphasizes that it is perfectly okay for you to write crap. In other words, keep your expectations low. Well, I knew for sure I could do that. Not only was I going to allow myself to write crap, I was going to embrace it and learn from it. This is a wonderful strategy to take the pressure off. At the end of the 30 days, I was going to succeed in something. If it meant completing a novel of crap, so be it.
My third allowance is where I may lose some of you. But I am being truthful here, and this had the most impact of all my allowances. I decided to “let go and let God”. This is something my mother taught me, and it had served me well in the past. In regards to the whole process of writing my novel, it was the greatest source of my own personal success. I am not a religious person, but I am highly spiritual. I believe in God, or whatever name you choose to call our Creator. Because of this, every night when I would sit down to write I would open myself up to divine possibility. I would light a candle, set the mood, and say a little prayer to God, asking Him to open up my imagination and use me as a vehicle (I learned this from Dr. Wayne Dyer) for this story I had set out to write. I asked Him to help me develop into a writer, and if possible, grant me the ability to write a story more like a ruby than a piece of...well, you know. In return, I promised Him I would trust the process—His process. Oh, and find an editor!
How did it all turn out? It turned out wonderfully. Every day or night that I sat down to type, I had no idea what I was going to write, yet somehow I wrote at least the 1,667 words that was required. Many days I even exceeded that number. By “letting go and letting God”, I was able to not take myself too seriously and open myself up completely to whatever came into my mind. Every night I would crawl into bed completely in awe of what I had accomplished that day. I couldn’t believe I was actually writing a novel. I kept asking myself where in the world this story was coming from, but I knew. By the end of the 30 days, I had written a total of 60,519 words. That’s 10,519 words more than I needed to achieve.
Better yet, throughout 2010 I took the manuscript and developed it into a story that upon completion contained 118,119 words. I have since cut it back to just over 94,000 words (sometimes bigger does not mean better). By trusting this process, I was able to turn a blank screen into a colourful adventure of love and courage. While much of what I wrote was inspired by my own personal experiences (not the paranormal stuff, of course), I knew the real guts of it was coming from the grace of the man upstairs. And though it has taken years for me to find the courage to publish this novel, I am once again working through my fear and moving forward.
My book is now available for sale and whatever happens from this point on, I am so proud of myself. I have come a very long way since that day in 2009, and I know who to thank for it. For this I will be forever grateful.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me and continue to support me. Your excitement and encouragement means more to me than I could ever truly express.
Image by Cameron Bruce