Today I will be hosting a guest post by Lorna Hollifield who is the author of Tobacco Sun which is scheduled to release on June 13th. Lorna has kindly provided me with a copy of Tobacco Sun, so watch out this space for my review. She has written a beautiful post about her journey from a closeted writer to a confident and successful one.
I used to be one…the closeted writer who admired all my best lines comfortably from my couch while curled up in my pajamas and fuzzy slippers. I’d sip whatever pretentious beverage I had in my hand that made me feel more fabulous and admire my job well-done. If I was feeling extra brave I might dare to read one line to my husband who was too smart to criticise me. After my close-quarters compliment, I’d shut my laptop and smile to myself. I’d written. I’d “worked” that day. So I thought.
But then reality set in. I was at Barnes & Noble looking at all the books, resenting the fact that one of them wasn’t mine. But then, how could it have been? What had I done to get it in there? I was being one of those people who spout off all the things they hoped to be, but never pursued it. I could never help but write…that was the easy part. That was in my bones. All writers understand that if the “literature bug” has bitten them. My manuscript was resting comfortably in the cloud, ready to rock n’ roll. What takes a minute to realise is that no one is going to “discover” you. No one is going to raid your home for your manuscripts and beg you to publish it. The time comes when desire must overpower the fear and get your butt off the sofa and into the trenches.
The trenches are scary. Beasts of enormous proportions live there with stinking fangs dripping with writer’s kryptonite….but you must go to them. The trenches sound pleasant enough from a distance…writer’s conferences, writing groups, book clubs, author events, blog postings, social media worship….all the things necessary to start building your platform. In these dark corners where the gatekeepers of your dream live is where you’ll find your first brushes with criticism, cynicism, and rejection. You will fight 200 other versions of yourself in pitch sessions, meet wolves in sheep’s clothing, and be told no for reasons that will never make sense. You will have flat out rejections, and painful almosts. You will probably cry in secret, and take out physical anger on your keyboard. You will likely live in that ditch where the most joy you’ll have will come from getting another follower on your blog for years. It’s part of the hustle…but there is a sweet light at the end of that long tunnel.
I entered the trenches at about 20 years old when I adorably snail-mailed 20 query letters that promptly returned as form letters telling me “no way in hell”. I got my book deal at 30. I have vague memories of how hard it was, and I certainly wouldn’t want to go back…but what radiates in my soul was the second I received the email that said “we want you.” It’s all that matters. Mothers often talk about immediately forgetting the pain of childbirth once they hear the infant cry. While the doctor stitches them up, they’re just holding the embodiment of love in their suddenly renewed arms. That is the feeling of finally climbing out of the trench to see the battle is won.
We’re often told we can be anything we want to be, but it isn’t true. We can be anything we work to be. So my advice as a soldier who’s served on the front lines (and still is at times), is this: go now. Do not wait. The fear won’t step out of your way. You simply have to walk through it; do what you need to do anyway. I promise it never hurts as much as you think, because once you’re at war you will hunger to win. The fight will become natural, and the grit will make you strong. Stop procrastinating. Start that blog…make a writer’s fan page for yourself…go meet those agents at conferences…share your work at critique groups (but filter what they say).
The draft doesn’t exist. Go sign up with your words, mightier than the sword, firmly in your hand. The faster you enter the trench, the faster you climb out….and I am telling you, that day will be worth every proud scar you’ll collect on the way. If you feel it in your bones that you’re meant to be the literature, do it right now. That’s the magic answer. Do it now.
Thanks Lorna for these wonderful words. It has definitely inspired me to take a few risks and I hope it will inspire my readers too! Do checkout the below link to get to know more about Lorna : https://lornahollifield.com/