what I’ve learned ~ 11/11/2010

November 13th marks the One Year Anniversary of LaPalm Books! Okay, I didn’t “officially” establish it until sometime in February of this year (can’t remember exact date), but it was out there-lurking in the shadows-on the day when I started writing in earnest.

I fondly remember penning “paragraph” stories on scratch paper in the farmhouse of my youth. And I remember a diary-pale pink with a tiny brass lock and key that didn’t latch-cloth covered journals, and more as modes of expressing adolescent angst and accomplishments. Of course, I had to write…and write…and write while pursuing my degree in English Literature. And while it was an irreplaceable learning experience in finding my voice and manipulating the language (of which I LOVE the most), it was usually forced, on a deadline, and too restricted for my tastes. Which is why, after innumerable 20+ page research papers on 18th and 19th century works, short stories critiqued by fellow students, and poetry on topics not of my choosing, I found my desire to put pen to paper had all but disappeared. I didn’t even want to write a letter! As many of us do after graduation, I’d determined writing to be something which had to be done to earn my degree and thus crossed off the proverbial to do list as something I would never have to do again.

And yet…it kept coming back to me. Here and there I’d notice my urge to journal again as a method of releasing everything in my heart and mind. Then, the people would come to me. As snippets, they’d appear with no real story or life, and I would feel compelled to fashion one and find out what became of them. But I really would only get so far; notes and paragraphs of ideas would appear and then…nothing. It was far easier for me to journal and write poetry for substantial fiction just didn’t materialize in my head.

So it came to be that on one frustrating summer day in 2006, I wrote the initial first half of chapter one for Still Life. Julia was there…and Blake and Ryan and Mia. Gabriel wasn’t. However, I stored those pages away (and for those who know me as an anti-clutter freak, this is quite an important factoid), and I forgot about them until last November. Cleaning out files and feeling down and subsequently inspired by something I won’t go into here, I clutched those pages in my shaking hand and realized with excitement (and fear) parts of what was going to happen next. And on November 13th, I began to write…and write…and write fiction. I was unable to stop. The story, and the need to tell it, occupied every waking moment and even my semi-conscious ones. I couldn’t ignore it even if I wanted.

I had no idea what I was doing (or attempting to do). There was no defined goal, no thought of self-publishing, nor did I plan to share it with others. I just wrote…and loved it…and knew I needed to do it again. Which of course has brought me to this point today: with 2 books in print/eBook/Kindle formats, a website, and a third book planned for 2011. As with most self-employed persons, my pseudo-attempt at making a living from this is fledgling. There is no profit at this stage of the game, only investment. Every day requires effort on my part to either create new work or market old work. It is work.

But within the drudgery, there are lessons. I am continually amazed at what I learn about myself and the process of publishing. And while I won’t go into gruesome details of the latter, I’ll readily confide some things writing has taught me about Me.

I’ve learned…
…I can take chances at any stage in my life because even if I fail I will have succeeded in being true to who I am and what I want.
…I can bare my soul to the world without fear because hiding it serves no purpose other than to deny who I am and who I wish to be.
…I can survive rejection-even from those I thought would support me-because I am stronger than the opinions of others, and it doesn’t mean they reject Me.
…Living my life on my terms is the truest measure of my worth.
…I still have a lot to learn and must embrace every lesson-good or bad-that comes my way!

With humble and eternal gratitude, I celebrate One Year-with its few highs and many lows-and wait with great anticipation for what the next one holds…

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