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I'm most recently a writer.  In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot.  As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades.  An unwilling transplant from the South,  twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US.  Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect.  When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do.  Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Goals, Plans and Flying By the Seat of My Pants

If you look up Hearts Unfold on Amazon, you'll see the publication date of January 15, 2012.   You might get the impression that was the date I launched my publishing career, that I had chosen after careful and lengthy consideration to take the self-publishing route, having exhausted all  others.  You might even assume  I had a plan involving subsequent books tied to this one, a schedule with strategically scheduled release dates, even a projected budget for advertising and promotional expenses.  Looking back from here, all those things would have made sense, if I'd had the advantage of hindsight. Fact is, I had no idea what I was doing beyond setting up an account on Amazon, preparing a manuscript, putting together a frankly awful cover and hitting "Publish." My only goal was to see "what happened" next.

Never in my wildest imaginings (and trust me, those are pretty wild at times) did I foresee all that would happen in the next two years.  I certainly never set out to write a four book series and throw in a fun little holiday spin-off. The thought of writing a book like Shannon's Daughter never crossed my mind.  I really just wanted to put something I'd written out there, where someone might see it, read it, and tell me what they thought.  And I only wanted that after my husband spent months convincing me there was nothing to lose by doing so.  Up until then, I'd been writing for me, because I'd always thought I would, and because the time had come to prove I could. Write, that is.  I'd given up the dream of being published, of having a career as a writer, before I reached thirty. At nearly sixty, I just wanted to get some of the buildup of characters and plots and images out of my head and onto paper.  For fun, not for profit, to prove something to myself, not to the world. 

Looking back, this has been a really intense roller-coaster ride, the kind I always bypass in real amusement parks.  From elation to despair, from determination to frustration, from gratitude to disillusion, over and over again.  I've sometimes felt I waited too late, that only the young and strong should wade into this fray.  There are so many elements of this business I don't understand, or even want to, frankly.  And yet, when I look back over the past two years, I take satisfaction in having hung in there.  I have no regrets and actually feel a modest sense of pride when I see "what's happened" since I hit "Publish" that first time.

I never envisioned the wonderful people I'd meet without ever leaving my desk--the readers, of course, but also other writers, friends who might never read my books but whole-heartedly support my effort nonetheless.  I never expected to earn meaningful sums of money each month, or join forces with an inspiring publisher. Even this blog is something I came to late and without expectation, and was astonished to find that people were reading it! Stepping out on faith is something I've done many times, but never with such wide-reaching results. From my quiet little corner, I've connected with a community of like-minded friends just down the road and all over the world.

So here I am, in January of 2014, gazing back over the uncharted journey so far with nothing but gratitude. Would I do it this way again?  I think so.  Going forward with little beyond anticipation and hope has always worked for me. I think I'd rather be surprised by the unexpected than disappointed when things don't go according to plan.  Would I recommend that everyone try it my way?  Oh, no!  I admire anyone who can plot their course and move forward with discipline and deliberation.  I would never advise anyone to fly by the seat of their pants as I have so many times through the years.  But I would advise them to pursue their dream, by whatever route feels right to them.  I waited a long time to go after mine, but I know now that if I had not, I would have missed out on the greatest adventure of my life so far.

Check back in another year or so.  Wonder where we'll be by then?

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