with guest Shelley Shepard Gray.
“You know,” she said. “You’ve had such a long career. How do you keep from burning out? What keeps you wanting to write?”
Well, I’d like to tell you that I replied with something noteworthy. Something impressive. Instead, I think I’m pretty sure I mumbled a couple of sentences about enjoying the writing process.
Yeah, I don’t think she was too excited about my answer, either.
I have a good excuse, though. She caught me off guard. Until that moment I had never really thought that I had a long career. I had simply been glad that I had one.
Maybe some of y’all can relate?
The truth is that somewhere in between the deadlines and the blog tours, in between phone calls and critique meetings. Revisions and research…I’ve been a published writer for 16 years. During this time, I’ve published close to 60 books. 30 have been for Avon Inspire. 12 were for Harlequin American Romance. 8 were for Avalon Romance, 3 for Abingdon, 4 for Zondervan/Thomas Nelson. I had a couple other publishing houses mixed in there…and probably that many rejections for proposals and full manuscripts that nobody ever wanted.
That’s a lot of books.
But now, looking back, I don’t think I ever paused to think about what an achievement it’s been. Instead, I’ve only let myself think about what had to be done that week. Or, if I’m feeling really productive…that month.
I’ve spent most of my writing career living by the calendar. When I was unpublished, I was counting days that my agent and/or editor had proposals. Now I’m counting days until something is due. Or planning for the next RT or RWA or ACFW Convention. I have a feeling some of you are doing the same thing. By the nature of our jobs, we have to look forward. It’s virtually impossible (for me, at least) to write a book otherwise.
All this explanation isn’t to say that I’m not grateful. I am and I always have been! I love being a writer, and I think that getting paid to make stuff up in my basement is amazing. I have the best job in the world.
But somehow, in between my first sale to yesterday’s question…a career happened that I wasn’t truly aware of.
There’s a song called Don’t Blink by country artist Kenny Chesney. In it, he sings about life passing by in an instant. I think my twenty-year-old self would have doubted that things ever happen that fast. But now that I’m almost fifty, I must admit Kenny knows what he’s talking about. Life does happen, and sometimes it does feel like it goes by in the blink of an eye.
Now, almost twenty-four hours later, I finally have an answer to that gal’s question.
How do I keep doing what I do?
I just do. Because to stop writing would be harder than meeting my next deadline. Because to not have something to look forward to would just about kill me. And because I love what I do.
Wherever you are in your career, I hope you take a moment to flip that calendar back a page or two. Pause to think about where you’ve been. Even if it wasn’t all hearts and flowers, it was worthwhile because it’s going to get you where you need to go.
And that, of course, is forward.
helley Shepard Gray writes Amish romances for Harper Collins inspirational line, Avon Inspire and historical romances as Shelley Gray for Zondervan. Her novels have been Holt Medallion winners and Inspirational Readers Choice and Carol finalists. Shelley’s novels have appeared on both the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.
To date, Shelley’s novels have been highlighted in the Philadelphia Enquirer, Washington Post, Time Magazine, and USA Today. She has also been interviewed on NPR as well as numerous regional radio stations.
Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor’s degree in English literature and elementary education and later obtained her master’s degree in educational administration. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two young adults, and is an active member of her church. Shelley is active on Facebook and Twitter. She also has a website, www.shelleyshepardgray.com.
Shelley's latest release is a an RT Book Reviews 4 1/2 Star TOP PICK! A Christmas Bride in Pinecraft released yesterday and Seekerville has tucked away print copy for one blog visitor who comments today!
When Beverly Overholt’s beloved Orange Blossom Inn is broken into, she’s shaken to her core. After all, the inn has been her whole life since her fiancé left her for her best friend. In the face of repairing what’s been lost, Beverly calls Eric Wagler, the inn’s handsome owner. To her surprise, he promises to be on the next flight out to Sarasota. Beverly’s been closed off to love for years, but with Eric, she can’t help seeing a glimmer of hope—even if they’re from different worlds.
From the moment Eric met Beverly, he’s tried to fight his attraction to her. Though now Mennonite, Beverly was raised Amish, but Eric grew up in Philadelphia and got into his fair share of trouble as a young man. Though he’s worked to overcome his earlier mistakes, with Beverly’s security scare, Eric’s sure she’s not going to want anything more to do with him. And considering how he might just want a future with her…that’s a tough pill to swallow.
But as Beverly and Eric put the inn back together, prepare for Christmas, and even witness a new love blossoming for another couple, the trust…and love…between them grows. Will Christmas bring a second chance at love for Beverly? And if it does, will she be brave enough to take it?
Additionally, because it's the middle of our birthday celebration, we've got an Amazon gift card to share as well. All winners announced in the Weekend Edition.