This past May, I turned to my husband as he drove our family to Costco and said, very matter-of-factly, “I’m going to write a book.” He nodded and replied, “Sounds good. Should we get cheese?”
My husband’s response was appropriate, given my history. You see, the dreamer in me thinks up new businesses to start every month. I’ve held job titles ranging from “high school Spanish teacher,” and “Realtor,” to “Interior Designer,” and “Calligrapher.” I’ve blogged, owned an Etsy shop, and written for a bridal magazine. I enjoyed every job, though some more than others. Still, I knew…I hadn’t found “the one.”
Sure, I sometimes declared, “One day, I’m going to write a book!” But who hasn’t said that? Reading was always a favorite pastime, but after having kids, books became reserved for vacations. When I was pregnant with my third baby, I didn’t sleep well and read to combat the insomnia. Then my husband bought me a Kindle.
I read voraciously, typically three to four novels per week. Especially appealing were inspirational romance, historical romance, and women’s fiction with a heavy dose of romance. The more I read, the more I discerned what I enjoyed in a novel. I found myself often thinking “I wish there was a book like this…” and would imagine a story. I’d pick up a new book, hoping it would match what was in my head, but couldn’t find it anywhere. That was my first clue, though I didn’t know it at the time.
It wasn’t long before I had a unique cast of characters living in my head. I knew what they looked like, what their quirks were, even the sounds of their voices. I had detailed scenes, and dialogue for days. The voices were getting louder and were demanding something…but what? Clue number two, but still, I was clueless.
It was like a bolt of lightning hit me that day in the car with my husband. My “Aha!” moment, to quote Oprah. After we came home and unloaded the groceries, I sat down at my desk and started typing. I worked right through dinner while my family feasted on rotisserie chicken and continued writing late into the night. The next morning, I woke up before dawn and began again. Every spare minute I had, I wrote. It felt SO GOOD to get the story down on paper.
A few days later, after I had written a particularly moving scene, I stared at my laptop and whispered, “I’m a writer.” I looked around the room to see if anyone had heard me. Could it be true? If it was, then what was my next step? I prayed, asking God for direction. The next day I stumbled upon Seekerville and met some amazing women who mentored and guided me.
By Labor Day, I had finished my first novel, Grasping Hope, coming in around 60,000 words. I entered a few contests, became a finalist in two of them, and as of today, won first place in one.
People hear you’re a writer and the first thing they ask is “Ooooh, where can I buy your book?” Funny you should ask, I’m working on that.
There is just so much to say on this topic but my advice can be summed up in five words: Write, Read, Educate, Engage, Pray. W.R.E.E.P. You WREEP what you sow. These aren’t listed in any particular order of importance, though I found that extensive reading and prayer were the catalysts for my writing to flourish.
*Write. In order to be a writer, you must write. Your writing time is sacred. Set a goal for a number of words to write per day and stick to it at least five, if not six days a week. Get a room with a door. Close the door. Write. Repeat.
*Read. Just as I wouldn’t trust a chef who didn’t enjoy food, I’m wary of a writer who never reads. Read all kinds of books, especially in your genre. We typically write what we love to read so what’s on your bookshelf?
*Educate yourself. Study books on the writing craft, analyze best-selling and award-winning books, read blogs, enter contests for feedback, study the publishing market. There’s so much to learn and always room to improve.
*Engage. No one is an island. Connect with writers, authors, bloggers, editors, and agents. Leave a comment. Say “Hi.” Introduce yourself. It’s never been easier. Social media may have its downside, but it’s an incredible resource for putting your name out there and seeking advice. You also need to start building your audience, even if you’re not yet published. Put up a website, pick one or two social media outlets that you enjoy and use them.
*Pray. I no longer say “God, how am I going to do this?” Now, I tell him “I can’t wait to see how you’re going to do this!” Seek his guidance and praise him with a humble and grateful heart.
I don’t know what I’m doing half the time. But, I decided, I don’t need to. Who knows what they’re doing when they’re starting something brand new? We all learn as we go. We stumble, fall, get back up and try again.
There is much I need to learn but this I know: I am a writer. There’s a fire burning in my belly and at the risk of sounding cliché, I feel like a butterfly popped out of her cocoon. It’s humbling and exciting to be doing what I know I was born to do. I’m pounding the pavement toward publication and with determination and God’s grace, I’ll get there.
I’d LOVE to know, what was your “aha” moment, when you knew you were a writer?
Josee Telfer is an award-winning, contemporary romance author. Those words still feel surreal to her but she loves them! She hails from Québec, Canada and immigrated to the United States where she grew up in southern Connecticut. Today, Josee makes her home in Vermont with her husband and their three children. She spends her time at hockey rinks cheering on her boys, feeding her teenager and playing Barbies with her daughter. Admittedly, she doesn’t know much except this: God is good. All the time. You can find her at her website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Josee has a very special giveaway! Two winners will get their choice of either Proverbs 31 or "The Lords Prayer," done in pointed pen calligraphy. Printed on thick cardstock and ready for framing. Leave a comment to get entered in this giveaway. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.