Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sandra Robbins~It’s Never Too Late

About a year ago, a friend of mine posted the following quote on her blog:

It's never too late - in fiction or in life - to revise.

~Nancy Thayer.
That statement has been in my thoughts a lot since I read it. I even looked in the dictionary to find synonyms for revise. Change, rewrite, correct—all these words mean the same. They’re also part of the writer’s vocabulary. Getting the words down on paper is just the first step. The real work comes afterwards in the rewrites, corrections, and the editing.

I’ve been doing some revisions on my WIP recently, and it brought to mind the title of a movie some years ago—The Never-Ending Story. I think that’s what my latest novel could be. Every time I reread what I’ve written, something jumps from the page that makes me wonder who inhabited my body when I penned those words. Sentences that I once thought were filled with deep emotion and thought-provoking ideas suddenly seem trite and silly. With one click they disappear and leave a void on the page that must be filled with something meaningful and worthy of a published author.

A multi-published author once said in a workshop I attended that a writer could never quit editing what he/she had written. Rather, there had to come a point when the work was abandoned. I’ve thought about that, too, and I can see the logic of the statement when it refers to something we’re creating. When it comes to life, though, that’s an entirely different matter.

The second part of the quote about revising holds the key to what makes for success and happiness in life. We've all known people who embarked upon new ventures late in life or those who made drastic changes in lifestyle. Agnes Mary Robertson (Grandma Moses) was almost eighty years old when she sold her first painting. Richard Simmons lost 123 pounds and became a standard bearer for health and physical fitness. John Newton was a slave trader until he was converted and penned Amazing Grace. We’ve also known those who gave up their dreams, like the abandoned literary piece, and settled down to live out their days without ever having reached for what might have been within their grasp.

For the past few years I’ve been revising my life. After thirty-three years in education I retired to pursue something different—writing. It had been a life-long dream, but I’d hidden it away until I could find time for it. I’d used excuses like—when the children are grown, when the mortgage is paid off, when I retire. As Yul Brynner said in the King and I, “Etc., etc., etc.”

Yeah, I had all the etceteras in my life, and I embraced every one of them. Then one night it occurred to me that life is fleeting. If I wanted to write a book, I needed to get on with it. I went to the computer and began to write, just write. The idea for a book began to materialize, and months later I’d completed a 95,000 word historical romance. That book has never sold, but I did get an agent with it. I found ACFW (ACRW at the time) and met new friends who had the same dream. At an ACFW conference I met Susan Downs who would later buy my first book.

God was faithful and good to me as I pursued my dream, and He’s been right there with me. There’ve been a few detours, like the heart attack I suffered, but He was with me through that and blessed me with a renewed commitment to live life to the fullest. And I haven’t slowed down since. The journey has been filled with excitement, fulfillment, and disappointments, but I wouldn’t change anything about it. It’s been a thrilling trip!

But what about you? Do you have a dream that you want to accomplish in your life? Don’t squander your days putting off something that seems overwhelming or too difficult to accomplish. You’ve already got a great supporter on your side. With His help you can accomplish those things you would never be able to do on your own whether it's write a book, change a habit, or surrender your will to Him. You won’t be sorry.

So what are you waiting for? Revise, revise, revise.
Sandra Robbins' first book released this year from Barbour Publishing in its new Heartsong Presents Mysteries.
Pedigreed Bloodlines is a cozy mystery set in the fictional Smoky Mountain Resort town of St. Claire, North Carolina and introduces Leigh Dennison as the antique dealer turned sleuth when the woman who has been like a mother to her is murdered. Leigh who struggles with ADD, her best friend Marcie Payton, and Blake Cameron, the love of her life, will return in two more adventures. Find out more at Sandra's website:
and Sandra's blog:


  1. Hi Sandra, sounds like good advice.
    I think I have your book on my bookshelf ready to read (If not I will soon) as i signed up for the cozy mystries and I do love reading them. I love series of them also.

  2. Hey girl, great post. Sometimes revision can be long and painful, but it's always for the best. Nice work.

  3. Really from the heart, Sandra. I absolutely love "hearing" your wisdom. Now all I need to do is really practice it. Love you, girl!

    I know, I know, Janelle. Two "loves" in one paragraph. Revise, revise, revise. :)

  4. Sandra, it's good to hear that there are others who revise ad nauseam. I've heard many say that you just have to hang it up, I guess that's what you meant by abandon it. I pray He'll tell me when it's abandoning time, because I can't seem to let my first ms's revisions come to an end even though it's a grueling job by now.

  5. Sandra, Welcome to Seekerville! And thanks for your insightful post. I love the quote: It's never too late - in fiction or in life - to revise. It reminds me of another quote: God's not finished with me yet.

    Thank goodness! :-)

    Striving to improve my writing is never done either. That's all good. We can't attain perfection, but we can give it our best shot.

    Glad you've recovered from your heart attack and are living your dream.


  6. Oh, wow. Seekerville has always been a high-rent neighborhood, so it doesn’t surprise me to see a classy gal like Sandra rubbing shoulders over here.

    Very inspirational post, Sandra. I found my passion for writing late in life, too. It’s great to finally discover what you always wanted to be when you grew up, right? Like I always say—better late than never.

  7. I can vouch for Sandra cranking out the words after she retired. She must have worked harder in the months following her retirement than she did when she was a principal!! LOL!

    You're an inspiration, Sandra. Love you!

  8. zdtxzHigh rent neighborhood, huh?

    But not quite a gated community. At least not yet, LOL!

    And Unpubbed Island is always open to the lonely, the downtrodden, the stomped on and broken-hearted.

    Jeepers. That's a country song, Elvis-style.

    Sandra! Great post. Welcome aboard. The HP mysteries are great reads (the ones I've read so far, anyway) and it's a pleasure to have you here.

    I brought breakfast pizza for all. Gotta try it. Totally awesome and filling. It's topped with scrambled egg, country sausage, two kinds of cheese and home-fries. It's like a frittata on chewy Italian bread.

    And of course the morning coffee bar is stocked with cappuccino makings, espresso and plain old joe.

    Good to see so many early risers. Yay, you!!!


  9. Your book must be in cycle 3. I don't have it yet. But SOON.

    I love the idea of abandoning your wip. I just received galleys on a novella and I saw several things that made me say "how did that get by me AND the editor?"

    And amen to finding new dreams as we get older. My poor daughter couldn't see that, that the dreams that failed her early could be "revised and reborn."

  10. Hey, Gang. I just got to read


    Marcia Gruver's book.
    I got it early. :)

    Marcia, I hope you check back in and see this.
    It's really a good book. A great story with these wonderful characters and ...
    I don't quite know how to explain the fun of the story with this overall tension and sense that something big is ... coming.

    Hard to put down, in fact I stayed up late finishing it because I had to know what happened.
    Excellent, Marcia.

  11. Sandra, Thanks for the great post. Revise, revise, revise.
    Plus what dreams are you NOT pursuing.

    What's that saying.... "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans."
    Something like that.

    I've got another one I really think of a lot. "Don't wish your life away."
    We see a struggle ahead and think, "Just get through this and THEN I'll go pursue my dreams, or THEN life will be all the way I want it."
    And somehow, your kids are grown and you're fifty-umph years old and you now have a bad knee and can no longer imagine climbing Machu Piccu or parachuting out of an airplane or........whatever once was a dream.

    So revise yes, but part of that revision should be living in the NOW.

  12. Mary, you are so right about Marcia's book. I'm privileged to be one of her crit partners, and I was there from the beginning of Diamond Duo. I can't wait for everyone to read it. And shhh!, keep this a secret. But the second one in the series is just as great.

    Sandra Robbins

  13. Mary, I'm speechless.

    Good thing I can still type: Thank you! Coming from you that's a huge compliment. did you read it early? What's going on that I don't know about?

  14. Hey, Sandra! It's good to see the success of a West Tennesseean! And I'm sure you were just as inspirational and used by God as a principal as you are a writer.

    Sometimes pursuing a dream can be painful, but it teaches you so much, ESPECIALLY when it's painful! God isn't finished with me yet. Obviously. Since he's sending me to camp with 9 kids for 3 nights and 4 days. Lord, have mercy.

  15. Wonderful advice, Sandra. I know the feeling. I revise, revise and revise. And as soon as I hit the send button to deliver my manuscript to the publisher, I think, "Wait a minute! I should have..." Sigh. But at some point, we have to trust God and believe we've done the best we can.

    And after that...there are editors! LOL!


  16. Revision is my favorite part of writing! When my substantive edits come from my two editors, it's a red letter day and I can't stop smiling. I LOVE it!

    A great book I just read on the craft of writing is Revision and Self-Editing by James Scott Bell. It's awesome, the most practical, hands on book I've ever read.

    Great post, Sandra!

  17. Rebecca Germany asked me if I'd endorse it.

    I'll try to do you justice, Marcia.

    And I have all sorts of ideas for what book #2 should be :)

    That's my job right? To pick book #2...hadn't you heard? LOL

    I'm interested to see where you went with it. I love that it's based in a true event. That underlying fact really seemed to hook me hard.

  18. I'm looking forward to the next cycle, too, Sandra.

    The Pedigreed Bloodlines ... I'm assuming...never safe...that you're using a backdrop of dogs or pure bred dogs. I think I read the beginning of this somehow? Did you have it up on the Spyglass Lane blog, or maybe just wrote about it. I love books that give you a look inside a different world.

  19. Mary, how cool is that? God is Would you believe I planned all along to ask Becky to approach you about an endorsement? Now I find out it’s already a done deal? Too cool. Can't wait to read it.

    Actually Book #2 is finished. But you can help me write book #3. :)

  20. About late starts in life -- my mom started college when she was 47 and finished with a bachelor of arts (concentration in fine arts) when she was 64. When her brother and mom were terminally ill, one right after the other, she could only manage one class per semester.

    Anyway, you're right, it's never too late.

    I keep telling myself that while I watch the tides roll in and out from teh shore of Unpubbed Island ;-)

  21. Great post, and very inspirational, Sandra! :)

  22. So glad to have you in Seekerville, Sandra! Thanks for your great post.

    I'm in the middle of revisions right now! :)


  23. What a lovely post, Sandra. Welcome to Seekerville. I'm not late, it's time for dessert!!!

    And brava for you for reaching for your dreams.