No, I’m not throwing in the towel and quitting. I love writing and couldn’t stop if I wanted to. But I will be the first to admit that I wasn’t as ready for my dreams to come true as I thought I was. Part of being a published author means that now I have to prove to my agent, my editor, and my publisher that I can produce. No one wants to throw a party to celebrate a new, upcoming author and then have to wait five years for the next book. It’s bad. Trust me. It’s bad.
The day I announced I’d sold my first book to Harlequin, I got a wonderful note of congratulations from our friend Tina. Along with a few words of wisdom. “It’s time to make some hard decisions. You can’t go on like this forever and be a published author.”
Boy, was she right. (Isn’t she always?) I’m a public school teacher during the day. I own and run a tumbling business in the evenings. I babysit my granddaughter on the weekends. And last year I ran a national contest for my writing chapter. Every moment of every day was packed. I was right in the middle of all this when I got my contract. Throw in buying a new house and moving in there somewhere too.
So at the peak of what should’ve been the most exciting time of my life, I felt like I was at the bottom of a well that I couldn’t get out of. By the time I got home at night, I was drained. The last thing I wanted to do was write. Weekends were out most of the time. Saturday’s were spent with my granddaughter and although I was able to write a few words in between naps, the day was usually unproductive. And Sundays? Forget it. Even though my husband tried to be supportive of my writing career, every time I sat down at the computer on Sunday, he rolled his eyes and said “So this is all we’re going to do all day?” or “At the computer again?” Feeling guilty for neglecting my husband, I often closed my laptop to go wherever my husband wanted to go.
Shortly before I got my contract, I’d submitted a second book that was about 75% done, to the same editor. She thought it had potential and wanted to see it when it was finished. As badly as I wanted to finish the book and turn it into my agent, my writer brain wasn’t working. After a few weeks of not writing, my characters began scolding me, guilt set in and stress shot up. I started resenting my husband, my job, my business and everyone that posted those glorious “THE END” pictures on social media.
I looked at other writing friends who had more than one job, some of them also attended school full time and were raising a family, and thought, I can do this. I just have to manage my time better. Getting up earlier in the mornings to write before I left for school? Did that for months. Staying up late and working after the hubby went to bed? Did that too. But my heart wasn’t where it should be. I was drained. Totally. Completely drained. Life had pushed me into the dirt and all because of my own doing.
But I pressed on. Getting up earlier. Staying up later. When my agent emailed me to tell me that my editor was getting really antsy for my next book and wanted to know when he could expect it, I was so excited. It refreshed me and I got excited again. Because it was about 3 chapters until being completely done, I told him it would be done in three weeks. Easily doable. Right? HA!
Being mentally and physically exhausted, my immune system was down and for the first time in fifteen years as a public school teacher, every little germ my darlings came to school with found its way to me. I spent over a week in bed and even more days fighting illness. My critique partners all scolded me for letting myself get so worn out. One of them even threatened to hold an intervention to force me to get things off my plate.
Even though it took a little longer than expected, I finished as quickly as I could and promised it to my agent that weekend. Finally. Almost done. Then, Saturday, my granddaughter pulled my laptop off the table and the flash drive that holds all my information was broken off into the computer and the computer refused to turn on. Add a couple of weeks for the computer to be repaired and the contents of the flash drive to be restored. Except the file was corrupted. And the motherboard had been replaced so the automatic saves that my programs did was lost. Thank goodness I’d backed up some of the manuscript to Dropbox and was able to recover it, but I still had five chapters that were gone.
By this time, I was ready to throw in the towel. Because, after all, by this time, I’m sure my agent has lost complete faith in me. My editor will just laugh and say “LeAnne who?” the next time she sees my name. Yep. Stick a fork in me. I figured I was done. No one will ever want to work with me again. I felt pressure from all sides.
For months I’d been pressing on while life was shoving me back. I got so determined to break through the obstacles in my way that it became all about me. How could I manage my time? How could I arrange my schedule for me? Can you guess what I was leaving out in the midst of all my stressing, worrying and running around? Or I guess, the correct question is who. Yep. I was so busy trying to prove that I could do it all myself, that I’d left God out of the equation. And all because I didn’t want to admit that I couldn’t do it.
I guess you could say God finally got tired of waiting for me to remember that he was ultimately in control. One morning, I drug myself to the bathroom and got in the shower. My favorite Bible study program was streaming through my tablet and the message as so powerful and so directed at me that I shut off the water and hit my knees. He’d given me the desire and ability to write and in my thirst for success, I’d forgotten Him. There is nothing in this world more powerful than that moment when you are finally still and know that He is God. After some private time with the Lord, I emailed my critique partners and prayer warriors, asking for their continued prayers. That same day, I listed my business for sale and contacted a couple of former tumbling students to see if they were interested in teaching some of my classes for me. The following week, a girl that had taught gymnastics for me contacted me about coming back to work and eventually taking the business over completely.
My schedule still isn’t as clear as I would like to be, but as soon as I relinquished all to the Lord, He removed a lot of the obstacles in my path. Now I can press on knowing that He has my back. I’m making the final edits on my book right now. Whatever happens, I’ll press on. But this time, I’ll let God lead the way.
What about you? Have you experienced a time when life seemed to be pushing you down? Did you turn it over to God immediately, or did you need a “gentle” nudge from Him to get you back on the right path? What tips do you have for keeping the stress down and motivation up?
Today, LeAnne is giving away a copy of Her Texas Rebel to one commenter. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition!
He left so fast, she never got a chance…
He abandoned her when she needed him most, just as she'd discovered she was pregnant. And now, ten years later, struggling single mother Sabrina Davis has come home in search of refuge for her at-risk son. Except Tony Montoya, now a cop, has also returned to Salt Creek, Texas.
Recovering from being shot in the line of duty, Tony plans to use this time in his hometown to make amends for the trouble he caused as a youth. Amends for breaking Sabrina's heart. But trouble seems to follow the police officer no matter where he goes, and he doesn't want to hurt the woman he never stopped loving…or the son he's just found.
LeAnne Bristow may have been born and raised in central Texas, but she’s a desert rat at heart. After calling Southeast Arizona home for more than twenty-five years, her husband finally let her claim the title of an Arizonan. Her day job is teaching kindergarten, but her favorite pupil is her granddaughter and LeAnne is determined to teach her how to catch lizards and love the desert as much as she does.