Last week I published Part 2 of my pre-published author’s journey series. If you didn’t catch it, click here. Or here for Part 1. Our writer characters have faced several Ys in the road — a series of choices that either led closer toward the goal of publishing or farther away. So far, they’ve chosen to plod onward attending writing conferences, learning craft from various sources, perhaps even joining a group such as ACFW, Novel Academy, or Serious Writer, and/or one or more critique groups to share work. They’ve opted to spend some hard-earned cash on these and other resources, taken time to read in their genre and analyze good fiction, purchased some craft books or attended webinars. They’ve started writing their own stories, fleshing them out with motivated, flawed characters and a rich plot.
The Dark Moment
Then, it comes! That moment when someone asks, “Why are you wasting your time writing?” Or, that expert or professional breaks apart your story and reveals all your mistakes. That scene you loved wasn’t so well done after all. According to their feedback, you head hopped in paragraph 3 and all your characters sound exactly alike. There are too many characters in the first scene and the reader will never keep them straight, especially since three of their names begin with “L.” And what’s up with the 2 paragraphs of backstory and the flashback on page 3?
The next day at lunch your co-worker asks where they can buy that book you wrote. You have to tell them it isn’t published yet, and they look at you in bewilderment. It takes time, you tell them. Didn’t you just have this same conversation last week? Your stomach twists and your heart shrivels in your chest. You break away to vomit in the bathroom. You sink onto the chilly tile, your head in your hands, your dream in danger of fracturing into a million tiny pieces.
This, my friends, is known as the dark moment event. It is the moment when all seems lost. Despair and darkness are winning, the hero or heroine cannot prevail nor see any way forward. They have lost. They are confronted with the lie they believe – I’m not good enough. I can’t do this. Whatever it might be. Then they realize the lie.
Now comes the moment of truth. Will our characters give up?
Following this, comes a moment of truth. Will our writers give up? Or, will they rise up and limp forward despite the seeming hopelessness of the act. Will they struggle over that last rise, push on through the final curve, slash through the last barbed vine to emerge nearer to their destination than they’d have believed possible?
If they trusts they’re on God’s path, following the leading of the Holy Spirit, they will. And just when they emerge from the dark forest, a gorgeous sunrise greets them, and they are breathless in awe of the beauty before them.
That is a description of the author who surrounds himself with those who will encourage him when he feels like giving up. Who will urge him on and hold him accountable for his writing. Who will share stories of what it was like in their own struggle to become published. The years of waiting, of learning, of connecting, of spending money they didn’t have on experiences they needed, but couldn’t afford. Of being blessed by others who provided funds, or smiles, or kind words.
These are the truth tellers. Every hero and heroine needs one. Someone who can help them up, dust them off, and reveal the lies the enemy has dumped all over them.
Storm the Castle and learn what we can now do that we couldn’t do at the beginning.
Now, it is time to storm the castle and rescue the damsel, or regain the priceless heirloom, or break the bad guys’ hold. We must rally our forces, pray for blessings and guidance holding aloft the sword of the spirit and refuse to relinquish our quest for publication. In doing this we have our epiphany and learn what it is we can now do, that we couldn’t do at the beginning of the story. Hopefully, that is write better, understand the business of writing better, and a whole host of other things. All that is left is the satisfying ending.
Conferences, contests, continued forward motion
I attended my first writing conference at Taylor University. I went in rather blind, unsure and unaware of what I’d find. I came out with more friends, knowledge, and experiences than when I went in. I pitched my book for the first time, having learned to create a One Sheet – an advertisement of sorts. This small conference spring-boarded me into my first ginormous conference in Nashville––ACFW. Again, I made friends, stared at and even got pictures with, some of my favorite authors, pitched my story and learned sooo much about writing and the business of writing.
I just attended my third ACFW conference, this one virtual unfortunately, pitched my book, and received a request to share several chapters and a synopsis with an agent. Whether or not she extends an offer of representation, I have been affirmed. I refuse to wallow in the lies that I am not good enough, or smart enough, or talented enough to become published. I am following God’s will. He made me a writer, and as long as he wants me to pursue this journey, I intend to continue. I believe I will gain representation and become published when the timing is right.
In the meantime, I build up my newsletter list. Join here for writing/publishing updates, book recommendations, occasional freebies, and more. I continue to blog, add followers on Twitter, Instagram, and practice my craft by submitting work to contests for professional feedback and to my crit group. Every Thursday, I tune in to the PepTalk presented by Novel Academy that teaches about some aspect of writing or the writer’s life. I also read other blogs or listen to podcasts to learn more. There is a list of podcasts and blogs at the end of this post that I have found helpful. There are many others as well that I don’t know about. Google is your friend here.
As I write this, I’m hunting for a craft partner. A person who will work with me and I with her/him to brainstorm, figure out plotting issues, make suggestions, read each other’s work, and give career advice. This is a huge commitment and another step toward my satisfying ending where my published book is sitting on a shelf at the local library and Barnes and Noble, as well as a virtual shelf on Amazon and readers’ e-readers, and my own shelf at home.
I hope this series has been helpful and encouraging. If you have any questions or advise to add, please comment or send me an email. I’d love to hear from you! Share with anyone who may benefit from these words.
Helpful Blogs, Podcasts, and craft books
- Novel Marketing podcast by Thomas Umstattd, Jr. Tips on all things marketing
- Author Media blog by Thomas Umstattd, Jr. Tips on all things writing and author-related
- Helping Writers Become Authors by K. M. Weiland Writing advice, tips, many writing books
- Learn How to Write a Novel blog More writing tips and advice from various authors
- The Story Equation by Susan May Warren
- Creating Character Arcs by K. M. Weiland
- The Emotion Thesaurus (and others) by Angela Ackerman
- Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody
- The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
- And so many more!!