Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Why I quit writing for publication and will tell stories again.


I have been writing for publication--the big dream most writers have--for ten years. In the spring of 2013, I sold my first book to a small publisher. Sure, I remember that feeling of excitement when it came out in the spring of 2015 and hoping it made it big. All those thoughts writers entertain. Then reality set in. I sold around 500 copies and made less than I did for a Chicken Soup story. But I told myself that's what happens with first books. You just need to write another book. A better one. It's not about the money, it's about never giving up.

I've been telling myself that same story with each novel I wrote. I studied the craft, hired editors, used critique partners, beta readers, promoted myself on social media. What more could I do? When I landed an agent with my book in the fall of 2014, I figured my hard work had paid off. Now I would land a contract with a big publisher. Wrong again. This spring, I learned  my book had been passed  by the big three. 

I parted ways with my agent in September. I felt she could use her time with better writers. Besides, I hadn't written anything new after finishing my tenth novel that spring.  A book for the general market and my agent worked in the Christian market. I wasn't sure what I was doing anymore but I knew that the big dream was not doing it for me. I was miserable.

I missed storytelling for the sake of telling a story. I no longer wanted to write a certain genre or style to satisfy a publisher or an agent or to get published. When I realized how I felt, I also realized it was time to do something else.

At first I thought I might never write again. But on the advice of a writer friend,  I sent out a few non-fiction articles here and there and received good news. I started with non-fiction and enjoyed writing stories that moved my heart or those I wrote about. 

Then I thought about the stories I told my grandchildren--how their eyes lit and how they hung on each word until the very end. Princess stories. Hero stories. Feel-good stories.

When I started my writing journey, I wrote stories because I loved the story. I wanted that again. And so with the help of a dear friend here, I may do that again. The story might never be published. But that's okay. I'll write the story for my granddaughter. Maybe someday I'll write one for my grandson. 

That's a big enough audience for me. The best audience. 

And if the Lord should have different plans for my writing, I'm listening. But I think He's happy that I've found my love again and will use my skills like this. 

The hardest part of this decision was releasing that crazy dream. Learning to be content and let go of that goal. But in the past few weeks, I have discovered the new dream is much, much better.


10 comments:

Shirl said...

Oh, how I love this post! I think that's where I've gone off track. Focused too much on 'doing it right' and losing the story in the process. Losing my heart...

Marja Verschoor-Meijers said...

Well said and (certainly) well written Terry, I can feel your heart beat!

Lynn J Simpson said...

What a learning journey for you Terri! And now it's got you here. Whatever you end up writing, I am sure the road already travel was one full of lessons and learning to light this next part of the journey. Nice to see your writing here today, too!

Deborah said...

I'm so happy to read this, Terri! I know your grandchildren will be blessed by the stories you write...and I have a feeling others will be too!

Lin Floyd said...

life is what happens while you are making/persuing other plans...lol! You might enjoy writing a weekly column. i did that for 6.5 years for free in a retirement weekly or church newsletter. PRay about it, lots of opportunities. I love writing family history stories and publishing them just for my family and especially my grand children. Also how about your life story?

Sally Chambers said...

Just a great big smile from me, dear Terri. Great post.
SO happy you're walking a beautiful path through gardens of photos and words. Many have been blessed and many more will be by your gifts! ☺

Tim George said...

Remember an agreement we made years ago about agents and getting published? I understand your heart and choices.

At 60, my greatest satisfaction as a writer is sitting with our 12-year-old granddaughter while she bubbles over about her novel. The girl writes all the time, literally.

Saleslady371 said...

I am so happy you did not give up writing. It is such a beautiful gift. And I think you're a wise woman to let the Lord tweak your gift to His satisfaction and direction. That is the happiest place to be. This year should be an interesting one for you. God bless!

Cheryl Wright said...

Aaaawww, I loved The Mulligan and often wonder when you'll write another novel. Nevertheless I understand and support your decision.

May God grant you success (whatever form it takes) and joy unspeakable as you tread this path.

Betty Draper said...

I so get this one, not because I have ever written a book but about 30 years ago I gave up singing to follow my husband to the mission field. Yep, I am one of those submissive wife who has never been led wrong by God when I walk uprightly in that role. When I look back at all the life God has allow me to experience, serving in two countries, now in a stateside ministry I am glad God led me a different way. Way back then I sang with two other ladies, we were known as, "Sweet Spirit" and doors were opening everywhere for us. Then God open another door and there were times I ask Him why two doors at once God. Maybe it was a test but hindsight is always insight and now I see clearly why I needed to make that choice. Oh I still sing once in a while but it is purely for pleasure of pleasing Him and not others. This post was wonderful, thank you for your honest spirit filled words. Happy New Year.