I am excited to host today’s post from another previous CHANGES conversations between authors’ guest (Episode 15; see below for links), blogger and author, Krysten Lindsay Hager
“Trust the Process”
Years ago, whenever I’d go to writing conferences, workshops, or critique groups, there was always one particular type of writer that showed up and made me feel anxious. I would wonder what I was doing with my life and/or career. It wasn’t that this person’s success made me question my work; they’d say something that seemed to imply that if we were not getting our work published, then we didn’t count as “real writers.”
I joined a critique group a few years ago that got me back into enjoying the very act of writing again. I found that having regular meetings was keeping me accountable and I enjoyed getting constructive criticism and feedback. I also appreciated talking about the story with people who were on the journey with me and my characters.
Then, another person came along with the constant talk about all the agents and editors they had met and often dismissing anything that wasn’t “hot” in the industry at the moment. I’ll never forget the day I brought a chapter of my young adult novel to read and I was excited to share it, but right before I went to read, this person declared that no agent or editor would ever be interested in my novel because it was written in first person. Her tone very dismissive, as if I shouldn’t even bother. I sat there feeling so small. I went on to read, but even I could hear the insecurity in my voice. I sounded like a little kid who had been reprimanded.
I went home that night and started to think about my story, how writing it and editing it had brought me so much joy. I had begun to rewrite that novel during a difficult time for me. I had gotten sick and was dealing with a whole new way of life. That story had brought me back, so to speak.
It hit me that the point of the writing process for me hadn’t been whether or not this piece got published, but the enjoyment I got from writing and working on it and sharing it with other people who enjoyed it as well. As I folded laundry that night (doing laundry is my stress reliever), I realized that there was more to writing than just getting to what some called the final destination—-publication. It was about the journey for me.
So, a few weeks later, I returned to the group, determined not to let this person into my head. They again put out little comments about how I shouldn’t bother with a first-person narrative, but this time I took it as an opinion and not the final word.
That night, I started reading a book called The Creative Call, which talks a lot about how it’s not about what the work can do for you or getting it published, but what the work can do for others. Reading that took the pressure off.
However, when I mentioned this very thing to my writing group a few weeks later, some of them weren’t receptive to it. A few of them had publication as their only goal. That’s fine, but for me, this was what I choose to believe: that I would do the work and leave the outcome (and my ego) out of what would make this story successful in my eyes. Even if the book were never published, I felt that writing, finishing, sharing and enjoying it would be enough for me.
A week after I finished reading The Creative Call, I realized that maybe I should send out my young adult novel, True Colors, to see if it would be something that might help teens dealing with the similar self-esteem/self-image and other young teen issues that my character faces. I knew that trying to navigate through upper elementary and middle school while attempting to fit in as well as dealing with frenemies and mean girls would resonate with many readers. I submitted the story.
In less than two months, I got a contract for the book. I remember sitting at my computer staring at that acceptance email and I felt a calmness come over me. It felt as if a weight had been lifted. I guess I had always assumed I’d be dancing around the room, but it was more like a confirmation that writing was the right path for me. I knew that I was supposed to share my novel. Receiving the contract and knowing that the book (my first book in the Landry’s True Colors Series) was going to be published ended up not being about me at all, but more about what I could share with others.
The books I have written as part of this series are the ones I would have wanted to read at that age. The first one was now going out there into the world, which said to me that maybe there kids out there who need to read about these issues.
A lot of people go into writing wanting fame, money, etc., but I think that takes away from the purpose of writing a book. It’s not what you can get out of it, it’s what you can give back. For me, it has been about those messages and comments I’ve gotten from people who say that, when they see my character, Landry, and her insecurities and worries, they feel less alone in what they are going through. When I heard about a teen who had been upset about dealing with being left out by people she had called “best friends,” then she had read my book and gotten perspective on the situation, well, that made me happier than I was the day I signed that first contract. It made me feel that I had a purpose.
Sure, it took me a while to get to a place where I saw the benefits of enjoying the journey and not focusing on the end goal or numbers. However, it has been so gratifying to appreciate the writing process more fully and to feel connected to my greater purpose.
Krysten Lindsay Hager is a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. She is the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series. Originally from Michigan, Krysten has lived in Portugal and South Dakota; she currently resides in Southern Ohio, where you can find her reading and writing, when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.
Connect with Krysten Lindsay Hager:
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Krysten-Lindsay-Hager/e/B00L2JC9P2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Book trailer provided by Videos by O.
If you enjoyed this post, please comment/like it here AND go visit Krysten’s sites.
Here is the cover of Best Friends Forever, Book Two in her Landry’s True Colors Series:
Krysten Lindsay Hager was my guest on Episode 15 of CHANGES conversations between authors. Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time:
Learn more about and get yourself or recommend someone to be scheduled as a guest: https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/
Want to be a guest blogger on my site? Visit my “Guest Bloggers Hall of Fame” to review other guest posts, read my guidelines and then contact me if you’re interested: http://www.sallyember.com/guest-bloggers-hall-of-fame/