Along with the release of Smoke and Ashes my life has been humming along in the background, busier than ever. In the many events, signings, travels, and interviews I’ve been involved with lately, I had loads of wonderful questions, but one really great one… a question about my that has stuck with me over the weeks and helped me to objectively evaluate all life’s exquisite motion.
The question was simple: What motivates you to keep pushing forward?
At the time it was just a question about writing and in that case the answer was simple. I write because I’m drawn to it. It is my passion. It is just as much a part of me as the air I breathe. There are days in which I don’t write, in which life steps into the way and blocks me from my passion. Those are the days I feel lost, adrift in a world that is moving fast, changing, and evolving under my fingertips. In a way, writing is the way to experience the changes, the evolution of life and feelings, and the way to process all the information that barrages my thoughts and actions.
I’ve been writing forever. Since I was a child. I didn’t know I was destined to be a writer. I had MANY moments in time in which people pushed me away from writing, even though I had a strength for it (ask me about being falsely accused of plagiarism in high school, but be ready for an earful). So when it came time to decide where I wanted to focus my attention in adulthood, writing wasn’t an option. In my very sheltered and rural world I felt I had only two viable options: 1) Teaching (which would have been great, but I have the patience of a lion trying to peel a banana—a HUGE thank you to all of you out there who have become teachers. NO seriously. Thank you.) or 2) Going into the health care field (this I tried, turns out I also have terrible patience for undeserved whining—yes, please tell me how bad that sliver feels while I’m sitting with a sick child or an elderly woman with two broken hips who is so tough that she refuses her pain meds… please, I dare you).
Eventually I became a mom, focusing on the family and the needs that went along with being an island. I was a safe haven. I supported others around me as they followed their passions and found their callings in life. And I looked at my own, I reflected, I thought of the toughest moments of my short-ish life and analyzed my soul.
I’m adventurous by nature, one of those people who will try anything once—even when fear tries to hold me hostage. Writing was like that. I knew I liked it. It made me feel something beyond being an island. It made me dig at those sore spots, the ones that everyone has—those moments in time that you make the wrong choice, or embarrassed yourself, or made yourself act in a way that was for the sake of others rather than for yourself… there are a thousand of them. And I drew off them. I drew off my fears. I drew off my past failures. And I set pen to paper. Literally. The first novel I tried to write was five pages on a yellow legal pad. I gave up. I was afraid. I was afraid I didn’t have talent. Heck, I hadn’t taken a creative writing course since high school. I was too old and too young to have such frivolous ideas of writing a book. I mean do you know the odds of being published? (That was before I knew anything about the world of Amazon.) No one I knew had the freedom to be a writer—except journalists. And well, frankly I didn’t know any of them either.
All I knew was that I needed to keep pushing. So I started out small. Writing little, unpaid pieces for a small, local startup magazine (which is now not a small magazine, rather a magazine with world-wide circulation and one heck of an editor).
These little things empowered me to finally start and finish my first real novel. It was terrible. (I looked at it the other day and saw some redeemable qualities… a few random gems in a dump of words.) I sent it in to publishers and received the almost obligatory rejections that all first-time writers get. After a few months. I saw it for the massive sinkhole it was. I cried. I picked myself up. I joined a writers group. I finally recognized that I had an obsession a passion for the creative process, and I was going to dive in head first.
Fast forward a few years… There has been ample struggle. There is always the fear of rejection. There is always the fear of being judged for your passion (someone refused to come to an event I was hosting recently because as a ‘romance’ author I wasn’t a good example for their child). Needless to say, there continues to be struggles. The battles change from where they started at the beginning, but day-to-day you must fight. You must dig deep and often sacrifice for your calling. When people try to strip you of your passion, or marginalize it, you must have the strength to carry your head high and let their acidic words drip from you without letting them leave you with too much of a scar (I’d love to tell you to simply let them roll off, but the truth is that we’re human. No matter how old you are, male or female, rich or poor, words will always carry the vitriolic power to leave a mark.)
When you look back and are asked what motivates you the answer must always be simple: it must be the power inside you. It must be the passionate fire that burns away the negative and even in the darkest moments lights your path.
Wherever your passion lies, hold on to it with both hands. Passion is power. And power will always lead to success (often not the kind that you were seeking, but the kind of success that rests in the heart).