Whatever your personal goals, I’ll bet you’ve made sacrifices to achieve them. Life seldom tosses your dreams at your feet. You have to go for it. You have to be hungry. Whatever it is you really want, you have to want it bad, or chances are good you’ll quit before the prize is yours. That’s the kind of passion that will help you overcome the inevitable obstacles and challenges you’ll experience on the road to success.
I’m determined to become a successful self-published author. To make that happen, I’ve transitioned over this past year from a full-time corporate job to writing full-time and working with wonderful clients as a blog coach. Last June, I canceled the cable. In September, I swapped the $50 per month land line for a $10 Internet phone that only works when the Wi-Fi is on. I haven’t bought a stitch of new clothing since last summer, and now I’ve “hired” myself to paint the house so I won’t dip into my savings to get it done. And trust me, I’m fine with all of it. Why? Because I’ve decided that getting where I want to go is more important than anything else. And I’m not the only one! Meet three successful authors who feel the same way:
Have I made any sacrifices as a writer? Let me count the ways! First of all, I was a biology major in college with the intention of becoming a doctor, but I gave up that idea the minute I took a creative writing course senior year. When I discovered writing, I never got around to going to medical school, having letters after my name, or making any significant salary. Consequently, everything has gone toward supporting my fiction habit. I’ve been driving used cars all my life, and I’ve had to scramble to make a living, cobbling together jobs as unlikely as putting insulation into houses as part of a construction crew and proofreading telephone books back in the days when they had them. These days I’m lucky enough to write for a living, but it was a long road to get here.
I have also spent many, many late nights at my laptop, giving up sleep to write because I had to wait until the kids were in bed to write fiction. As they got older, my children also had to suffer through their mother often editing manuscripts or scribbling in her journal on the sly when she was supposed to be cheering them on at athletics events. I probably missed some great moments.
Other sacrifices include giving up vacations to finish books that are on deadline. While everyone else is off hiking or swimming, I’m often writing, frantically revising or editing so a book can come out on time. Book deadlines do not respect family vacations.
Oh, and my marriage has suffered as well. Spouses never know what to say or do to cheer us up when we writers are suffering a crisis in confidence. One memorable novel rejection sent me into such a tailspin of despair that I drank half a bottle of Grand Marnier while watching the movie “Moulin Rouge” and weeping. From the hallway, I repeatedly heard my husband say, “Kids, don’t go in there. Your mother’s not herself.”
Bette Lee Crosby
Often we see an author who seemingly has gained overnight success…but chances are that success was not nearly as overnight as you might think. Before “Spare Change” hit the USA Today Bestseller list, I spent almost fifteen years honing my craft, and I have five or more novels that will justifiably never see the light of day. They’re simply not good enough. They were part of my learning curve.
I love writing and I’ve always written; but during most of my career it was for business. When I switched to fiction the learning curve was huge. Bigger than huge, it was monumental. In business writing your goal is to cut through the small talk and get to the point, with fiction it’s the exact opposite. I had to unlearn everything I knew and start over. Instead of focusing on the destination, I had to focus on the details of the journey. It was time to stop and appreciate the beauty of prose.
Was it was worth it? Yes, a thousand times over. Okay, I’ve sacrificed sleep and a personal life to keep up with everything this past year, but I wouldn’t change it. I’m doing what I love to do. If you are an author who is still struggling to find your niche in today’s constantly changing marketplace, stay with it. Don’t focus on the goal; focus on the journey. Enjoy every minute you spend writing—because if you’re not writing for fun, the truth is you shouldn’t be writing.
I got into my career in writing by stages. There was the starry-eyed, “I’m going to be an empty nester so I can finally write that novel!” stage, where I wrote Blood Orchids in my “free time” between a full time job and the last few years of parenting. That took three years. Then, there was the “OMG I’m selling this book, I better write more!” stage where I wrote Torch Ginger and Black Jasmine for my agent to sell as a series (while working full time) and for that, I gave up not only “free time” but socializing in any form, and TV.
This was followed by self-publishing, and realizing that the more titles I had out, the better I was going to be, which is when I really cranked things up – and by then I’d added my private practice to the mix. I maintained this brutal 55-hour workweek + writing schedule for 3 years while kids were in college and my husband had a bad health year and couldn’t work…and finally I was successful enough to quit the main job.
Now I just have private practice and full time author/publisher. TV, socializing and “free time” are still a distant memory. I also have no hobbies but writing, no friends that aren’t writers…well, you get the picture. Obsession and discipline are what it takes to succeed!
Readers, what kind of sacrifices have you made on your way to achieving your dreams? Leave a comment and share!
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