Posted by: Emily Shaw on Jul 8 2012, 1:00 am in , , ,

Two years ago, a friend of mine gave me this purple coneflower for my **th birthday. I kept it in its original pot for a couple of months, but it didn’t seem to like it there. It wasn’t growing. Still, it was so small–only two leaves–I worried it wouldn’t survive if I planted it in my garden. Obviously, it hasn’t just grown but has thrived. It loves its new digs.

I was in a hole on that particular birthday – a really deep, dark hole. I’d spent twenty-odd years as a stay-at-home-mom. My son was in college, my daughter in high school, and I desperately needed to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. There was other stuff going on, but at the crux of it all,  I’d stopped growing. Worse, I was afraid of the changes I needed to make to restart that growth.

No, not just afraid. Terrified!

At the half century mark, I was contemplating what I wanted to be when I grew up. I kept coming back to writing. But even as I kept coming back to it, I kept rejecting it—as editors and agents had rejected me when my children were young and I’d taken pen to paper . . . or fingertips to keyboard. I knew how difficult the writing life was. I knew better writers than I who’d been working at it for twenty years and still hadn’t published. I knew the odds of selling were about as good as winning the lottery, and unfortunately, not nearly as lucrative.

Yes, I’m exaggerating the odds part, but that’s what writers do. Because as it turns out, I am a writer. I can’t not write. Letters, emails, opinion pieces, and stories. Every little thing I write, I pour my soul into. So one day two years ago, I made a deal with myself. If I sat down at the computer every day for five days a week and wrote, and if I did this for a whole year, I would acknowledge that I’m a writer. And maybe in a couple of years, I’d start submitting.

Things went fairly smoothly. In six months I had a novel. I entered it in a contest and started the next novel. That’s when the plan went off course and the changes got really scary. Because the editor who judged the contest wanted to publish my novel. Okay, back to terrifying. I didn’t know anything about the business. I’d been writing, not learning about publishers and contracts and marketing. And could I make the revisions the editor wanted? Could I complete another book? The second wasn’t going as smoothly as the first. I even considered not signing the contract. In my braver moments, I told myself that life was supposed to be like this. You challenge yourself. Deep breath. You meet that challenge. Deep breath. You move on to the next one.

Thanks to those deep breaths and some fabulous LERA members, I met those challenges and moved on to the next one. It’s still scary. Some days are great. Others, not so much. But like my coneflower, I’m not just growing. I’m thriving.

 Samantha Ann King’s debut novel, Sharing Hailey, will be released on July 9 by Carina Press. You can connect with Samantha on Facebook and Twitter.


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