The Importance of Family in a Writer's Life

Jan 23, 2014

Something pretty thrilling happened over the weekend-- my book went up on Goodreads! It was one of those flailing-squealing-oh-my-gosh-look-I'm-an-author moments I'm still kind of shocked I get to experience. Then, I clicked a little link on the Goodreads page...and found my book up for pre-order on Amazon. I DIED.

So folks, if you feel so inclined, you can now add THE UNHAPPENING OF GENESIS LEE to your to-read list! Or, you know, pre-order it. ;)

Well, after that blatant self-promotion, I can move on to the rest of the blog post. :)

Right now, I'm sitting in my brand new office with a toddler on my lap, drinking apple cider herbal tea and feeling ridiculously happy. See, it's been a good long while since I've had my own "space." Living in small apartments with two kids doesn't leave much room, so I've been a laptop nomad for years now. My computer rotates around the house all day, and so does my writing space. It was hard for me to focus and get in the writing groove.

So my wonderful family helped me out. We moved the two kids into one bedroom, which they're ridiculously excited about, and made the smallest bedroom my office. You guys, I HAVE SO MUCH SPACE. And it's specifically for me. And it's all full of decorations and pictures and things that inspire me. Already, it's helping me focus, and I'm so happy.

And it's all because of my family.

Sometimes, we focus so much on the writing part of our lives (online, at least) that we forget to mention the people that make it possible. So, here's my mention. My husband has believed in me from day one. Before day one, actually-- he's the one who encouraged me to get back into writing seriously. He's given me encouragement, time, space, and flowers of celebration. He's put up with writerly mood swings and taken days off work so I could go to writing conferences. Basically, he's my knight in shining armor.

My kids don't understand what I'm doing yet. But they have been so flexible and willing to let mommy have her writing time. They've driven me crazy, and also kept me from the edge of crazy. They've reminded me how important and how precious and how incredible real life is. They keep me grounded, humble, and laughing.

I know not everybody has the world's most supportive families. It can be hard to keep doing what you love when you don't have lots of support, and for that, I salute you people. But no matter what, try to take a moment today and be grateful for the people you love. Be grateful to them-- show them or tell them that. Because in the end, when books get the final rejection or go out of print or the reviews all come in at 2 stars, your family will still love you. And that is what matters most.

So, my friends, who is your support network? Have you told your family you love them lately? I'm off to tell mine right now.

This is why all writers are amazing-- whether pubbed, self-pubbed, or un-pubbed

Jan 14, 2014

There are a lot of ups and downs to being a writer. One minute, we're convinced we've written the next Harry Potter, and the next we want to bury the monstrosity we've created in the backyard. We have the thrill of completing a novel, and the struggle of revisions, and the excitement of submission, and the agony of rejection. We have the mind-blowing screaming moment of joy when we finish a book or get an offer of representation or a book deal or release our own book on Amazon, and then we have the crippling panic of writing the next book and being terrified we will never again be able to write something worth reading.

And sometimes we forget. We forget how far we've come. We forget how amazing we are.

My brother-in-law told me something over the holidays that I'll never forget. I'd announced my book deal to family, though I couldn't announce online yet because the contract wasn't final. Amidst all the congratulations and joy, my BIL said (and I paraphrase), "You know, this is so amazing. Nobody stood over you and told you to write every day, or made you keep going through all the rejections. This was all you, working hard and determined to reach your dream. And you did it."

Did you read that, people? Did you see yourself in it? I hope you did.

After he said that, I stood in the kitchen for a moment, dumbfounded and full of pride. Because he's right, and I'd forgotten it.

Did you know that as a teenager, I decided I would never write a novel? My plan was to stick to short stories, because a novel was hard. It was huge. It was impossible. And now, fifteen years later, I had forgotten that there was a time when I deemed something impossible and I had accomplished it. Several times, in fact. Because I worked hard and pushed through hard times and found joy in the good ones.

Four writers, all in different stages of our dreams, all amazing.
Congrats to Sara B. Larson on her book DEFY.
Every writer in the world is the same in a way. Whether pubbed, self-pubbed, or un-pubbed, we are astounding examples of tenacious hard workers, dreamers who are doing the impossible of actually trying to make their dreams come true.

We forget that. We focus on what we haven't yet accomplished-- we don't have an agent, or a book deal, or a number one slot on Amazon. We forget that there was a time when we didn't write. When it was too hard or we were too busy or we just hadn't ever thought about doing something so mind-boggling as attempting to communicate our souls through 300 pages of words.

Try not to forget that. Wherever you are in your pursuit of your dream, you did it yourself with no overlord but your own determination. And that makes you one of the rarest and most amazing people in the world.

So, my friends, what are your dreams? How far have you come? And if you don't mind, can you hop on over to congratulate a writer just like you whose book, THE GATHERING, comes out today? I'm so thrilled for Randy Lindsay!

It's 2014! AKA How to Manage the Busiest Year Ever

Jan 2, 2014

Farewell to 2013, a year that was a fascinating combination of screaming-jumping-dreams-coming-true and crushing-depression-worthy-unexpected-but-turning-out-okay kinds of things. I haven't talked much about the second part here on the blog (or anywhere, for that matter), but I may eventually. Suffice it to say, it was a year of growth and change.
Fireworks! Celebration! Happy 2014!

And now-- it's 2014! There's a whole year ahead that's a blank slate of possibilities, some of which will be good and some bad. For me, it means my book is coming out THIS YEAR. Which fills me with all sorts of squeeing and panic attacks. I'm so thrilled that my publisher wanted to release my book earlier than expected. It's that much sooner that I get to share my story with you all.

But it's also THAT MUCH CLOSER. Which means the typical publishing time schedule I'd expected isn't applying here. Already, we're talking about covers and flap copy on top of things like edits due soon. Already, I've joined the awesome group of Fearless Fifteeners (authors releasing books in 2015-- or late 2014 for me). Already, I'm putting together a marketing plan that loads up my 2014 with all kinds of shenanigans.

I'm facing edits for Unhappening, marketing for Unhappening, and writing a new book all RIGHT NOW. And let's just say my poor hubby had to deal with a frantic, panicky me for far too long last night. But I woke up this morning non-panicky. Know why?

Because these are all the things I wanted, and I get them. And because I have a plan. No New Year's Resolutions for me-- I've got a Plan instead. Here it is:

Splitting my brain apart to try to do everything at once is what induces those lovely frantic moments. So instead, I'm going to focus. At some moments, some things become the obvious priorities. On those hours, or days, or weeks, that's what gets my focus.

In addition, I'm going to focus on the THINGS I CAN CONTROL. Being run through the publishing submission ringer has shown me just how much is out of my control. And nothing I can do will change that, so I'm going to (try) not to worry about it.

This seems like the opposite of the above, but hear me out. In all of my "categories" of things to do (mom-ing, wife-ing, editing, writing, marketing, me-ing), I can do one small thing every day. Write one new sentence. Edit one page. Tweet one person. Play one round of Candyland with my kids. Give my husband one thorough kiss. Sweep the kitchen floor. Sometimes, one of these categories is going to take precedence, and I'll be doing that focus thing a lot more heavily, so this part of the plan is subject to frequent change. But I can still preface a marathon editing session with fifteen minutes of Zumba. I can take a break from scrubbing down a neglected house to write a blog post. There are lots of little spaces in the day, and I can make sure I fill them.

That focus thing? That one-thing-a-day thing? Yeah. Odds are, I'm going to mess those up a bit. So what? Things change, life throws curveballs, I have days where all I want to do is go on a Star Trek:TNG Netflix binge. Bring it on. It doesn't mean I've failed. It means that's life, and I need a break, and I don't have to feel guilty because of it. I give myself permission to let go of the plan occasionally with no guilt, so I can jump back into it with gusto.

So, my friends, what does your 2014 look like? What are your goals or plans or hopes or dreams? More writing or revising? Some querying? Some self-pubbing? Some books on submission? Some real-life things that really matter to you? Do tell!

Shallee McArthur © 2013 | Designed by Bubble Shooter, in collaboration with Reseller Hosting , Forum Jual Beli and Business Solutions