Archive for the ‘On Writing’ Category
Elements of a Good Idea© 2003, 2009, 2011, 2013 Vicki Hinze
(The following is an excerpt from my book, One Way to Write a Novel.)
The elements of a good idea address and answer questions. What do you want to say? Who wants to hear it? How do you plan to say it?
These are all important considerations and questions the writer must answer—hopefully before electing to invest the time and energy in writing the novel.
We can go a long way toward testing an idea before we write if we bear some basic factors in mind. A couple you’ll want on the front burner follow.
Section 1: Elements of a Good Idea
Readers are Armchair Adventurers
- Explore the unfamiliar while remaining safe
- Eager to explore the exotic
- Emotional security
- Exciting and different yet relatable
Readers are armchair adventurers, eager to explore the unfamiliar while remaining safe. Most of us spend our lives mired in the mundane, so when we read, we want to read about something that captures our imaginations, our attention. Something that breaks away from the lives we lead and launches us into a world or atmosphere or situation that we don’t typically experience.
That might be the story of a two-parent family in a small town. To one who hasn’t had that experience but has wondered what it would be like, such a story would be an adventure. Or maybe it’s the story of a spy or a super-hero, or to one who has never experienced love, a forever-after love story. It’s said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Well, in this regard, adventure is, too.
Keeping that in mind–that readers want adventure from the safety of their armchairs where they remain emotionally safe–you can see the advantage of giving them something a little exotic in your book. Almost anything can be exotic. The writer’s approach, investment, makes it so. A novel idea that snags the reader’s interest as well as your own can be exotic.
And let’s dispel a misconception now. We’ve all heard, “Write what you know.” That’s extremely limiting. In the past two plus decades, I’ve discovered it’d be far more indicative of what happens in a writing career to say, “Know what you write.”
I’ve written about terrorists, attacks, murders, human-trafficking, special operations, kidnapping, returning prisoners of war, biological warfare, chemical and nuclear warfare, political thrillers, time travel, reincarnation, paranormal novels set in other times, worlds, and in suspended time. I do not know these things from firsthand experience. I learned a lot about the subjects and theories and the types of people typically involved—learning to know what I wanted to write.
Being familiar with a subject doesn’t automatically translate to creating a salable book, though it can. In knowing what you write, an author can become familiar and enthused. Researching something unfamiliar can be dramatic and exciting and that spurs the intangibles (love and enthusiasm) spoken of earlier—the ones we are foolish to underestimate.
Section 2: Elements of a Good Idea
Good Ideas Have Universal Appeal
- Reader Interest
- Reader Can Relate
- The potent combination of Truth and Lies
The critical point is not familiarity. The critical point is that the subject must hold universal appeal.
Universal appeal equates to a large number of people (the masses) being able to identify with and being interested in reading stories about your ideas.
If you know the intricacies of the subject of your idea and you can write about it with authority, that’s terrific. Readers who know the intricacies of your subject will be captivated, too. But do remember that writing with authority alone isn’t enough.
If what you know is how to be a good insurance salesman or a good used-car dealer, you must understand that not many readers who are not those things will be interested in reading about them. There can be exceptions, of course—there always are in writing—but if the appeal is narrow then so too are the odds of selling. Why? The reasons vary, but bluntly put, readers experience these type careers in real life.
Remember, the armchair adventurer is eager to traipse through the unfamiliar and remain safe. So the good idea gives readers something they’re a little less apt to have personally experienced, something a little exotic.
For example, not many readers experience the danger and intrigue of the Intelligence community, or Air Force Special Operations. The mystique, intrigue and danger associated with these professions appeal to readers. In works about these things, the reader gets to step out of his or her world and into this one. S/he gets to peek behind the veiled curtain and has an opportunity to experience something new, something different and exciting—a touch of the forbidden—and that generates appeal and snags the reader’s interest.
Not many of us know hired hit women. Yet from sales and awards received on Debra Dixon’s Bad to the Bone, we know readers enjoyed reading about one. The same can be said for Secret Prey, James Rollins’ Devil Colony, and James L. Rubart’s The Chair. All these novels enjoyed (and are still enjoying) great sales and reader reception.
If your project is a commercial fiction novel you’re seeking to publish traditionally, then its subject must hold universal appeal. If you’re independently publishing your work, you of course have more latitude to pursue a niche market.
Universal appeal enhances the attractiveness of a novel to an agent or editor—your first reader—to publishers and in the market.
Writers often are told that the idea, or the basic premise, for a novel must be true. This simply isn’t so.
Good Storytelling is a Combination of Truth and Lies
Writers can (and do) lie. They have a license for it!
Please understand that I’m referring to the crafting of a work, not suggesting any writer lie in any other area or on any other aspect in this business. Personal integrity and ethics are extremely important. But in crafting fiction, authors lie all the time. That happens naturally when you create something from nothing to reveal, unearth or expose a universal truth to make sense of it.
We’ve all heard that the truth is stranger than fiction. That cliché became one, as have so many others, because it is true.
In life, people don’t have to have logical, reasonable and sensible motivations to act, and coincidence is readily accepted as a reality of life. But in fiction, none of that is true. In fiction, every action must be solidly and credibly motivated and coincidence is unacceptable.
A lack of solid motivation or incorporating coincidence will net the writer rejection letters containing phrases like convoluted plot line or illogical sequences of events or cardboard characters, which translated means that the characters are not fully developed and well-rounded.
The truth is often boring. The key is to lie and then convince the reader that your lie is the truth. Motivate characters’ actions by foreshadowing coming major events and preparing a solid foundation so that the lie seems not only true but also an inevitable truth.
How do you do that?
By offering specific details, proofs of the truth you want accepted as reality, in the work. If you expect a reader to believe the impossible, then give the reader details to prove the impossible is not only possible but also fact.
An effective way to accomplish this is a three-step process:
Example. If you have a character travel through time, then you need a means for that impossibility to be possible. A charmed amulet, say. Establish that amulet and that it is charmed, and then reinforce it. Once it’s established and reinforced, then it’s ready to perform and the reader is primed to accept the performance. S/he is prepared to suspend disbelief because the writer has prepared the foundation for that suspension.
Section 3: Elements of a Good Idea
Good Ideas Target Specific Readers
- Reader Appeal
- Reader Expectations
- Between-the-Cracks Books
A good idea is one that appeals to your reader.
Years ago, noted editor, agent and author, Alice Orr, suggested that writers imagine they’re sitting around a campfire, telling stories to hostile natives.
I add to that image: Either the writer’s storytelling entertains and enthralls those hostile natives or they’re going to throw the writer into a cauldron of boiling water, heating atop the campfire. Entertain or burn—now that’s incentive to target your readers—and if you think of it as entertain or net a rejection letter, it’s also true.
Readers of specific types of novels have specific expectations. For example, if the novel is a romance, the reader expects that not only will there be a credible romance but the development of the relationship will be the primary focus in the novel. If you write a “romance” that fails to meet that expectation, you’re not going to have satisfied readers. So when you test your idea, slot it into its genre or place on the bookshelf and check to be sure what the reader who goes to that genre or bookshelf to find will be found in your story.
Fail to meet reader expectations at your own peril. If you’re not certain what readers of a specific type of novel expect, nothing will tell you like reading books. Get a good cross-section of them. Bestselling authors, new authors; books published in the past year, in the specific genre and sub-genre. This is where you discover what’s available and where there are gaps you can tailor your story to fill.
I’d been writing romantic suspense for years, but I wanted to write romantic thrillers and thrillers with a romantic element. So the first thing I did was read three hundred thrillers. Three hundred three, actually—all published in the previous year, and all deemed quality reads by their publishers, who had nominated them for the International Thriller Writers’ annual Best Novel of the Year Award.
By the time I finished, I was current on the market, who wrote what, and elements I, as a reader, expected to find in them. I heartily recommend heavy reading as the best foundation for a good education on specific markets, and writing targeting specific readers. Otherwise, you end up with “between the cracks” books: ones that don’t firmly fit on any bookshelf or in any genre, which makes them far more difficult to sell.
Section 4: Elements of a Good Idea
Good Ideas Require Active Characters
- Active Characters
- Admirable Qualities
- Three-Dimensional like People
- Worthy Adversaries
A good novel idea is peopled with active characters.
Strong protagonist characters are admirable, action-oriented, three-dimensional people and not reactive victims. So are strong antagonist characters. We’ll discuss that more in a bit, but I want to emphasize that a weak villain isn’t effective. S/he can’t carry a lot of story weight and that means your protagonist lacks a worthy adversary. Because the villain is weak, your protagonist doesn’t have to excel to best that villain, and that makes for a weaker story overall. You don’t want that.
So make your villains strong, then strengthen him/her some more. That is the best way to make sure your protagonist really shines. S/he has to—to best a worthy villain.
Once, I judged a writing competition where the protagonist carried so much emotional baggage—a consequence of struggling through a horrendous life—that I considered it a miracle she hadn’t committed suicide. The flaw wasn’t in the struggle. The flaw was that the woman’s life had been all bad.
A strong protagonist capable of carrying the weight of a novel is balanced. S/he has a life that is bad and good—like ours so that we can relate and bond with him/her.
By having a life that is either all good or all bad, you reduce the protagonist to the likes of Perilous Pauline, who spent her days tied to the train tracks, waiting to be rescued. This type of protagonist can’t struggle much, or enjoy much success in the novel. Her skills and abilities are limited and that means what she can actually do in the novel is limited.
Readers, who live normal lives of good and bad can’t relate well to Perilous Pauline types and they tend to frustrate readers. A protagonist worthy of your story is one who faces obstacles with courage and dignity, who fights the fights that need fighting—even when s/he risks everything (the higher the personal stakes, the better)—and fails and succeeds along the way, eventually failing and succeeding his or her way through to the end of the story.
In the end, s/he doesn’t have to win, but s/he had better change and be different—wiser, stronger, more something than s/he was at the beginning of the story. Otherwise, the reader finishes the book and wonders why s/he bothered to make the journey. That change is the payoff to the reader: the reason s/he made the journey with the character, and the reward should be worth the reader’s investment.
Another example of a novel that missed the mark was an entry for a romance novel. In it, the writer had crafted a seventeen-year-old heroine who was a drug addict involved with a thug. She skipped school, got drunk on beer, and destroyed her loving foster mother’s home while spouting enough four-letter expletives to make a porn king blush and yearn to wash out the protagonist’s mouth with soap. These are not the traits of an admirable romance novel heroine. And it was obvious that the writer had not researched the genre or the writer would have known it.
Not only was the proposed heroine underage, she wasn’t admirable. That translates to no sale.
A solid clue that the novel idea is a good one is that the character’s goals can be clearly defined. That’s very important to the course of the novel but also to the reader payoff just discussed. So let’s delve into that a bit to be sure you have a firm grip on why clearly defined goals are essential.
Section 5: Elements of a Good Idea
Good Ideas Have Clearly Defined Goals
- Goals, Motivations and Conflicts
- Changing Objectives
- Steep Consequences
When goals are clearly defined, the reader knows exactly what the characters want. This holds true for main and secondary characters.
Readers care most when they know what a character wants, why they want it, who is trying to stop them from getting it, and what the character will lose if they fail to attain those goals.
In other words, a character’s goals, motivations and conflicts are clear to the reader. Just as is true with people in real life, the odds of characters getting what they want or need are slim if they don’t know what they want or need. They must define success so that the reader understands the objective and can cheer, mourn, fret and invest in the journey.
During the course of the novel, the character’s goals or objectives might change. If they do, that change should be as the result of his/her novel experiences. Something happens to change the character’s course. Some event, some new insight or knowledge is gained and it forces the change. There should be a reason for the character’s goals to change and the reader should have a clear understanding of those reasons. If s/he doesn’t, you’ll lose the reader and his/her investment in the journey.
So be sure that the character’s objectives are clear, motivated, and specific to that character. The end of the journey matters. It’s significant and important, and if the protagonist fails, the consequences should be steep to that character and/or to others who matter greatly to him or her.
What the consequences are, and whether or not they are significant depends on the type of story you’re telling. So let’s take a look at that in the next section on slotting your ideas.
Section 6: Elements of a Good Idea
Good Ideas are Slotted
- Genre or Mainstream
- Readers’ Buying Habits
- Defined Marketing Niche
- Intent to Entertain
Consciously decide whether you are going to write a genre or a mainstream novel.
While whether a novel is genre or mainstream doesn’t determine its veracity as a novel, and one is no better or worse than the other, they are different and your decision on what type of book yours will be can impact your ability to sell the book.
Think about your story. Where do readers who buy this type book look for it in a bookstore? That is a criterion that editors use to determine how to publish the book. Whether the readers look for it in general fiction or in, say, the mystery section. Whether the readers the publisher has identified as buyers for the type of book buy in hard cover or in paperback. And if in paperback, whether they buy in trade format or in mass market.
Many authors believe that the format—hard cover, trade or mass market—speaks to the quality of the book. Honestly, it speaks to the readers’ buying habits for that type of book.
It is the readers’ buying habits that is the greatest determining factor in these type decisions. And there are distinct selling advantages in writing with them in mind. The more easily an editor homes in on marketability when reading your manuscript, the greater the odds that you’ll see it become a published book.
To the new writer seeking publication, writing in an established genre is far more favorable than writing a mainstream novel. The reason is simple: money.
Taking a chance on publishing a new writer requires a huge investment on the part of the publisher because the writer doesn’t yet have an established reader base to help sell the novel in the marketplace.
If the book fits within a defined marketing niche, then the publisher greatly increases odd the book will sell well. It’s been proven repeatedly that it’s very easy for a new writer to get lost on the mainstream bookshelf. Every possible tip to help the readers who would love this specific type of book needs to be used to help the reader find the book.
Writing a genre book attracts readers who prefer that type of novel. Whether romance, thriller, science fiction, fantasy, horror, suspense or mystery, readers know what to expect and where to go to look for it. Booksellers know where to shelve the book so that potential buyers can find it. And more critical, wholesalers know where to put the book so that it’s shelved with other books like it. Remember, often in the wholesale markets, stockers and not readers or those who love books are physically take the books out of the shipping boxes and placing them on the shelves.
Understand, too, that even within a specific genre, every publisher has preferences. So not only should a writer read copiously within the chosen genre, she should also read publishers lists (a selection of books within a single targeted genre) to determine what specific genre preferences each publisher has for her type book.
Don’t mistakenly believe that if you look at the publisher’s guidelines, you’ll know exactly what the publisher wants; you won’t. You’ll have a general sense of what the editors are looking to buy, but nothing conveys the nuances-which can be considerable and crucial-to the writer and informs as well as reading the books published.
Genre or mainstream, a novel’s intent is to entertain. A writer can never forget that or minimize its importance. More often than not, the means used to entertain the reader is through emotional engagement. Getting the reader invested in the outcome of the novel. That makes testing your idea for these things is wise. Ask yourself:
Will this story idea entertain readers?
Will this story idea make people care?
Will the characters create reader empathy?
Put your novel idea to the test.
If it proves universal in appeal, marketable, engaging and you feel genuine enthusiasm for it, then it’s time to take a look at the novel focus.
© 2003, 2009, 2011, 2013 Vicki Hinze
Part 6 of the Social In Network series, recorded here for the On Writing Library.
Inspire Me! Part 6: Coping With Distractions
Regardless of your specific career, we’re all bombarded daily with distractions. We don’t need lectures on adult discipline, we need coping tools, and that’s the topic in this informal chat video . . .
If you’ve fallen victim to distractions and overcome them in a constructive way, feel free to share how you did it in the comments section! Sharing your insights could prevent others from having to step in that same mud-puddle!
ICYMI (In case you missed it)
The previous installments in the Inspire Me! Series:
Part 1: When You Get Knocked Down (video)
Part 4: Things Writers Should Ignore (video)
Vicki Hinze is the award-winning bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest releases are: Torn Loyalties (romantic suspense), Duplicity (mystery/thriller), Maybe This Time (paranormal romance), One Way to Write a Novel (nonfiction). She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s website: Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. www.vickihinze.com
The Part 5 segment of the Inspire Me! series: Practical Experience with Author and Speaker, Kathi Macias, posted on the Social In Network. Adding it to the On Writing Library here.
Inspire Me! Series Part #5: Sorting Through the Advice
Practical Experience on Things Writers Should Ignore with
Author and Speaker, Kathi Macias
Continuing with the Inspire Me series, we’ve finished the fourth installment, the second video: Things Writers Should Ignore. (If you missed it, you can view it here.)
Theory is great, but it can’t hold a candle to hearing from someone with practical experience on our subject. So I’ve recruited author and speaker, Kathi Macias, to share her personal practical experience on sorting through an avalanche of advice.
Let me tell you a bit about Kathi, so you know the caliber of woman speaking to you.
She’s a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, she has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences. She won the 2008 Member of the Year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) and was the 2011 Author of the Year from BooksandAuthors.net. Her novel set in China, Red Ink, was named Golden Scrolls’ 2011 Novel of the Year and was also a Carol Award Finalist; her October 2012 release, Unexpected Christmas Hero, was named 2012 Book of the Year by BookandAuthors.net. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband.
As you can see, Kathi isn’t a rookie, and in a career spanning over thirty years, she’s run into a lot of situations and both received and given a lot of advice. Kathi reviewed the Inspire Me! articles (listed below) and adds this on sorting through the advice:
From Kathi Macias:
There’s an old Hebrew proverb that goes something like this. If you’re walking down the street and someone comes up to you and calls you a jackass, ignore them. If an entire crowd of people come along and call you a jackass, maybe it’s time to buy a saddle.
Successfully sorting through the many streams of advice and opinions that come our way can be a lot like that. So much of the advice we receive, in life generally and in writing specifically, is subjective, simply because it is based on opinion. For instance, I occasionally go to Amazon to read the reviews posted about my books. Ninety percent of them are quite favorable, but occasionally I spot one that flies in the face of what everyone else has said. One of my most recent releases, The Moses Quilt, is a blending of a contemporary romance with a historical background.
The vast majority of reviewers stated that they loved the historical aspect and believed it strengthened the story. One reviewer, however, gave the book a low rating because she said she didn’t care for the historical aspect and thought it detracted from the story.
Interesting—and confirmation that opinions are often subjective. Because opinions drive advice, it is therefore vital that we find an effective way of sorting through all the advice that comes our way before making a decision to heed it. Is the advice to turn left coming from one or two individuals, while the balance of the crowd is saying to turn right?
Of course, there are occasions when even the crowd can be wrong, and we have to make the choice to heed the advice of one or two trusted and knowledgeable individuals instead of following the more popular idea. I found that to be true when it came to pursuing my personal passion to write issues-related fiction from a Christian worldview.
When I first came into the publishing industry, way back in the Dark Ages (early 1980s, actually), it scarcely resembled what it has become today. We authors—unless we were household-name celebrities—didn’t have agents or publicists, and we certainly didn’t have to be involved in marketing our own books. We simply wrote the manuscript, turned it in, did editing/corrections if/when they came from the publisher, and went out on a book-signing or two if the publisher set it up. That was the end of it—except, of course, waiting anxiously for a royalty check (which sometimes came, sometimes didn’t).
That transition required me to listen to the advice of those in the industry who saw the change coming. Trusted colleagues told me I needed to establish a web presence. Seriously? I didn’t even know what a blog was! But I heeded their advice and got on-board with as great an Internet presence as possible. I also ended up with an agent and a publicist, both of whom have been huge helps in growing my career. And finally, I caved in to the need to develop a speaking platform. Now I belong to two speakers’ bureaus, both of which have helped me tremendously to expand my name recognition and, consequently, sell more books.
However, when it came to my ongoing desire to write issues-related fiction from a Christian perspective, I refused to heed the voice of the “crowd”—those who said there was no room for such “heavy” writing in the Christian publishing world. I just couldn’t believe that the passion that burned inside me to write such books should be squelched or denied. And so I persisted, though my pile of rejection slips continued to grow. At last I found a publisher who shared that passion. Though they had never published fiction of any kind before, they were willing to partner with me to take a chance and launch what we together termed “fiction with a mission.” As a result, we’ve now put out a dozen novels with social justice themes, and I have become known (much to my amazement!) as a modern-day “freedom fighter.”
And you know what? I consider it a great honor. I am grateful that in the midst of so many voices crying out to turn right instead of left, I listened to that quiet voice inside that said, “Turn left. Follow your passion.” Now, each time I receive a note from someone, saying how one of my books has inspired them to get involved in fighting human trafficking or writing letters to try to help free religious prisoners and prisoners of conscience, I know I have made the right choice.
Many thanks to Kathi for sharing her practical experience with us.
Note that Kathi had skills (writing) and had to acquire skills (web, blog, public speaking), but she had the ability to acquire those skills. That’s significant.
As discussed in the second video, we are often called upon to do things we want to do and ones we really don’t want to do or know how to do. Few writers like spending so much time blogging, speaking, and doing other non-writing tasks that are necessary in today’s writing career. But they do them, and the wise ones work diligently to become good at them. They consider these efforts part of the “writing package.”
Another significant thing to note is that Kathi received advice to stay away from issue-driven stories and was encouraged to write other types of stories. For writers, rejection letters can be potent advice. But Kathi heeded the voice inside telling her to stick with fiction with a mission. That’s purpose-writing, and it is purpose-writing that harvests a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment in the writer.
Sometimes it’s hard to say no. When you’re eager to publish and you’re being encouraged to write something other than what you want to (or feel driven to) write, you’re tempted to just do it. There are times when that decision will prove wise. And times when it proves to be nothing more than a distraction that keeps you from writing the work you’re meant to write. Knowing which is which—wise or distraction—is where that little voice inside comes in handy. While we might have trouble distinguishing between the two, the little voice seldom does, which proves that:
While we should listen to what others have to say, we should ultimately make our own decisions. Others, unfortunately, can’t hear our little voice. We can and do—unless we allow ourselves to have our attention diverted by distractions. Which is why distractions will be the topic in our next installment of the Inspire Me! series.
The previous installments in the Inspire Me! Series:
Part 1: When You Get Knocked Down (video)
Part 4: Things Writers Should Ignore (video)
Part 5: Practical Experience with Author/Speaker, Kathi Macias
Vicki Hinze is the award-winning bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest releases are: Torn Loyalties (romantic suspense), Duplicity (mystery/thriller), Maybe This Time (paranormal romance), One Way to Write a Novel (nonfiction). She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s website:Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. www.vickihinze.com
Continuing with the Inspire Me! series. This was my Social-In network article published yesterday. Including it in the On Writing library here. A note: while this series is created for writers, the concepts in it are universal.
THINGS WRITERS SHOULD IGNORE
INSPIRE ME Series #4
This is the fourth article in the Inspire Me! series. The topic shifts to things writers should ignore, and this video specifically focuses on doing what you feel driven to do versus what others–bosses, agents, editors, publishers, peers–think you should do regarding the direction of your work and/or career.
No one seems exempt from these types of challenges. So next column, we’ll gain some practical experience insight on this topic from the award-winning author, Kathi Macias.
Remember, you can only be led where you willingly choose to follow!
Vicki Hinze is the award-winning bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest releases are: Torn Loyalties (romantic suspense), Duplicity (mystery/thriller), Maybe This Time (paranormal romance), One Way to Write a Novel (nonfiction). She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s website:Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. www.vickihinze.com
Note: This is a continuing series I’m publishing on the Social-In Network. Part 1, a video on Getting Knocked Down, was followed by a Practical Experience article with Maureen Lang. This is the 3rd post in the series: a Practical Experience accounting where Fred St. Laurent shared his insights as one whose life created a need to start over taking a new direction in writing-related fields. I’m adding this to the On Writing Library here so it’s easily available for everyone. If you missed the earlier articles/video, you can find them here:
1. Part 1: Inspire Me! series video.
2. Part 2: Practical Experience (relating to Part 1) with Author Maureen Lang.
3. Part 3: Practical Experience (relating to Part 1) with COO Fred St. Laurent.
Standing Back Up
Practical Experience 2 Companion to
Inspire Me Part 1:
We started with a video on When You Get Knocked Down. We followed that with practical experience from author Maureen Lang on persistence and how it opens new doors of opportunity. Today, we continue with practical experience from Fred St. Laurent, the COO of Book Fun Organization, who shares his practical experience at Standing Back Up.
What we’ve gotten so far is the certainty that we all get knocked down and it’s proof we were standing–it’s not just us. It’s everyone at some time in their lives, and the proof we were standing and are therefore capable of standing is a good thing. It assures us that we’ve done it. If we did it once, we can do it again, and that persistence opens doors of new opportunities to us. Valuable insights all, but none of which tell us how to stand back up. And that’s what we need to know—how to make it happen. We need practical help figuring it out, and there’s nothing more practical than speaking to someone who’s done it.
So I went hunting and found Fred St. Laurent. He was knocked down in the financial crisis and is now standing tall in a whole new field. Fred didn’t want to get knocked down or to start over. Like so many of us, the need was thrust on him. But his attitude toward it and reaction to it has made his transition extremely successful. I’ve talked at length with Fred about that transition. Interestingly enough, he first got involved in his new career as a way to help his wife. That outreach has resulted in an organization, Book Fun, the Book Fun Magazine, and a network that brings writers, publishers, readers and book clubs together in a safe, family friendly environment. Very successful transition. So let’s get some insights on the details of it through some questions to Fred and his answers.
Vicki: What is the Book Club Network organization and your position in it?
Fred: http://www.bookfun.org is a network of Reading Groups from around the world. We have thousands of members; moms and grandmothers; some are teens; many men have joined. The common denominator is that we all love good books. Our focus is Family Friendly, although there is a club here called “Edgy Christian Fiction,” for the most part we promote reading material and movies that are safe for the family. It seems that our members belong to, lead or want to lead a book club. Many are just seeking a place to find new authors and their books. Others are looking for fellowship, inspiration and ideas to bring back to their groups.
(Note: Fred went from ground zero to his current position in roughly five years. That’s not a long time, and if it sounds like one, stop and think of where you were five years ago. The five years are coming regardless of what you do. The question to ask yourself is how you’re going to spend them. As you have been? More constructively?)
I am the COO of the Corporation. After 25 years of recruiting on Wall Street and writing for different venues (I have articles picked up by Forbes) I stepped into this opportunity and love it. I am also the Editing Manager for www.bookfunmagazine.com .
(Note: He loves it. Remember that your enthusiasm carries over into your work. If you don’t love it, change it until you do. Nothing can substitute for your personal investment (emotional, physical, and spiritual) in the way you spend the lion’s share of your life. Important to imprint on your mind and heart: You aren’t just building a career, you’re building a life!)
Vicki: What are the components of Book Fun and who benefits?
Fred: The Book Fun site is where readers from around the world can connect with each other and get honest opinions of books and movies as well as ideas about how to start or run reading groups. It is also a place where authors and publishers can present their books and products directly to consumers. We have thousands of readers who are actively involved in discussions every day.
The Magazine came about as a way to provide articles and videos to a larger venue. Not everyone wanted to be involved in the groups but still wanted to stay in touch with what we were doing. The last issue was 150 pages, and is brimming with awesome content, videos and interviews. We are very different than anything I have seen because of our focus. Our readers tell us what they want and we do all we can to provide it. There is also a list of more than 200 Family Friendly Blogs that they can visit. It has become a well-used resource for readers looking for safe places to find more information. Our readers love to READ.
Vicki: Exactly how did all of this get started?
Fred: My wife Nora was asked about running a reading group by a friend of hers. She was working in a retail book store and it made sense. Her group began meeting at another book store. Her boss saw the potential for his store and invited her to hold it there. It grew to over 100 members. I was meeting authors through her club and began looking for a way to help support what she was doing.
This was small group ministry in my mind, and I started to see this as a “back door” to the church, in that Nora was creating a safe place for her ladies to come and share about issues that these books brought up. People, who would not come to a church on Sunday, felt comfortable coming to the groups she facilitated. She called it Finding Hope Through Fiction. She knew that Hope was a person. It made me think that there were other people out there like Nora and so we set up an online network, and I went out and found that there were many other groups out there looking to connect. The Book Club Network was born.
(Note: Isn’t it interesting that Fred didn’t see this as a new venue for himself but as a way to help his wife. Yet by helping her, he helped himself. And he and his wife see Hope as a person. We know it’s all but impossible to motivate ourselves without hope or the promise of fulfillment of our aspirations. There’s a lesson in that for us all.)
Vicki: What is your mission and goal for the organization?
Fred: Interesting question. Our slogan is “Where Book Fun Begins” and if you look at our vision on the site you will see: “We facilitate this network where people feel safe, have fun, share hearts and embrace, Finding Hope through fellowship in reading groups.”
Even deeper than this is our desire to provide Family Safe options in reading and movies in a world where so many of us have to tape television shows to avoid commercials of shows we would never watch. Entertainment these days, on many fronts, seems to have to increase the shock level as viewer’s hearts become harder. We want to try to provide options to families and reading groups that are safe. We also want to encourage people to meet face to face again. So many people are locked away from others. We are encouraging them to get involved in social media the old-fashioned way. Reading groups are a great way to fellowship and make new friends in the community.
(Note that Fred has a very clear vision not only of what he is doing but what he desires to do and why. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but money is never enough. There has to be a deeper purpose for doing what we do, regardless of what it is. Fred has a vision infused with purpose. That’s a strong motivator to keep going in tough times, to do whatever needs doing, and to not settle but strive to give your best. Those are key ingredients in success soup!)
Vicki: What opportunities are there for authors regarding their books?
Fred: Authors are told to “build a platform” and many new authors seem to solicit other authors. The issue becomes one of many clusters of the same people following blogs and Face Book pages. Over the last five years we have been blessed with an active following of readers and we offer this networking opportunity to Family Friendly authors free of charge. Of course they have to work at building a following there too, but here there are thousands of readers in one place for authors to do so. There is a learning curve, as with anything else, but anyone with relational marketing skills can build a platform here.
(Note the gem in this. Are you building your author platform with authors or readers? While authors are also readers, it is wise advice to expand your horizons and network with lovers of books. The advice is to build relationships and in doing so you build a platform. That’s a treasure of a tip!)
Vicki: What are the top things you’d most like to share about the organization?
Fred: First of all we do try to earn a living from the efforts we put into this over the last five years. We do that by promoting authors and with sponsors like Bethany House, Revell and Elk Lake Publishing. It all comes down to who does the work. If the author or publisher invests the time and energy in building a following in the network, this is free. If they want us to do the work, we charge for it.
Second, we sell advertising in Book Fun Magazine. Most ads are bought by publishers and authors right now, but we are seeking advertisers who see our followers as potential customers for their products outside of the publishing industry. We encourage anyone to look up www.bookfun.org on www.alexa.com. They will find that we are listed as number 155,000 out of over 300 million websites globally and number 49,000 out of all the websites in the US. Our demographics are center of the target for most advertisers and we have many strong, positive reviews from members who love us. In short we are an awesome venue for anyone who wants to offer their products to our audience and at a fraction of the cost of other venues. (At least for now anyway).
(Note that Fred has set goals, specific goals. He isn’t drifting, he’s focused and he’s mindful of his standing in what he’s doing. Alexa rates sites and allows for comparative analysis. That’s important because none of us dwell in a vacuum but in a community with competition. So knowing where we are is imperative to planning our journey to where we want to go. Having specific goals, some say dreams and visions, is also imperative to developing a plan to achieve them. Bottom line: get informed, dream specific and develop a plan to make the dream a reality.)
Vicki: How can writers get involved?
Fred: Writers, publishers and others can contact me for more information on how to get involved. I will be more than happy to offer a tour and suggestions for free or paid options. My contact information is in Book Fun Magazine.
(Note the options–free or paid. I think this is also a key factor in Fred’s explosive growth and successful transition. His welcome sign is hung and the door is open.)
So what can we take away from this practical experience transitioning that Fred has shared with us?
The inciting incident necessitating a transition was the result of circumstances outside Fred’s control. There wasn’t any one person to blame. Fred didn’t waste time or energy on assigning blame but accepted the reality of his situation and instead looked ahead. He retained a positive attitude and looked outside his normal sphere (his comfort zone) to a place he could apply his skills and talents to help another. The result? A successful new organization that embraces the values and family-safe environment he (and many others) value. A place that embraces that which matters most to him, his spouse, his family and the thousands who visit Book Fun daily.
The takeaways are many, including: When life knocks you down, you were standing up—and you can stand again. Fred St. Laurent’s practical experience proves it. And if Fred can do it, so can you!
Vicki Hinze is the award-winning bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest releases are: Torn Loyalties (inspirational romantic suspense), Duplicity (romantic thriller), Maybe This Time (paranormal romance), One Way to Write a Novel (nonfiction). She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s website:Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. www.vickihinze.com Newsletter.
Part 1: When You Get Knocked Down
Life is a series of hills and valleys. Sometimes we’re up, sometimes we’re down. And sometimes when we’re down, we’re not sure exactly how we got down or how to get up. This is true for everyone, and writers are no exception.
So since the new year’s resolutions are waning and spring is upon us, tempting us to shrug off discipline and determination, we need a little inspiration to keep us on track, or to get us on track–and to minimize the negative influences in our lives. We need a strong shot of perspective.
So today we begin a series, Inspire Me! And my hope is that it will.
Here’s part 1: When you get Knocked Down.
Vicki Hinze is the award-winning bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest releases are: Torn Loyalties (romantic suspense), Duplicity (mystery/thriller), Maybe This Time (paranormal romance), One Way to Write a Novel (nonfiction). She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s website:Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. www.vickihinze.com.
Q. I’ve been reading your blog posts for a while and I’ve gone back and looked at early ones. Many focus on helping others. How does spending so much time doing that instead of writing more books affect your career?
A. Frankly, I’m not sure. I could write more if I reached out to others less. That’s always been the case, and as it becomes more difficult to earn a living writing, there’s every logical reason to do so—focus more on writing and producing more books instead of mentoring and helping others. It isn’t that I’m unaware of the costs. Believe me, I am. But I’m not just building a career, I’m building a life. To be of value to me, my life must have purpose, and my purpose is to help the broken heal.
I try to do that in my books and articles, but I also try to do it through helping writers. That’s been a big part of what I’m about and the life I’ve chosen to build since I began writing. It stemmed, in part, from not knowing other writers early on. I spent so much time frustrated over the most basic things because I had no one to ask, and I promised myself if I ever learned anything about the craft and/or business of writing, I’d share what I learned. I’ve tried to do that and I’ve trusted that my personal needs would be met.
Over the years, that decision has made for some belt-squeezing times and some where I’ve had to take leaps of faith that everything would work out, but it always has. When agents suggested that I stop “helping” and write more to elevate myself, I’ve changed agents. While they were wonderful and very good at what they do, we didn’t have a merging of the minds on my purpose.
I’m not driven by money. It doesn’t define my success. Worth to me is more about caring, nurturing, helping others see their own potential and to assist them in seeing the best in themselves and their purpose. Honestly, that’s been a blessing and a curse and it’s made for some scary times. But during those times, you just keep working in faith and trust that things will work out.
The world looks at you and your work and sees less. That creates some challenges and disappointments, but they’re not as significant on the grand scale of things. Admittedly, times have changed in publishing and that too has created new challenges. Today, more so than ever before, it’s a bottom-line market. Publisher fiscal health depends on that, and the business side of me (I was in corporate for years before writing) understands that. So these days require bigger leaps of faith. And, being brutally honest and blunt, I will write until I can’t afford to write anymore. And I’ll continue to help others in ways I can until I can’t. It’s my purpose.
You know, it’s easy to do the hard things when times are great and everything is going your way. But when it’s not, it’s harder, and yet that’s when you define your destiny. Like everyone else, I’m standing to meet my destiny. Sometimes on rubber knees, but I’m standing.
Q. I read your Lost, Inc. books and enjoyed them. Are you going to write more books in that series?
I’ve been asked this a lot in the last month or so, but I can’t honestly answer that question at this time. I’d like to—I love the premise of people helping others who are lost find their way in life—and I certainly could write more of the Lost, Inc. books. The decision is currently pending. The publisher would like more of them, but I’m waiting to see how they are received in the market before making that call.
If readers embrace the books and want more of them, they’ll let me know. Now that the third book in that series, Torn Loyalties, is out, the answer won’t be far off. So far, the reaction has been good. Reader feedback has been positive and the book, like the previous two in the series, has been on multiple Amazon bestseller lists. So early signs are good. I just need to give this third book a little more time to let the reaction filter back to me and then I’ll know if more Lost, Inc. books should be done.
This is another situation where the business side of me says, “Definitely do it,” but the purpose side of me says, “Give it a bit to determine if it’s best.” Here’s the conflict: Any one writer can only write so many books. Time’s a hard taskmaster that way. So it’s really important to write the right books to do what you’re trying to do in writing at all.
I’m eager to write case stories in that series. I think those would be fascinating and fun to write. So I’m hopeful and indications are good, but I can’t say for sure right this minute. Another month or two of data and feedback and I’ll know. When I do know, I’ll share it in the newsletter.
Q. I’ve been writing ten years and always earned a living. But it’s hard now and I’m torn between writing and doing something else where my income is stable and I have benefits. Am I the only writer with this problem? Is it me or just the way things are now?
It isn’t just you. (See the first question above. ) Listen, I’ve written full-time since 1988. I sold the first book in 1992 and then nothing for two years. Since then, I’ve been publishing. There have been times in between when I had a year between contracts (I had a lot of eye surgeries in a short span of time that totally derailed momentum writing) and I faced the choice you’re facing. Should I return to corporate or stick with writing?
The truth is I can’t answer that question for you. Only you know what one needs to know to make that call. I did answer it for me, and I’ll share that for what it’s worth.
I did a lot of soul-searching and discovered my bottom line: I’d never be content not writing. There wouldn’t be a day that I wouldn’t miss it or a day when I’d know I turned my back on what I was supposed to be doing with my life.
It took a while to reach that bottom line, and it wasn’t a pleasant process. But it was an essential one and it did quell the questioning. There are no benefits and for most writers the money isn’t great. There are some for whom it’s fabulous and whether or not you’ll be one of those or one who struggles, well, you never know. Good writers land in both camps, and so do not-so-good writers. Readers make that call, and all writers can do is write their stories the best they can and pray. A lot.
This is going to sound harsh, but here it is—without any veneer or varnish to soften it:
If you can quit writing, quit. Get a job with stable pay and good benefits. If your heart isn’t in it, you’re better off to find a place your heart is. You’ll be more content there.
If you love writing, you won’t be able to quit. You’ll think on it and get to the place where you realize odds are stacked against you, you’ll work for an unknown amount of money with no benefits and absolutely no assurances (even signed contracts get cancelled) but a bad day or month or year writing is better than a good day doing anything else. You’ll take a part-time job doing what you must, if you must, to meet your fiscal needs, but you’ll write anyway. Because you need to write and want to write and the idea of not writing makes you physically ill.
That’s the best I do for you on this. It’s a personal call. There’s no right or wrong answer, only the right answer for you, and only you can make the decision.
I wish I could tell you that if you work hard and do your best, you’ll be fine. But I honestly can’t do that because sometimes it is fine and sometimes it isn’t. I know many writers who had successful careers suddenly tank and they were forced by circumstance to walk away. I also know many writers who had tanked careers and started over at the bottom of the ladder and zoomed to the top. Again, there’s no way of predicting which any one writer will be. You can do everything right and not reach fiscal stability. You can do everything wrong and stick to it like it was surgically applied. Writers can’t predict it, agents can’t predict it, publishers can’t predict it, booksellers can’t predict it. An author or project can look golden and tank. Or look like a midlist or low-income book and hit the stratosphere in sales. You write your book and take your chances. It’s that way on every book.
Whatever you decide, I wish you joy and contentment and peace with your decision. Spend some time with yourself and do your version of soul-searching. What most matters to you? Why? What do you need (versus want) and what must you do to get it? Ask yourself the hard, uncomfortable questions and answer them honestly. By the time you’re done, you’ll know what’s right for you.
Thanks so much for your questions. It’s a joy to hear from you. If I may, I’d like to thank you for the many notes you’ve written with comments and offering support and prayers for me (especially during the recent illness). I so appreciate being a part of your lives, and I’m grateful for your concern about me.
The saying goes that into every life rain must fall. We all have ups and downs, that’s true, but right now, many of us are suffering a deluge. So how is that some are making it through the tough times on their feet and some are nose-down and flat-out prone?
I can’t answer for everyone of course, but I’ve had my fair share of tough times–personally and professionally–and I have learned a few tips that might be helpful. Most, I’ve learned the hard way, by trudging through what seemed the depths of hell until a light bulb finally went on and I discovered I wasn’t going to get a thing but more of the same on the path I’d been taking. Change was necessary to effect a better outcome.
And that’s the first tip.
Tip #1: If what you’re doing isn’t working, do something else.
I remember back when I started writing, my husband was away. He’d been transferred to a new base five months earlier. I’d stayed behind to sell the house, get the kids through the end of the school year and do all a move across country entails. That’s when I began writing in earnest. I’d flirted with writing before, but when I started then, I never stopped.
Anyway, I was a bit upset about the move. For years, every time I’d work my way up the corporate chain and I’d get to a good slot, we’d move and I’d have to start over again. So my professional life was move, build, get there, move, build–you get the picture. I’d done it several times and I was definitely heart weary at starting over on the bottom ladder rung yet again.
I decided I’d had enough, this cycle wasn’t working for me, and to get a different outcome I had to do something different. I wrote a book.
It didn’t sell, but that’s incidental. I learned a lesson. And it was to change something. The first thing I noted was that I wasn’t as resentful of the move. That I loved writing. That I wasn’t heart weary anymore. Instead I was excited. Writing and moving was a new adventure–and I couldn’t wait to see where both led.
So if you’re heart weary, change something to get a better outcome. Even if your book doesn’t sell (or your change isn’t totally successful), your heart will soar, and you will move closer to whatever you’ve identified as your new direction. We all cope better with what we must when we’re sporting a soaring heart and moving in a direction we want to go versus one we’re forced to journey.
Tip #2: Looking only at the problem nets no solution.
If you spend five years hashing and rehashing a problem, you’re going to be heart weary–and you’re going to stay heart weary. Answers to challenges do not dwell in focusing only on the problem. You focus to identify, to gain a clear understanding, but then you must shift focus and do something—act to solve any issue.
When you are heart weary, look at the problem, grasp it, understand it, and then shift all your focus to seeking solutions. Solutions hold promise. Solutions hold the potential to solve the problem. Solutions lift the heart. Looking at a problem alone never fixed the first one. Get stuck looking, and that’s a lot of wasted energy dragging your heart through the proverbial sludge and not offering it a whisper of a chance of making anything better.
So if a problem, regardless of its type, has you heart weary, look at it, then focus on a constructive solution. Look for multiple solutions to determine the best option for you. The minute you make the shift from problem to potential solutions, your heart starts to lighten. You’re doing something constructive about what has you heart weary and see possibilities that can make your life, or someone else’s better. Both are potent at healing a weary heart.
Tip #3: Forget blame. Focus ahead.
When our heart is weary, we want someone else–anyone else–to blame. We think it will make us feel better if we can finagle ourselves absolution.
It doesn’t. If we’re successful, then we’re heart weary at the outcome of the situation and resentful that we’re in it because it’s someone else’s fault–we take on all the problems that come with having a victim mentality, and there are lots of of them. There’s a better, healthier, less heart-taxing route than blame to take.
In short, stuff happens.
In short, we cause some of it.
In short, others cause some of it.
The point is, it doesn’t matter who caused it, it is. We have to deal with what is–and pointing fingers or whining or complaining that it’s not our fault accomplishes nothing on bettering our situation.
When it comes to being heart weary, we have to choose not to embrace that victim mentality. It might get us a short-term pass on something. It might get us a little sympathy when we feel we need it. But it lacks the ability to manifest a better situation. If we want to wallow in self-pity and play the victim (even when we are the victim), some will support us. But that wears thin quickly. How much better off we are to accept what we can’t change and look ahead. How can we get from where we are to where we want to be? What attitudes and outlooks can we have that will help us take the next step?
Focusing ahead, we are using our resources–our energy, time and our support system–in a constructive way that can change our circumstance. Focusing ahead can make a difference. Blame, even if it’s deserved, can’t do that. So let go of it. It’s weighing down your heart, making it weary.
You know, there’s a reason car windshields are huge and rearview mirrors are small. The past is where we’ve been. The future is where we’re going. Forget blame, start where you are, and look forward to creating the future you most desire.
Tip #4: Anger is a heavy burden for the heart to carry. Let go of it.
These days, we’re used to instant gratification on many things. So used to it that waiting a minute for water to boil seems like a lifetime. Waiting fifteen seconds for a page to load on the computer seems “really slow.” We get impatient, and when we do, we often react in anger.
We get angry a lot. Sharp words are shouted where in another time civility would have ruled wisest and we’d have held our tongues (and not later regretted what we said in anger).
A few days ago, I heard a news story where on a flight a grown man slapped a crying toddler and hurled nasty remarks, which when challenged by the mother, the man repeated. Slapping a toddler. That’s not only uncivil, but anger run amok and a grown man totally out of control. His behavior sickens most of us and it should sicken us. We all know why. On flights, ears pop and that frightens and hurts some babies and small children. It hurts some adults. We understand the frustration of a crying child, but we also understand the pain of a child—one that child does not understand. Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated case.
Mutual respect falls to tempers left and right. We all see and hear of it, and at some time, experience it. What we too often do not realize is how hard it is on us to carry that anger around.
We know for fact that stress kills. Anger is stress. For you and for those around you. Doubt it?
Have you ever walked into a room where the tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife? How did it make you feel? Edgy, uncomfortable–like searching for the nearest exit.
I remember once my husband and I went out to dinner with another couple. This was a long time ago, when money was really tight and having dinner out was a huge thing that required hiring a sitter, feeding the kids, dressing and–well, you know what all it required. Work, planning, effort, and money.
So we meet this couple at the restaurant, and they are snipping and sniping at each other and continued to do so through the entire meal. Not a single civil word passed between them.
We were uncomfortable. And, frankly, I was ticked. My special night out, and it was ruined. Not only was I stuck in a tension-filled place with two angry warriors, I was paying what to me was a fortune for it–and paying a sitter. Very angry. That, of course, helped nothing. Only gave me a headache to go along with all the other raunchy stuff tension makes you feel.
We skipped dessert and left. On the way home, we stopped and got an ice-cream cone and sat out in the breeze to eat it. That was a wonderful change, and we both totally enjoyed it. So our special night wasn’t ruined after all. But it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if we’d gone directly home, we’d have carried that anger home with us. Instead, while sitting outside eating ice-cream, we let go of it, and that broke anger’s hold on us. The weariness in our hearts floated away.
Tip #5: Attitude might not be everything, but it is a significant factor in everything.
This is it. The fifth tip that can make a world of difference–even in situations where you ignore the other four. This is your ace-in-the-hole. The weapon in your arsenal that too often is pulled out last but always should be pulled out first. When all else fails, this can pull you up out of that abyss that has you anchored in the bottom of the pit–and it can be used at any time you choose to use it. It is your attitude.
When your heart is weary, change your attitude.
You can say, “I can’t take one more thing. Not one more thing going wrong.”
Or you can change your attitude and say, “Things have gone wrong, but things have gone right, too. What’s gone right? How can I make more things go right?”
Or you can say, “I’d rather not deal with one more thing, but what is is. I got to it, I can get through it.”
Or you can say, “All righty, then. All this stuff is happening. Why? What am I not seeing?” Look and you might just spot an opportunity trying to find a way into your life. But that door can’t open until this one closes. And being resistant to change, you’re fighting letting it close so what’s better can get to you.
And I guess that’s the major point. Sometimes you’ve got to kiss the toads to get the prince. Sometimes you’ve got to trudge through the swamp to get to the garden.
A while ago, I had eye surgery. Again. This was the ninth or tenth time–honestly, I’ve lost track. Anyway, the recovery time was supposed to be about two and a half weeks. Two months later, I still wasn’t seeing right and news from the doc was that we might have to go in again and do something different.
When you’re a writer and your sight is down, you’re heart weary. When it happens over and over again you’re heart weary. But when you haven’t had a break between weary times and you’re looking at another one, you can really be weary.
Or you can choose to be grateful there’s something else that can be done. That you’re not blind. That jumping right back into another surgery isn’t a matter of sight or its loss. You can wait a little while. You can be grateful that the situation or your condition is not worse.
And if you are grateful and you can not worry, so much the better.
Because worry is like anger. It’ll chew you up and spit you out and leave your heart weary and in shreds.
But it can only do that if you let it.
And that’s the secret weapon in your possession. You can choose not to let it. To adjust your attitude and focus on the gratitude. Because no matter how tough times are, they could be worse. Be grateful they aren’t.
And those are my school-of-hard-knock tips to lifting a weary heart.❖
© 2009, 2013, Vicki Hinze.
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Vicki Hinze is the award-winning bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest releases are: Torn Loyalties (faith-affirming romantic suspense), Legend of the Mist (romantic suspense), Duplicity (mystery/thriller), One Way to Write a Novel (nonfiction). She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theo-centric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s website: www.vickihinze.com. Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact.