A few years ago, with the advent of new ebook and print on demand publishers, I published 2 novels within months of each other, fulfilling my dream of publication. But fame didn’t prevail, and the stress of publicity along with self-promotion got the better of me. I overextended myself mentally, physically and financially as I continued to work full time, start a new business with my husband, and try to pursue my dream of writing. An emotionally draining job left (and still leaves) little energy to continue writing when it seemed my writing career wasn’t going to take off. Plus, I felt I had to keep my writing a secret from my boss and thus separate from my life. This made it hard to keep it a part of my life at all. I was discouraged with my publisher and the publishing world in general and thought about giving up many times. I prayed and ranted to God, wondering why He would put this dream in my heart if I was never going to be successful. Mere publication wasn’t, IMO, success. I wanted more.
I finished my third novel, yet couldn’t seem to get it published. I once envisioned this wonderful booksigning event where I would feature a moose, which was a huge symbol in my book, and I told myself if I ever published this story, I would have to find me a stuffed moose to put with my book. I already had the image of this moose pictured in my head and how I would take him along with me on my booksignings. This stuffed moose was almost like a character in my book.
After a year of having my third story written and about 40 rejections later (I wasn’t ready to submit to my current publisher yet), and many months of on again, off again writing, I was ready to give up, or at least “give myself a break without beating myself up”. I cancelled my website (I was having problems with the webhost anyway) and I thought about doing away with everything related to my writing.
One day during my lunch break, I went to a gift shop with a (non-writing) friend of mine and there, sitting on the shelf, was the moose—almost exactly as I had pictured him in my story and in my dreams. Just one moose, for sale, amongst many other items. I didn’t buy him, but kept looking and thinking about him. I told my husband about him because it was so close to Christmas I thought if my husband bought him, fine, but if not, then it wasn’t meant to be.
The next morning, I was reading my “writer’s devotional” (Julia Cameron’s FINDING WATER). It was the very last chapter and, I thought, my last hurrah with writing for awhile. If I decided to take it up again, fine, but it wouldn’t be that important to me. I had way too many other things to worry about and I was just one person. Whether or not I published another book was obviously not going to make an impact on anyone else, so why should I let it impact me?
In this “devotional”, Julia spoke of a writer’s symbol. She explained why it was so important to have something that means something to you and your writing (whether it’s a bracelet, necklace, etc). I knew then that I had to go back and get that moose. It was like a symbol to me, calling out to me. I knew it when I saw it, yet I kept trying to ignore it and push it out of my mind. When I went back to the store, the owner’s little girl said, ‘finally someone is buying that moose. He has been staring at me all this time.” This was affirmation that this moose was my sign.
If I hadn’t read that little chapter the very next day, I may have ignored that moose (though I hadn’t been able to get it out of my mind since I saw it the day before). Reading that chapter was like I had been sucker-punched. If I ignored that message, then I had no one to blame but myself.
With renewed vigor and zest (and thanks to Margie Lawson’s DEFEATING SELF DEFEATING BEHAVIORS), I am revamping my third novel and waiting for the right time. Now all I hear about is how bad the economy is and how hard it is for unknown writers. Yet, I still write, but I write with a lot more energy and enthusiasm now. My moose sits along beside me as I work on my story (now a series), watching over me even as I sleep. He is my writer’s symbol, a reminder that I am heading down the right path no matter how difficult the journey.