I am honored to have my friend, Heather Gilbert, guest post on my blog today.
So glad to be a guest-poster on Heather’s blog today! Heather is one of my homeschooling mom pals who’s willing to answer all my curious homesteading questions. She did a great series on raising chickens on my blog here (I now have a new blog, linked in the bio below).
Today, I just wanted to share a bit about how a homeschooling mom like me decided to pursue my dream of becoming an author.
Back when my kiddos were small–like ages 6, 5, and 4–I would’ve never considered writing a book. I loved writing poetry and such–but having time to write entire books while homeschooling, dealing with all those childhood illnesses, and just trying to keep up with laundry, was out of the picture for me.
At some point when said kids were a bit older, a friend suggested I try NaNoWriMo, where you write a 50,000-word book in a month (usually November, but we did it in January). At some point around in here I’d read the Twilight series (yes, I’ll admit it!) and was impressed that Stephanie Meyer was also a stay-at-home-mom author. I decided to give it a whirl–I’d started writing books but I’d never managed to finish them. This time, I was determined and I had some accountability.
A desk in our freezing-cold basement, positioned a bit too close to the cat litter box, was hardly my office space of choice. But I found that I loved writing. I had to churn out about two to three chapters a night, but I committed to it, and before you know it, it was written! I typed THE END and knew it would be a best-seller….
Thus began a 5 1/2 year journey to publication. I will spare you all the details, which include landing three different literary agents, writing three different books in three different genres (paranormal, historical, and contemporary mystery). I just want to encourage you that even if the process takes a long while (I’ve thought I was crazy sometimes for hanging in there), it is worth it to follow your deepest dream.
Did I find the success I was looking for? As of now, yes. But it was nothing like what I thought it looked like. I went into this thinking I’d only be successful if my book was picked up by a traditional publisher (in my case, a Christian publisher, since that was the market I targeted). But God has changed my view of success.
Now, success looks like surviving. It looks like being able to say I hung in there and believed in my stories, even when it seemed no one “important” did. It means I’ve learned to take critiques of my writing, and I’ve picked up some editorial skills along the way. It looks like having the courage to take my novels and self-publish some of them, even if it means learning to format my books and spending lots of time in online marketing, since I have no marketing team but myself!
And finally, it looks like having readers for my novels, which was really the only thing I ever wanted. Novelists don’t write for themselves–they write to bring stories to life for others. So self-publishing is the route I have chosen for my Viking historical novel, God’s Daughter. This book is based around a real Christian Viking woman who had the courage to sail to the New World (North America) with her husband and even gave birth over here. I felt like this was a story worth fleshing out, and I’m so glad that as of November first of this year, it will be in readers’ hands.
Traditional publication may have been my writing dream, but it turns out there were other ways of feeling I’d achieved my goals. I truly hope this encourages you with those dreams that are burning inside you–whatever they are. I know there are seasons to the homeschooling life. I could have never written the first book when my kiddos were small. And yet, I have many author friends who are doing just that. You have to evaluate how much you personally are ready to take on and when is the best time to “go for it.”
And then you hang onto that dream! Unless God gives you a bigger dream or a different one. I try to always stay open to Him–if He shows me very specifically to stop writing, I’m ready to do it. I do miss having more free time with my kids. But I am still able to homeschool at this stage in my career.
I’d love it if you all commented on dreams you have simmering or things you’re looking forward to doing in life. Honestly, one of my dreams is to be a grandma and just sit and talk on the porch with my kids and grandkids. But I can see how writing keeps my mind busy, and I know that will be a comfort when the kids fly the nest, too.
What dreams do you hope to follow someday?
Thank you, Heather, for having me over to your blog!
Heather enjoys writing stories about authentic, believable marriages. Sixteen years of marriage to her sweet Yankee husband have given her some perspective, as well as ten years spent homeschooling her three children. Heather is the ACFW West Virginia Area Coordinator.
You can find Heather at her website, Heather Day Gilbert–Author, and at her Facebook Author Page, as well as Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Goodreads. Her newest book, “God’s Daughter” is available here on my affiliate partner’s website.
Heather’s homesteading journey started in 2006, with baby steps: first, she got a few raised beds, some chickens, and rabbits. Over the years, she amassed a wealth of homesteading knowledge, knowledge that you can find in the articles of this blog.