I have struggled the past year in pursuing my dream of becoming a working writer. My goal was to complete my rough draft of a novel I’ve been working on the past ten years at the end of 2022. I attained my goal, mission accomplished and felt exhilarated and anxious since the story and characters were a huge part of my life. Letting go the first novel you cultivate isn’t easy, yet I’m not finished. I have the arduous task of outlining and plotting since I’m a pantser (a writer who writes out the story and allows the characters to react and flow without plotting or outlining first.) This is challenging when you haven’t planned out your plot, story arc and plot points. However, pantsers succeed, it’s just a complicated revision process. The idea for the story culminated about thirteen years prior to actually writing a very rough sketch. After spending time in two writing groups (still actively involved with one,) taking writing craft classes and workshops I buckled down in October 2022 and called a writing coach I had been following for two years in hopes to finish the novel (which happened) and follow a rigorous revision and plotting plan with guidance (didn’t happen.)
At first, my faith was strong in this person. I felt “this woman can help me.” We had our first initial phone conversation which sounded promising. An informal interview, questioning whether we were both a right fit and how serious I was on completing this novel. She even asked how I would feel if I didn’t get this novel done. What would happen if I gave up and didn’t finish. How would it change my life. I explained the time invested and how far I’d come was too prolific to throw it all away and never fathomed giving up. I was determined, excited and ambitious. The energy was high and mutual feelings of success were matched, or so I thought.
We arranged for a second call and this time she asked my husband be present for the conversation. Much to his hesitation, he agreed. She proceeded to drill him with questions about how his life was impacted by my hours of writing, time sacrificed. How much belief he had in my confidence as a writer. He was supportive and reinforced the importance of my writing life. It felt good, all sounded good, until she dropped the price. Our mouths fell open. We asked for more time to think about it, meaning the next day, but were told we only had five minutes to discuss because the price with a discount wasn’t valid after that day. I felt optimistic and hopeful with the decision in paying, pleading with my eyes to my husband, who looked skeptical. Especially when I asked what her rate on return was, she proudly answered 100%. She had connections to publishers and could provide that feedback according to standard and shape my novel for the audience. Personally, it was now or never and my husband agreed for my sake, knowing I wanted this so badly.
I signed a contract for eight weeks and thought, perfect. She’ll help me finish and then we can get down to the grit and revise, tweak, fix, outline and plot. Well, I was part of a collective. The eight weeks was “learning the craft” from beginning to end which I respected and appreciated however, was hoping I could do that after finishing. I was 90% complete with the book and she was aware of that, but I was required to be part of a Facebook group and engage in activities and weekly check-ins, with one of her “trainers” which wasn’t too bad. We reviewed our writing goals for the week and discussed our fears, apprehensions and doubts. We also had one on one’s with the coach herself weekly, but this was reviewing questions we had on the craft modules on her site. The personal one on one with the coach were twice during the eight weeks. We submit 20 pages (40 total) of our WIP (Work In Progress) review the submission with the coach and go over any questions we had about our piece. She also discouraged involvement with writing groups. They weren’t conducive to the writing process nor adding additional classes or resources, stick to the program as is. When I finished we had a last interview, and that was, to continue on, I’d need to pay another exorbitant amount monthly for more exclusive, in-depth meetings with her and the publication process. I hesitated when she asked for my credit card information right away and told her I needed to wait the following week. She answered with another sales pitch, “I can’t guarantee your spot will be available.” I shook my head, “And that’s ok.” I replied. When I told my husband it would be $xxxx.xx a month more for me to continue, he lost it. He was angry and felt duped.
He talked through what was alarming to him, but during the call we had with her previously, didn’t want me to feel discouraged because he could see how much it meant to me. At that moment, I realized he was right. I ran through the discussion in my mind before we paid for the eight weeks and reached out to a young woman, who was part of my small group and was a week ahead of me in the program. I didn’t see her name on the Facebook forum anymore when her eight weeks were up and was curious. I sent her a message and asked if she was moving forward. She decided not to pursue the program because she felt it wasn’t transparent up front and for what we paid was overpriced. Things my husband pointed out. She planned on finishing her rough draft and pursuing a content editor. This is what I thought I was getting, or more of. An all in one coach, editor, advisor and connection to the publishing world.
For lack of better words, I lost my shit. I bawled. I ignored my inner voice trying to show me the signs. I kept moving forward with my self-blinders feeling as if I knew what I was doing. Hindsight helps you stop and take a breath and a step back to re-align your position and it’s painful. There was nothing I could do about what we paid, other than just deal with it and learn from the experience. I don’t linger on the mis-direction; it’s done. I move forward on my own, equipped with the knowledge and resources I’ve attained over the years. My fear of doing this on my own is what paralyzed me and believing I needed someone to hold my hand. In retrospect, I finished my draft without any “real” coaching or guidance. I just needed to focus and shift that fear to belief that I can work on revisions, outlining and plotting myself, and I’ve had plenty of resources all along. She’s not the only expert, though she tried to make me believe she was. On top of the fact, as she pointed out and something I was aware of, as a new author I wouldn’t get a six-figure contract. I would possibly be offered on the low scale $20,000.00 tops. After calculating, the x amount we already paid and if I decided to move forward paying the x amount a month, I’d be basically paying a publisher to publish my book. Shaking my head.
Current situation: Working on my outlining (painful, but I push on) and planning my escape from my 8 to 5 JOB that pays the bills with something I’d rather pursue, making money to live, feeling at peace, engaged and present. Not daydreaming about it. I had paid for a course to help me with this goal and honestly, have slacked off on this side endeavor. I’m tired of someone telling me I have to adhere to a company policy and that’s that, as if I didn’t have a choice. I do have a choice: leave. But, I can’t just walk away that easily and here I need to plan and prepare. I must reprioritize my time to learn and align myself with prospects for something I control and set my own hours that work around my novel writing. I’m tired of helping others make money when that wealth isn’t distributed fairly, especially during high inflation and cost of living. Find something else, work on getting out of where I don’t want to be. It’s so easy to advise others of this when I hear it all the time, yet I don’t follow it myself or I give up too easily.
I will research wisely before jumping feet first into something. Put the horse before the cart. The time is going to pass anyway, so adding that needed time toward my passion won’t hurt me. It will enable my misplaced energy into manifesting what I want in my life. Time was always the culprit. Never enough time, never enough time. I need to get out of my head and just do, without looking at the calendar. Commitment in the clouds is like trying to walk the streets of a foreign city without a map. Plan, prepare, persevere.
The struggle is real, but I have the control panel. I’ve had it all along.
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