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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

THE HELP YOU GET ALONG THE WAY by CHERYL PIERSON


Do you have a “collection” of special people in your life? People that helped you in ways maybe you hadn’t really given much thought to, but that turned out to be extremely important? One of the first milestones in my writing career—becoming a finalist in the EPIC Awards with my first novel, FIRE EYES—brought this realization home to me. I got curious. I know there are incidents in people’s lives that are pivotal to their entire careers, dreams, and goals, that, perhaps at the time, don’t seem that important. Later, looking back on it, it becomes an “aha” moment—you understand that THIS was the moment when you made the decision to do something you might not have done otherwise, or because of a word of encouragement you continued on when you’d been ready to stop.

Most people that I’ve met in the last half of my adulthood would never describe me as “shy,” but as a youngster, I was—horribly. That’s one reason I turned to writing. It was a great way for me to get my feelings out without actually having to say them. I could have someone else say it all for me.
In this picture, I was about 3 years old. Hadn't reached the self-conscious stage yet.

I imagine that’s how many of my fellow writers started, too. I sometimes wonder what might have happened had we all known each other when we were younger. Would we have developed into the writers we are today, or would we have found our “niche” with one another and NOT turned so much to writing?

One of my senior pictures, so I was 16, almost 17 (made the summer before sr. year, 1975). In the heart of my shy stage.

If you can relate to the “shy” part, then maybe you felt this way, too: I was never competitive. Not like so many sports contenders might be. The things I enjoyed, writing and music, were open to everyone, I felt. I am not a “joiner” and I am not one to enter a lot of contests. I entered FIRE EYES in the 2010 EPIC Awards competition, and something odd happened when I did.

From the moment I entered, my attitude about myself changed. BEFORE I entered, I thought, “I probably don’t have a chance.” But my mom always used to say, “If you don’t enter, you certainly are NOT going to win!” I remembered those words, and sent in my entry that very day. Once it was sent, I began to feel some confidence growing. As I analyzed WHY, here’s what I came up with.

FIRE EYES was a joint project. I wrote it, but I couldn’t have if I hadn’t had the cooperation and support of my family—my kids and my husband. While I was writing it, my oldest sister, Annette, was constantly asking about “how it’s coming”, and she was the one I could bounce ideas off of. My parents had been so supportive, and one of my great regrets is that they both passed away before they could know that FIRE EYES had been published. Once written, my business partner read it for glaring mistakes, and my best friend of 45 years read it for moral support. The Wild Rose Press accepted it, and my editor, Helen Andrew, was so phenomenal in helping me mold it and shape it into the story that was released in May, 2009. My cover artist, Nicola Martinez, did a superb job on the beautiful cover. My family and friends were all pulling for me, and constantly offering encouragement. With all these people behind me and my story, my confidence rose. Whatever would be, would be—and entering the competition was a win/win situation. Even if I didn’t make it to the finals, I would still have taken the chance and had the experience.

When I received the news that my book was, indeed, a finalist, I thought immediately of all the people who had helped me get to this point; people in my life who had faith in me, and in my ability, and in the story itself. I thought of that saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It’s true, even in the broader sense of our lives as writers. The experiences we had growing up, people who encouraged us even then, our spouses, our children, mentors and teachers we’ve had along the way, and peers that have helped and encouraged us. Editors, artists, publishers and organizations such as EPIC that give us a chance to compete and strive to be better and better, along with our readers, are all part of the completed circle of a successful writer’s endeavors.

Though FIRE EYES didn’t win that year, the experience of entering the competition and finalling in it was more important that I could have realized when I sent my entry in. It was the thing that made me understand just how many people had been involved in the entire process of writing that book. And it gave me the impetus and encouragement to move forward with the rest of my writing projects since that time. That realization was far more important than winning the contest, and has been with me every day, like a component of myself that I didn’t have before; another part of my make-up.

Since then, FIRE EYES has gone to a different publisher, WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER. With yet another great cover, this time by Karen Nutt, and a fantastic publisher, Rebecca Vickery, it’s once again seeing renewed success. But moreover, that’s yet another example of the help I’ve gotten on my writing journey.

Does anyone have a “special person” that helped them along the way? Not just in writing, but in your life’s goals and dreams? What about a “collection” of special people? My “collection” of special people in my life is the thing that I am most thankful for above all else. Without them, my dreams could have never happened. I could never have done it alone.

Cheryl's Amazon Author Page:
https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

17 comments:

  1. Hi Cheryl,

    Like you, I could not have made this journey alone. I was lucky enough to win my family over to the process. I guess they were relieved not to have to worry about all the little bits of paper and napkins with writing on them. Once I started using a notebook, and then a computer - it became real to all of us.

    Once I had a few projects under my belt, I set out to conquer the world, but alas, my skill level was way below what was needed. Next stop was a critique group guided by a published author looking to start writing again. Barbara nurtured a group of us, about 6 in all, and most are published now. I learned a lot by being around her, not just about writing, but about the business of writing, and how to manage your expectations.

    All were lessons I took to heart.

    Nice post!

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    1. Maggie, how great that you found someone like Barbara and your small group of serious writers! It helps to have others who are in the business of writing and know the ropes a little. And managing your expectations? Wow, wouldn't it be great if they taught THAT somewhere--not just in writing but in LIFE. You were very lucky to have such a supportive family and a mentor such as Barbara. Thanks for coming by--I always love to hear about other people's experiences like this.
      Cheryl

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  2. Cheryl! Great post. I can't begin to list the people who have helped me along the way. Other than my family, friends, and critique partners, a handful of authors who believed in me gave me the encouragement to keep trying. I'm forever grateful to them.

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    1. Jerrie, I wholeheartedly agree--I can't list all the people that helped me, either. There have been so many, who kept me going with just an encouraging word or two when I needed it. Simple things like that are so important, and mean the world at the time they happen, don't they? Thanks so much for coming by--I always love to hear from others. Like you, I'm forever grateful to those who helped me, too.

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  3. Awww, I love your photos. Such a darling child! And look at you now, successful and popular, too. I remember, as a new author at Wild Rose, the cover for Fire Eyes was right above my All My Hopes and Dreams on the Cactus Rose Blog. I wondered, who is Cheryl Pierson? Who knew we'd become good friends and co-workers so many years later.
    I can't say I had any help--I didn't even tell my husband until I had three ms written and decided to submit for publication. He was supportive, though, and still is, when he did figure out what the heck I was doing. I remember him sitting on the edge of the bed, staring at me, shaking his head, and said, "Sometimes I feel like I don't know you at all. I had no idea you could write." Well, I didn't know it either! But that was in a proud way, and it almost made me cry.
    It would be so nice if all of us had a good support system, but some of us have only one person. And I suppose that one is the most important.

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    1. Celia, isn't it amazing how fate works? I'm soooo glad that I got the chance to publish Fire Eyes with The Wild Rose Press--I made so many good friends there, including you! And I was able to see my dream turn into reality--nothing like holding your first book in your hands.

      How wonderful to have the full support of your husband! Mine is my tech support but other than that, he's not the least interested. He is a voracious reader, but not for what I write. How fantastic to have Jim's backing and pride in what you do! That's worth more than gold. As you say, that one is the most important.
      Hugs,
      Cheryl

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  4. Great post, Cheryl. Like you, I have several people I can thank, but I think my main thanks go to an internet friend on a fan-fiction loop about seven years ago. After many years when I didn't write any fiction, I started to write a fan-fiction story and eventually decided to send it to this particular friend to see what she thought of it. She loved it and persuaded me to post it on the site. I hesitated for quite a long time, as I'd lost confidence in my writing, but she kept telling me to post it. Eventually I did, and people loved it! So she was the one to give me back my confidence and the rest, as they say, is history!

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    1. Paula, what a great story. I'm so glad your friend persuaded you to post your fiction and get going on your writing again. Confidence is everything, and rejection can really break us down. Sometimes, all it takes is the steadfast commitment of one person to bring us back up and give that confidence the boost we need. I'm so glad it happened for you, and just look what came after that! As you say, the rest is history!
      Cheryl

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  5. What a cutie you were in those pictures. Just finaling in the EPIC Awards is an amazing accomplishment.
    I was never shy. I was the class clown, but I didn't really make friends that easily until high school. I loved doing things by myself and day dreaming.
    Although my family encourages me, they really don't ask me anything about my books and I'm not sure they read them even when I give them books. A select few friends, however, did ask me about my work, read my books and gave me valuable feedback. And one of those friends was you. Your encouragement and valuable help have been such a boost to my career. Thank you.

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    1. Oh, Sarah. That is one of the very nicest things anyone has ever said to me. Thank you so much. I am always glad to help--and I love your books and your characters. You are such a dear friend and I appreciate your support and help "along the way" as well. Hugs to you, Sarah!
      Cheryl

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  6. Cheryl, you were the first person to step up and give me a top-notch article for Romancing The West, so thanks for that and a lot of other things. As for writing itself, my critique group and a few others I critique with have never held back with honest criticism. That's priceless, especially when you know they're genuinely trying to help, even if you don't agree (especially then, actually). And my husband has always been my biggest fan for which I'm grateful. So many of my friends get no support at all from their families but I've never had to worry about that. I'm very lucky.

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    1. Jacquie, that is so nice of you to say. Any time you need an article or anything else, you just ask and I'll be glad to help. I always appreciate honesty from others, too, knowing that it's meant to help make something better. You're very lucky to have a group that is so supportive. And your family support is worth more than anything, in my opinion (probably because I don't have a lot of that!)LOL Yes, you are very very lucky. Couldn't happen to a nicer person, though!
      Cheryl

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  7. My brother suggested I may like this blog. He was totally right.
    This publish truly made my day. You cann't imagine just how a lot time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

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  8. Love the photos, Cheryl!

    I understand the shy thing but I think I would still be a writer, anyway, because I just can't imagine NOT being a writer. It's my life blood. I think you would be, too, because of the stories inside you.

    My list of helpful people is far too long to list here and I wouldn't want to leave anyone out. ;-)

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  10. Awww. This is really nice, Cheryl. I just happened upon it too!

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  11. I agree. Being a finalist in the EPIC awards is a great achievement!

    Morgan Mandel
    http://www.morganmandel.com

    ReplyDelete

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