I was recently asked by Jenny Milchman to write a ‘Made It Moment’ for her blog. My first reaction was “I haven’t ‘made it’, so what could I write about?”. But then I got to thinking and realised that my ‘Made It Moment’ is more to do with how I feel about my writing and not society’s view of success. It was quite pivotal for me – the realisation that I had actually fulfilled a major goal in my writing career was a major breakthrough and has boosted my self-confidence no end.
After the post was published earlier last week, I was amazed by the comments it received. Some of them made me feel I was not alone in the struggle I had in completing my first novel, Heart Search: Lost, and each one was supportive of me as a person and a writer. I’m so grateful to everyone who took the time to comment and show me such support!
My ‘Made It Moment’ is quite emotional on more than one level, but I wanted to share my story. If it gives even one person hope and inspiration then all the angst I felt writing it will be worthwhile. So, without further ado, here it is (alternatively you can view the original on Jenny Milchman’s blog by clicking on this link http://www.jennymilchman.com/blog/2012/12/18/made-it-moment-carlie-cullen/ and see the introduction and comments first hand)
“Isn’t it funny how it’s easier to believe the bad stuff people say to you than the positive?
Two years ago, when in the early stages of working on Heart Search: Lost, my dream of writing a novel and getting it published was almost dashed by someone who, instead of being a supportive husband, took great delight in putting me down. Phrases like, “What are you wasting your time doing that for?” and “Do you honestly think anyone will pay good money to read that crap?” and “If you’re so bored that you want to write, you should go out and get a second job!” and finally, “You’re living in a dream world – no one’s going to publish anything you write!” haunted me on a daily basis.
I’d been writing since I was a child and it was such a huge part of my life. It was my emotional escape and outlet, plus it gave me a great deal of pleasure. When I decided to write my first novel, I was excited and full of ideas. I wasn’t naïve enough to think I would land a publishing deal with the ‘big six’ (although I hoped it might be a possibility one day), but that didn’t stop me. I had a goal, one which fired me and drove me on to achieve something I dreamed about – to see my book on Amazon.
As the taunts and disparaging remarks continued, I began to get worn down. My self-esteem fell through the floor and I doubted myself and my abilities. My writing began to suffer and I started to believe I would fail before I’d even reached a quarter of the way through. But I had a shining light in my life, someone who believed in me and my writing ability, someone who encouraged/cajoled/pestered me to get each new chapter written – my wonderful daughter. She took to grabbing my laptop every time I left the room, to read what I’d just written, and upon returning was greeted with the phrase, “Where’s the next bit?” It became like a mantra. She loved the story and was eager to see where I was taking the characters next. She encouraged me right up until the final words were written, which was two months after the marriage ended and we moved out.
Just under a year later, after several rounds of editing, my book, Heart Search, book one: Lost was up on Amazon. I had achieved my goal and I felt like a kid at Christmas, faced with a pile of gaily wrapped presents. My heart soared and I was filled with joy. I’d proved the doubter wrong when, at the end of the first day, I had achieved sales on both sides of the Atlantic. If ever there was a time to flip someone ‘the bird’, that would have been it!
My daughter and I looked at the screen and she hugged me, saying, “I knew you could do it, Mum, and I’m so proud of you!” “
After I finished writing this, I realised I hadn’t only written it for other writers or aspiring authors, I’d written it for readers too. I think it’s important for readers to understand what happens behind the scenes, to see writers as real people with hopes, aspirations and rocky roads to negotiate. Once a reader connects with an author, it’s a wonderful relationship which can span many years and one I treasure.