As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, I had a heckuva time finishing my first book. I started writing the novel when I was newly pregnant with my family’s fourth child and I had figured I would be done around about the time my baby was born. But at the end of nine months the baby was ready to launch but the book was not. Over the course of the next decade or so my husband and I moved quite a bit, and I gave birth to my family’s fifth child.
I would plug away at my book off and on, but mostly I found reasons not to work on it. It wasn’t a priority, I had a busy family, writing a book was essentially a selfish pursuit, completing a book wasn’t going to make my family rich, I didn’t think I could do it, who did I think I was to write a book anyway, what if nobody wants to read it, etc. etc. etc. I was consumed with self-doubt and I thought that writing a book was way too self-absorbed an activity to merit my energy. It might make my world better, maybe, but ultimately it be of no great value to anybody else.
I still really wanted to be a published author. And I was also a little afraid of the idea. My husband kept saying, “Write your book.”
And then, one terrible, incomprehensibly traumatic day, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer; three months later, he died.
My husband’s death was a huge wake-up call for me. I was left to raise a seven-year-old and a nine-year-old alone, and I had to re-tool my professional life to support us all financially. I was devastated, of course, by the tragedy of a life cut short so abruptly. Steve had died with a lot of songs un-sung and a lot of dreams died with him. I learned that we don’t know how much time we have left on this planet and if there is something you feel you need to do with your life, you’d better get on with it. I realized it was time to stop doubting myself and start investing in my dream of becoming a published author. That’s not why I started my book. But it is certainly why I finished it.
I actually started writing my first book because I had been dreaming about writing a book since I had been a little girl. I also wanted to move the dial on people’s understanding of the nature of spousal abuse and the story I had in mind at the time was about an abusive relationship. I wanted my voice, through the voice of my characters, to be heard.
Eventually I completed my book manuscript, had it professionally edited, and, by the Grace of God, it was picked up by the traditional publishers at Manor House Publishing. One of the proudest days of my life was when I held the published copy of my book in my hands. My name, “Susan Crossman” was on the cover!
If you’ve been putting off finishing the book that is going to turn you into a published author, then I invite you to stop dreaming and start getting serious about getting the project finished. Believe in yourself and commit to your future. I am immensely grateful that I shifted into overdrive on the writing of my book when I did. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I let that dream of becoming a published author drift into oblivion.
You can do this. Don’t give up!