Merry Christmas from SkipJack Publishing.  The following is a repost from Pamela Fagan Hutchins on putting yourself out there.  It’s timely and really, it’s not just about writing; it’s abo

christmas-service-planning-tips-headerut living your best life. LOVE your life, every line of it.  Write your own Story this holiday season.  Practice makes perfect,  get a jump on 2016.  Cheers and Eggnog.

 

 

 


One of the hardest things about writing, any writing, is putting it out there. I’ll bet you can remember the first time you put your heart on paper and let someone else see you bleed. Scary stuff, isn’t it? Whether it’s a paper in college, a blog post, a short story for a contest, or sometimes even a Facebook post. Been there. Hurt like that.

I’ve spent my whole life pretending I was a writer that wasn’t a writer. In fact, I spent most of my life pretending I was things I wasn’t or didn’t want to be, things that satisfied what I thought people expected of me. Things that made me serious. Successful. Safe. I played to my weaknesses, because then I could protect my strengths from exposure, keep them whole, keep myself whole. Maybe this makes sense to some of you. Maybe you’ve been there and hurt like that.

I chose a career where I had to write, but it was only words, not words. I entered a world of other people’s stories, not my own. I spent twenty years at it. I’m still doing it, in fact. I did the same thing in my personal life. With my first marriage. With athletics. With music. I put on a mask and played pretend.

Until seven years ago. Seven years ago, I found my courage. I used it to try out my voice. It wasn’t much of a voice. But the only way it was going to get stronger, better, truer, was if I kept using it.

So that’s what I did. I spent seven years training, learning, practicing, growing, strengthening. I listened to other voices. I sang along with them at times. Other times, I took the harmony role, or struck out on a melody all my own. Over seven years, my voice sang 1,500,000 words, through my fingers. One million five hundred thousand words. That’s seven million five hundred thousand letters, spaces, commas, periods, and God knows what else. It’s 500+ blog posts, on innumerable websites. It’s songs, poems, short stories, and essays. It’s six award-winning narrative nonfiction books published under SkipJack Publishing, and five novels, themselves the winners of multiple awards.

A lot of it was crap, or at least started as crap. That’s why it took seven years. Hell, I can write 1,500 words an hour in my sleep. I could have done the million and a half in that first year and called it a day. I didn’t just write those 1,500,000 words, I rewrote them, over and over and over.

There were five clear points along the way where I had to overcome an absolute maelstrom of doubt and fear inside me, but, yet, when I did, when I did it — put it out there — it moved me forward exponentially. They are the reason for those 1,500,000 words, not just the words as I first wrote them, but the words they became. As a writer, I want to share these points with you in case they help you put it out there, too. Because I think they were essential to my journey. You know the one. The writer’s journey. The one you’re on, if you’re reading this post.

The first — hitting publish on my first blog. Sounds goofy now when I say it. I thought I would turn to stone when I clicked the button the first time. But it got me over the fear that others would hear me (and not like me).

The second? Letting an editor read my work, a big time editor. Scary like the thought of ever using an Epilady again after my first horrible experience with that torture contraption 15 years ago. The conversation I had with that editor was one of the most important in my writing life. She gave me hope, without promises. Reality. It was 20 minutes of her life, and it was the next forty years of mine. Thank you, Jane Friedman.

The third was writing about the subjects most painful and personal to me in the first person and getting the hell over it being about me. Alcoholism. My flaws as a parent. The challenges I face in personal relationships. I learned to access that emotion, put it out there, and separate myself from it. Bonus: it helped other people. That motivates me. Now, finally, I can channel it into strangers, into fiction.

The fourth: when an agent read my whole manuscript. Read two of my whole manuscripts, in fact, back to back. I got the best advice of my fledgling writing career from her. Writing is rewriting, and voice without fully realized craft  is not enough. Thank you, Elizabeth Pomada. I took it to heart and spent the last two years working on craft. It paid off.

And the fifth? Entering my books in contests to be judged, scored, rated, compared, and critiqued. Thank you, writers who give their time to make this possible for their peers.

Putting it out there. It’s where the writer’s journey started for me. It’s what propels me forward on the path, sometimes in small steps and sometimes in quantum leaps. And it never stops, never, ever, ever stops. One million five hundred thousand words. That’s putting it out there. And if I want to make this writer’s gig my career, to go the route of indie publishing, I have to continue putting it out there. So, world, here’s my heart, you hold it in your hands. Take my soul, pass it around. It’s OK. You have my blessing.

I’m a writer. I can handle it.

 

pamela author portraitPamela Fagan Hutchins writes overly long e-mails, hilarious nonfiction, and  series mysteries, like Katie & Annalise which includes the bestselling Saving Graceand Emily which she kicks off with the 2015 WINNER of the USA Best Book Award for Cross Genre Fiction, Heaven to Betsy. She resides deep in the heart of Nowheresville, Texas and in the frozen north of Snowheresville, Wyoming. Pamela has a passion for great writing and smart authorpreneurship as well as long hikes with her hunky husband and pack of rescue dogs, traveling in the Bookmobile, and experimenting with her Keurig. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound (if she gets a good running start).

Skip Jack Authors have been working hard in 2015.  New releases, Freebies, Book Bub deals.. it’s all coming in 2016.   Check out our authors here – SKIPJACK AUTHORS

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21 Responses to Tis’ the Season to “Write Your Own Story”. Merry Christmas !

  1. Terri Sonoda says:

    Wow, what a journey! I first read this article on my phone this morning before even turning on my computer….that’s how much Pamela’s words and advice mean to me! I am just proud to know you, my friend, even if I only virtually know you.
    Awesome writer. Amazing woman!
    Hugs,
    Terri

    P.S. HAPPY Birthday Eric!!!

    • Pamela says:

      Thanks Terri 🙂

      I know you can relate the sentiments and growth expressed in this post! It’s really hard for me to describe how important repeated exposure is to me as a writer. One thing I didn’t express in this piece is how critical it is in thickening my skin, although I guess that’s implied in all of it. You can’t let the sensitive artist inside you dominate all the time, you have to teacher her how to handle the hard stuff, the no’s, the criticism, the lies.

  2. Eric Hutchins says:

    I run out of words, often, to express how I feel about your posts Pamela. This one is really really special to me. It is just so EXACTLY what I see in you and what I have watched over these last 4 years. From the first blog, to the growth of your current site to your works, both published and soon to be.
    To those of you that are on the same path as Pamela, have courage, believe in yourself and you can be what it is you set out to be. Just know that it is hard, and the rewards sometimes feel very small and far apart. And, it is not until you look back, that you really see and get to enjoy how far you have come.

  3. Pamela says:

    Thank you Mr. Hutchins 🙂 Yes, this one was authentic. Because I’ve learned that putting anything less than truth out there is transparent. And not worth readers’ time.

  4. “”Putting it out there””…

    It’s sort of like undressing in front of the Universe, Isn’t it?

    But it feels Sooo good…opening up that vein.

    You. Rock. Abundantly, Pamela.

    Thank You for inspiring all of us. Xxxx

    • Pamela says:

      LOL, yes, it is! With the bright lights on of the the worst mall-store dressing room hot upon your thighs 🙂

      Thanks, Kim, and thanks for the inspiration you give to me and others, as well.

  5. Thank you for this excellent training advice. I love how, in the two years I’ve e-known you you have grown bolder in proclaiming the TRUTH. “I am a writer,” you said. Proudly, e-loudly. It has been an experience e-watching you grow into the confident writer you are. Thank you for sharing your open vein with us so we can go out there and also boldly declare, “I AM A WRITER!”

  6. Paul J. Fagan says:

    Been sittin’ here tryin’ to think of something clever to say to hide my feelings and be cool and aloof, but isn’t that is what you are writing about. So good at keeping things vague. I don’t put it out there due to the paralysis of reflection on my ego. How are they going to react? What will they think of me? On and on, fear controls.
    In pro baseball, three hits out of 10 attempts is considered darn good. And knowing that no baseball player just walked up there and cracked one out the park their first time to bat, why would one judge their writing legacy based on their first attempt. Yet, I have.
    In writing, what should the expectation be? A home run on every at bat? Or is there some other measure?
    “If no one liked it, it ain’t no good”. But, did I ask?
    Thanks for putting “Putting it out there” out there!

    • Pamela says:

      I think it is swinging the bat that is important. Over and over. Like Babe Ruth. We may only get one bases-loaded-homer in our writing lifetimes, but every swing was critical and led to that moment. Go Paul!

  7. Thanks for the continued encouragement, Pamela. I went to a writers’ group meeting last week… I have to say it was not what I’d hoped for. BUT I met someone there who asked me to go for coffee and that hour was truly beneficial. She told me about another writers’ group that meets twice a month over at Barnes & Noble at Baybrook. Thinking about hitching a ride with her, next time she goes. I think, based on my experience last week, it’s important to find people who are serious about writing and not just pretending to be writers. That may sound a little harsh, but it’s true, don’t you think? The pretend writers aren’t helping themselves or any of us to grow in our craft.

    • Pamela says:

      I do think that. And I think the wrong writers group can crush you, so don’t be afraid to walk out if this one isn’t right for you either. Keep looking until you find the right encouragement and support for YOUR journey and YOUR voice.

  8. Kimberly says:

    I am so proud of you.So so so proud.
    Thank you for finding your voice and using it to help people.
    I write a lot about my bipolar journey and I bare everything. Some people find it alarming but I hope that I can help at least one person through all of this.
    Sometimes though i do feel the need to censor myself…or write for the crowd…but mostly i do it for me and for that one soul that needs the encouragment to keep going.
    You are so accomplished in your work and for that I am so proud of you.

    • Pamela says:

      Thank you Kimberly — I am amazed at the clear, brave voice you have and all the help you give others by sharing your journey of pain and love. You are wonderful.

  9. Ally says:

    You are so inspiring! I hope you keep talking about this writing journey, because it gives a lot of us that little glimmer of “I CAN do it!” 🙂

  10. Nikki Loftin says:

    Pamela, I’m so glad you kept at it! You’re an inspiration. Great post.
    (One million words? Brrr. My fingers weep.)

  11. Julie says:

    Beautiful, inspiring post. I am one of those “not a writer” people. You’re a writer, I am a dabbler.

  12. Eric Hutchins says:

    Awesome, timeless, wonderful, post.

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