Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Rewriting My Own Stories


It always seems like the worst things happen when my husband is out of town. Last summer, when my husband and three oldest children were on a church camp out, I got three pieces of bad news. First, I got the dreaded call from the hospital that my tests had not come back normal. Second, one of my son's friends told me his mom wouldn't allow him to play at my house any more. (I felt terrible.) Third, I got my first reader reviews for my book, and they were horrible.

For the next three weeks, things didn't get much better. My husband broke our camera on the church camp out. The neighbor kids decided to play tricks on my kids. The reviews got worse. And I had to wait a month to find out for sure that I was cancer free. When I finally got that wonderful phone call from the hospital that said I don't have cancer, I was so relieved. I am still relieved. But a few days later, I got a $1000 bill for my biopsy (that was after insurance.) And more bills for my other hospital tests. 

With all the trauma in my life last summer, I didn't enjoy the publication process. It was just too stressful to revise, rewrite, market, and do signings when I had all these other things going on. I thought about quitting. Then I decided that I liked writing--just not the other parts of publishing.

So I kept writing because it made me happy, but I promised myself that I could write simply for my own pleasure. And I did. I have loved every minute of writing Sense and Sensibility: A Latter-day Tale.

I wrote for myself--what I wanted to read and what I wanted to write. When my acquisitions editor contacted me last fall and asked if I had a new book for 2014, I had to think a while before answering, "yes." It was seriously a leap of faith to agree to another summer publication date.

In the last few months, as I've finished my book, I've thought about last summer. And I've thought of the stories I've told myself about last summer. I'm trying to rewrite my experiences of last year in a way that emphasizes the positives: 
  • First, I had bad test results, but I don't have cancer, and my doctor says I'm in great shape. I am even more grateful for my health now.
  • Second, my son's friend wasn't that great of an influence anyway. He was older than my son, and they fought a lot. My son has better friends now, which is another reason to celebrate. Yay!
  • Third, I got some awesome reviews last year too, including one from Publisher's Weekly. And, overall, the reviews got much better after those first few weeks. My book just needed to find its audience.
Plus, I had a lot of other things to be grateful for last summer. My kids all had wonderfully fun summers. I cultivated the habit of writing in a gratitude journal, a practice that has blessed me ever since. I discovered some new hiking trails. And I learned to have more faith that my Heavenly Father knows how I'm feeling.

So, as I continue learning to write, I also continue to learn to live. And so much of living is about the stories we tell ourselves.

How are you trying to rewrite your life?

8 comments:

  1. Sometimes the best perspective comes down the road a ways. I'm glad you kept writing because you like to write. I need to remember that too!

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  2. There were so many things that happened last year that I would love to rewrite but it does take time... I do look back at some of them and realize how much I grew and learned from all of it! And there were many blessings along the way too, even when some of them were in disguise.

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  3. You are so inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. Love this! Love how you are rewriting your own story. It takes courage to focus on the good things when they are intertwined with hardships. And I hear you on the reviews. Keep writing.

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  5. Last year was a hard year for my family as well. It seemed to me 2013 was hard for many people. I learned to rely heavily on my journal as I tried to practice Elder Eyring's admonition to write about the tender mercies of the Lord and how the hand of the Lord was manifested in the lives of my family. That engenders gratitude. The more gratitude we show, the more the Lord gives us to be grateful for. So glad to hear you are cancer free.

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  6. Thank you all for your comments and support!

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