A Writer’s Journey
I’ve been fortunate to have many building block opportunities, a network of family and friends who support me and a good education for starters. I’ve also had a few stumbling blocks along my journey. Some stumbles may have turned into builders, at times it’s hard to know which is which.
From the beginning, I loved to read, surely a building block for any writer. I visited the library each week and checked out two or three books. My mother told everyone that whenever she looked for me I had my nose stuck in a book. To be fair to my dear mother, I did sometimes hide in the closet to finish a few more pages, or read another chapter.
I decided to become a poet. Poetry meant rhymes. (I was very young). It didn’t matter if the words made sense, as long as they rhymed. I recorded my poems on scraps of window shade material. An example:
A spider climbed up a tree, and sat beside a bumble bee.
My mother thought the window shades and the poems were funny and displayed my work for relatives who came to visit. They had a good laugh. I never wrote another poem.
I took up journalism. I wrote an article for my high school newspaper about surviving homework. Many of my classmates and teachers considered the article clever. I felt good about it, until I overheard one girl say, “That Mary Kay is just trying to make the teachers like her. What a nerd.” Since I suffered from teenager-itis and I wanted to be liked more than I wanted to be a journalist, I didn’t write again until I reached my twenties.
If adversity (stumbling blocks) doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger (building blocks). I’ve heard that a lot. I came to believe the many stumbling blocks I experienced in my young life were building blocks in disguise, preparing me for the next stage of my writing career.
I wrote a historical fiction series and began attending Writers’ Conferences. I met interesting, helpful people and learned a lot about writing and publishing, strong building blocks. The first thing I learned: it’s not that easy.
At my first conference, I interviewed with an editor who expressed interest in my work. Early success? Nope. We emailed back and forth for about six weeks, until he informed me he was retiring. His successor concentrated on mysteries and had no time for Irish immigrant sisters and their adventures in America.
The following year, I made my pitch to an agent who looked increasingly unhappy as I talked. “Why is your book set in St. Louis?” she asked. “You need to change it to New York or California. Nobody wants to read about the Midwest.” As I crept away from her station, she added, “I love your jacket. The color looks good on you.”
The building blocks/stumbling blocks continued. A kind and helpful editor took time to show me in detail, the things I needed to add and the changes I needed to make to my work. Another agent seemed like a possibility for me, until I knocked over her water bottle and soaked all the papers in front of her. My all time favorite was the man who shouted (he had a booming voice): “Why is an old lady like you writing a book?”
Many times, I grew discouraged, but I had been strengthened along the way by all those stumbling blocks. The opportunities for growth continued, until one day:
God decided I had built enough blocks and led me to Mantle Rock Publishing.
PS: I’m still learning.
PPS: That guy really did yell.
Mary Kay Tuberty
The Carty Sisters Series
Keeper of Coin
Keeper of Trust
Keeper of the Flame