Thursday, July 16, 2015

Why Catherine West Won't Quit #Writing

INSPY Award-winning author Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children. Catherine’s latest novel, Bridge of Faith, is now available on Amazon. Her next novel will release the summer of 2016, through Harper Collins Christian Publishing. You can find Catherine on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Google+, and Amazon.

Why We Don’t Quit

“I can’t do this anymore …”

I wonder if you’ve said that lately. Or at least thought it.

I have. And sometimes it’s true. Sometimes it’s really how you feel, and you don’t know what else to say. But the minute the words are out, you know you don’t really mean it. You know, despite the insurmountable odds, the closed doors and the brick walls that seem too high to scale … you can do this.

Let’s be honest. Writing is one of the hardest jobs out there. For many of us, the journey to publication is a dream we’ve held for years. We write because we love it, but we also long for the opportunity to share our work with the world. And some days that goal seems lofty. Some days you tell yourself it’ll never happen. And some days, well … you know what happens. Life takes over.

And the words won’t come.

I remember a time a few years back where I quit. I quit writing because I quit believing in myself. Rejection after rejection convinced me I’d never be any good at this thing, never get an agent, let alone one day get to hold my own book in my hands. The easiest thing to do would be to shut down the computer. Besides, my kids needed me, my husband needed me, and there were a lot of other things going on that demanded my attention. I was emotionally drained, discouraged, and ready to pack it in.

Have you been there?

Maybe that’s how you feel today. Maybe you think that walking away is easier. It’s not. Not if you really believe you’re called to this thing. Not if you know that God has given you this incredible gift – the ability to weave words into beautiful tapestries that touch the hearts and minds of readers and give them joy, hope.

So … we don’t quit.

But how … how do we write when we’re in the midst of battle? Surrounded by hard circumstances and situations we can’t control … how … when it’s all we can do to get out of bed in the morning … how?

I’ve heard that desperate cry in my head more times than I care to share. Trust me, I know. I know how hard it is. But I also know you can do it. And I can too.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

This used to be my biggest downfall. I’d be too worried about what people would think if I told them how I really felt. I refused to ask for help when I needed it most. Not anymore. Now I know the first thing to do when I’m in that hard place, is to reach out. First to God, but then to that trusted group of friends¾your prayer warriors, your confidants, your A-team¾oh, I hope you’ve got one of those. Because I have to tell you, when you’re in the midst of the storm, you need all those arms around you.

One day at a time.

Do what you can. Nobody says it has to be perfect. You just have to show up. Show up and write. Clear your mind of the clutter and see what comes out. If you’re on deadline, obviously you need to keep going with that story, but if you simply can’t … then just write a blog. Write a piece of flash fiction. Poetry. A letter to your grandmother or great-aunt. Anything. Just write. And don’t tell yourself you can’t, because you know that’s not true. Try setting a goal, even if it’s only a paragraph. Tomorrow it might be page. And then a chapter. Believe it’ll come.

Be good to yourself.

Take breaks. Go for a walk, work-out, watch a movie, go get some coffee with a friend, whatever you need to do to find joy. Because staring at a white page on the screen in front of you is no fun. And we want this to be fun, don’t we?

Remind me why I’m doing this?

I say this a lot. And my wise friends will answer, “Because you can’t not.” And it’s true. I’ve tried. Each time I want to give up, quit and never write another word, I get that yearning, that unrest in the pit of my stomach that says I’ll never be truly content unless I’m writing. I know now part of the reason I can’t quit is because this is who I am. I’m a writer. God made me this way. He’s given me the talent and He’s put me on this path, and provided amazing gifts along the way. How dare I try to refuse it!

Imagine a family, poor, hard-working, who want nothing more than to see their son succeed - he’s a straight A student and all his teachers tell them he’s capable of doing whatever he sets his mind to, so they save every penny they can, and finally have enough money to offer him the ability to attend college. And he turns around and tells them, “No thanks, I’m just going to roam the country aimlessly, pick up odd jobs when I can … it’ll be good.” You know?

Don’t refuse the gift.

Yes, there will be difficult times. We’re not promised cake and ice cream every day.
But we are asked to persevere. To be faithful. To be filled with faith and confidence, even when we feel empty inside. Do what you can today, trust God for tomorrow, and don’t ever, ever give up.

Have you wanted to quit lately?
Bridge of Faith

Two lives taken down different roads - one enduring love - one shot at starting over. If only they believed in second chances.

They say you can’t go home again. Sometimes you don’t have a choice.

After the death of her second husband, Julia Connelly is finally free to live the life she’s longed for. Free from twelve nightmarish years in an abusive relationship. Free to begin again.

Julia takes her two children back to her family home in Vermont, hoping for peace and healing. Instead, she encounters Reid, her high-school sweetheart—the man she eloped with at eighteen—who then abandoned her two months into their marriage, with little explanation.
Popular news correspondent, Reid Wallace, has his own problems. After an assignment in the Middle East goes horribly wrong, he ditches his career. He’s not sure what comes next and returns to his hometown seeking answers.

Confronting his past was not in the plan.

Seeing Julia again sends him into a tailspin, prompting even more questions. Like why the only woman he’s ever really loved still possesses the power to bring his world to a screeching halt. Why her haunted look makes his heart ache. Why he ever left her in the first place.

And why her twelve year-old son looks just like him.

They say you can’t go home again. Sometimes it’s the only place you’re meant to be. 


Jill Weatherholt said...

This is great advice, Cathy. Trusting God is easy, pushing aside that self-doubt is where I struggle. I'm so glad you didn't give up. I absolutely loved Bridge of Faith.

Catherine West said...

Thanks, Jill! Great to be on Novel Rocket today! I realized a while ago that giving up wasn't an option for me. :) What I had to figure what how to keep going and stay positive. Sometimes that is so hard, especially in today's tumultuous world. Glad you liked Bridge! Hope you will check out Yesterday's Tomorrow, and Hidden in the Heart. My next book will come out next summer with Harper Collins.
Thanks for reading today!

Ian Acheson said...

Cathy, love this. I've had many such days in recent times as you've described. Showing up each day is so important, isn't it and handing over your writing to God as you go. Incredible how the Lord can make something out what often appears nonsense on the page.

Thanks for the encouragement.

Catherine West said...

Glad you got something from it, Ian! Keep going!

Angie Arndt said...

Yes, I've wanted to quit so many times. In fact, it's almost a daily decision to keep writing, isn't it? So thankful that our Lord uses friends and craft partners to "talk us down from the ledge," pray for us and sometimes even "will" us to keep going.

Great post and I'll make a deal with you: if you keep going, I will :)

Catherine West said...

Deal, Angie! Thanks for sharing.