Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Remembering the Journey

by Julie Coulter Bellon

I love the sound of pattering rain on the roof. There’s something very relaxing about it and I stayed in bed for just a few minutes more than usual this morning to listen. I wished I could have laid there longer, but I had Mommy duties to attend to and got up. As soon as I had a free moment, though, I took my baby out to our covered porch and we just watched the rain come down. It was amazing watching her see her first real rainstorm. She held out her little hand and looked back at me, as if to say, “Look at that!”

It was one of those moments where I wanted to remember it forever. When I look back on my top ten little moments with each child, I want to remember standing there with her, in her innocent little baby-ness, and staring in wonder at the rain. But, as a mother of seven, I know I will probably forget. Unless I write it down.

Just like in my mother's journey, there are several first moments in my writer's journey that I want to remember and have written down somewhere.

The first time I finished a manuscript

The day I first submitted something (and told the poor post office teller all about it.)

The first time I got a rejection letter (and consoled myself with the fact that there was a spelling error in the rejection letter.)

The first time I got an acceptance letter (or email as the case might be.)

The first time I saw the cover of my book (and tried to decide if I loved or hated it.)

The first time I opened a box of my books (and was finally able to quit looking out the window for UPS trucks every five minutes.)

The first time I saw my book on a store shelf (and restrained myself from pointing out to everyone nearby that I was the author of that book and asking them to take pictures of me next to the shelf.)

The first time someone came up to me and said they’d read my book (and liked it.)

My first book signing

My first royalty check (and the celebration dinner that night.)

In my journey as a writer, these are little milestones I want to remember because they’ll never happen again. I will never recapture the innocent feelings I had as I sent my first manuscript off because my experience has changed me. I still get those giddy feelings every time one of my manuscripts is accepted, but there’s nothing like that very first time of holding that letter in your hands and wanting to simultaneously yell, laugh, and tell everyone you know. I try to do the writerly thing and keep a journal, but someone suggested to me once that you could write your feelings in the first book you take out of your author copy box and keep that as a remembrance. Or write something on your calendar and take a picture of it. The important thing is just to do something to remember that time in your life.

Like my little girl, holding out her hand as if to say, “Look at that!” maybe someday you are going to want to point to your journal, book, or calendar and say, “Wow, remember when I wrote that?”


At 4/09/2009 12:43 PM, Blogger Just_Me said...

Those sound like some good milestones... But there's a lot of life in between I expect. One of the hardest things in writing is remembering the time frame isn't ours. I'd love to finish editing the last 20 chapters of my book tonight, query tomorrow, and being rolling in a royalty check by my birthday in August. But that isn't the way it happens.

Those next twenty chapters are going to take another month or two. And then I have to write a passable query, synopsis, and everything else. And then probably edit again. And possibly again. And possibly a third time before I ever send out the queries or collect the rejection letters.

In between chapters I'm raising my children, adding our first boy to the family in late July, planting a garden, and getting ready to move this fall (after harvest!).

Those things are part of life too.All milestones in their own right.

At 4/09/2009 12:52 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Just Me, you're totally right. Obviously I didn't list every milestone that I could have, but I listed the ones that jumped out at me in my musings this morning. Writing is not an easy profession for sure. It's a lot of hard work with flashes of happiness thrown in. But I think we do ourselves a disservice if we don't remember the happy times to get us through the boring (editing for the millionth time) or difficult times (rejection) of being a writer.

Just my two cents.

At 4/09/2009 1:08 PM, Anonymous Chas Hathaway said...

Thanks for sharing this. It's encouraging. It's cool to me that despite rejections, rewrites, and headbanging frustrations that were likely in your journey, it's these positive moments that stand out in your mind.

- Chas

At 4/09/2009 1:15 PM, Blogger J Scott Savage said...

Great post, Julie. I love the sound of rain too. Mostly because it isn't snow!

Some of my favorite firsts:

First time I saw my book in a library along with all the other great writers I admire.

First time I saw someone reading my book who I didn't know, just out of the blue.

First fan mail.

First time someone asked me to autograph something. (A napkin at a Covenant breakfast.)

But there are still alot of milestones I get a great kick out of even though I've passed them before.

Nailing a chapter just the way I saw it in my head, and knowing it works.

Adding a character that makes me laugh.

Writing a scene that gives me goosebumps as I type it.

And something I stole from a Stephen King book and have done ever since. Having each of my family members write the last five words of the book before I type, THE END.

At 4/09/2009 1:47 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Jeff, I can't believe you didn't mention the first time you signed a fan's body part. (Arm) :)

You had some really good ones, though, that I totally agree with, and I love the Stephen King idea!

Chas, there really are a lot of positive moments that stand out in my mind and they really do get me through the frustrating side of being a writer. Thanks for your comment! :)

At 4/09/2009 1:47 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Julie, this is such a cool idea! I'm going to make my own list of writing milestones before I forget them!

At 4/09/2009 2:56 PM, Blogger LexiconLuvr said...

This is a beautiful post. One of my favorite movie lines is: "God is in the rain." I'm glad both you and your little one spent some time just loving the rain.

Your writing milestones (and those of the other writers in the comments) are all awesome. I'm looking forward to my own. Because of what you've said, I'm going to try and appreciate my milestones (in and out of writing) a little better.

At 4/09/2009 8:23 PM, Blogger Carolyn V. said...

I loved your post! I hope one day to be in that same place. I'm only at rejection letters (but I did frame my first one - hee hee hee).

At 4/10/2009 12:40 AM, Blogger Laura said...

Milestones. So far I've only done the rejection letter, the acceptance e-mail, and- here's a new one, the first proof. That was pretty cool too. I'm still waiting for the others. But I appreciated the idea of each thing being a milestone. Now I will look at the first book signing, the first time I see someone reading my book that I don't know, all those things a little differently. And I'll think of you guys, the old pros who have already had all those milestones. Thanks for sharing.


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