The Thrills Of The Writing Life

The swoosh of warmth greets me as I step into the bookstore. I breathe in the delicious scent of paper and ink. For a long moment, my feet won't work. I'm frozen in the entrance and my gaze sweeps across the shelves of books.

"I can't believe it," I murmur to my husband. "My book is going to be on one of these shelves next fall."

His eyes light up. "Kids, your mom is going to be a famous author."

"Don't say that." But my smile widens.

The children are already dashing away, my husband's words hardly impressing them. They can't begin to grasp the significance of what it means have a lifelong dream come true, not when their own dreams are still just whispers.

I browse the fiction aisle, finger the glossy spines, reading the names of the authors--many who are no longer strangers. Some of them are now even friends. My heart speeds up with a thrill of excitement. Is it possible my book will brush covers with these in mere months?

I pull out the other Bethany House books and look at them with new eyes. How many times in the past had I stood in that exact spot and never thought to care about the various publishers. All that had ever mattered before was the cover and back blurb.

But now I browse with driving curiosity, fascinated to discover which authors belong to Zondervan and which ones are with Tyndale. Mostly I'm interested in who's in my Bethany House family. I feel connected to them in a strange new way.

I glance sideways at the other shoppers in my aisle. I wonder if they can read my satisfied smile. Does it announce to the world that I'm an author, that soon they'll take my book from the shelf? Even if they don't buy it, they'll touch it, hold it, and see a small piece of me.

Tears prick my eyes. I'm sure the other shoppers see me as nothing more than an overly emotional, somewhat strange mother of five noisy children. But the thrill of imagining my book on the shelf and in their hands is a gift--a reminder that all of those insecurities are worth it.

Yes, writers face insecurities. I shared mine in the last post. Thank you for sharing yours. Your honesty and openness touched me more than you can know. I'll treasure your words of encouragement far into the days to come.

The self-doubts are overwhelming at times. But if we cling to our dreams, if we give ourselves permission to imagine the thrills we'll feel when our dreams come true, then hopefully we'll find the determination to keep going against all odds.

What dreams do you cling to? Or what thrills have you experienced lately in your writing journey that have encouraged you to press on?


  1. Oh... your bookstore story is SO familiar to me! Sometimes I DON'T go just because I stand there, and the want becomes so high it's almost unbearable.

    Thrills... Finishing my 2nd book was a thrill, and a huge validator. My editing challenge with Sherrinda is a thrill too:-) Besides that... I've been praying really hard that God would continue to confirm that I'm on the right path. He's always put little stones on the path, just to remind me that I'm doing it, I'm on my way, I'm obeying Him.

    But it's been a while since I've seen a stone... and even though I know... *sigh* I think we all know the waiting is hard. Stepping stones are SO very nice from time to time! They give you that next burst of energy that helps you to carry on for a little while longer.

  2. I have dreams when I go into a bookstore, hopeful that I'll see my book up there someday. Hopeful that my wife will say the same thing to our kids that your husband said to yours. Congrats on realizing your dreams.

  3. I've never gone that far to imagine a book with my name on the cover on the shelves. Don't plan to go there until I sell. What I dream about is coming to the point of finally being satisfied with my stories for more than a couple days in a row.

  4. I find that my faith that God truly wants me to write is tested daily, sometimes every few seconds. I've almost quit several times, but that only lasts about forty-six minutes or so. Then I sit down and start writing again even if it's only for the few minutes I have between homework and dinner.

    I dream of the day that I can write on a more consistent schedule, when I can say that's what I do for a living. But, I'm not wishing time away. It will happen when it happens on God's schedule.

  5. Thrills of late: Editors have been accepting my nutty stuff. There is nothing better than being true to your creative drive and instinct (no matter how out there) and having people enjoy it.

    Dream: I'd love to publish a short story collection of paranormal romance. Sweet love, kooky love. *squee*

    Great post. :)

  6. You touched my soul this morning. I have had those thoughts, expressed those hopes and fears and I understand. I do.

    Did you find the exact spot on the shelf where your book will go? I've done that - it's a thrill.

  7. Love your bookstore post! I was there with you fingering the books and smiling with joy at the anticipation of seeing yours there!!

    My dreams are to continue my short story writing and continue to get published/win writing contests. Perhaps some day I will publish an anthology or be a part of someone else's.

  8. I cling to the dream of publication. I stoke the fire of that dream in the depths of my imagination every single day. I surround that dream with positive energy as I lay on the couch in the evenings, one dog sprawled across my chest, and the other across my feet, and listen to music. I keep that dream close to my heart every time I sit down to write . . . whether a single word, a sentence, or 5,000 words over the course of a Saturday.

    If we give up our dream, if we fail to imagine all the possibilities (too bad Oprah's going off the air, because I always imagined her naming my book as a Book Club Selection - seriously), then why are we suffering through the angst and insecurities, the constant battles of self esteem, and the obsessive moments of inspiration (in the shower, on the interstate, or anywhere where a pen and paper isn't handy)?

    Imagination is the key to our creativity, and I think it is also the key to our eventual success.


  9. I just read Eileen's comment and say "ditto". :-) I struggle most right now with being satisfied with my stories on a daily basis.

  10. What a thrilling time this is for you! Congratulations! I am excited for you, and can't wait to read your book. I review for Bethany House, so maybe it will make the review list. And if not, I am going to go out and buy it! Blessings to you and your readers:)

  11. Jody: What a fun post! I think we all share in that dream of walking into a bookstore and seeing our name on the spine of a book or two or ten.

    My dream is to have someone walk up to me on a street of glassy gold, take my hand and say, "I am here because of something you wrote (or said)."

    Keep dreaming, Sweetie!

    Audience of ONE

  12. I get such a rush whenever I see my words in print. And, if I get positive feedback to boot...Well, it's like fireworks on the 4th of July, the biggest gift for ME under the tree, and my pre-teen son saying, out of the blue, "Love you Mom!." THAT keeps me going through the self-doubt!

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  14. Love your blog, Jody, and this post makes me smile. I've had all those same feelings. And it really is surreal to see your book on a shelf. It's also pretty overwhelming (and disheartening) to realize that the book you poured your heart, soul and time into is just one of thousands and thousands and that most people won't even notice it on the shelf.

    I love the roller coaster of emotions that is the writing life. Humility, satisfaction, discouragement, warm fuzzies, fear, elation, doubt--it all goes together. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

    I'd love to have you guest post on my blog soon if you're up for it!

  15. LOVE, LOVE this blog!

    Oh, God gives me His golden moments every day, if I will just open my eyes and listen for His ways, not MY ways.

    Like tomorrow. I'm driving to a tiny hamlet somewhere east of Normal at the invitation of an 80-year-old lady I met at a book signing.

    What's the occasion? The Christmas open house of Goosecreek Township Carnegie Library. Can you imagine? And they have a sigh up and EVERYTHING.

    Oh, the places you'll go. The people you'll meet. The stories you'll hear...then tell.

    A pearl held out by the Master for the writer.

    Savor every minute...even the bad!!!

  16. I can't wait to scan my eyes across the shelves and find your slide your book out, walk up to the counter and purchase it. I can't wait to read your work--your dream realized.

    Sometimes my husband and I go to B&N for our date nights (I know, we are soooo wild and crazy!) and I look in the M's to see where my fiction work would go. My dream is that someday I won't just go to envision my book there, but instead I'll see it there and thank God.
    ~ Wendy

  17. I remember doing the exact same thing while I was writing my book. I'd go to the bookstore and imagine it on the shelf. At my book launch, when it was actually there, it was hard to take it in. Amazing feeling.
    Now the thrills are giving a talk tomorrow on intuition, which is what my memoir is about. And being interviewed for National Memoir Writers Association, those kinds of things. And especially when someone says my story really spoke to them.
    So happy for you, Jody. Enjoy the ride!

  18. I think the feeling of excitement keeps on going!

    My kids have gotten kind of blase about the whole writing thing now, so *I'm* the one getting the thrill at seeing my books on the shelf. :)

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  19. I cling to the hope that I will be published. And I can't let that dream die. It's too meaningful. Though most of my kids and extended family have given up that I will be published. Except for Christopher and Ivy. The hubby hasn't. He keeps me going. Him and all my blogging pals.

    Against all odds. *she gives Jody a virtual hug* I can't wait to feel as you did in the bookstore Jody. Woohoo! As I read this post, I could feel your joy as you touched the books and thought about your own book soon to be among them. Thank you for sharing that with us. :)

  20. Ah, yes, I know about walking into the bookstore and trying to find the spot where MY BOOK will eventually be shelved (for both of us, it's under "H"!)

    Periodic agent interest is keeping me going right now...

  21. I love the feeling of walking into a book store and hoping that maybe one day, I will be in there too.

  22. One dream I still cling to is being a mom.

    With regards to writing, what recently encouraged me was when I was working on the character synopses for my WIP, I discovered there is a second book in the series waiting to happen too!

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  24. Is there anything better than a bookstore for an author?

    I've gone to bookstores and wandered the aisles, dreaming of the day my own book would grace the shelves. I even found the spot between Marylu Tyndall and Susie Warren where my own last name would fit. :)

    The beautiful thing about dreams coming true is you get to grow a whole new crop.

  25. I can relate, Jody. Though I'm not as far down my path as you are yours, I can feel the pull and motion. And it's just as you've described it.

    Every step gives me a thrill, whether it's finishing a chapter in my first draft, finding an encouraging comment from a fellow blogger or feeling another's words so deeply (like yours). All thrills.

  26. Actually I'm not sure where this tenacious drive towards publication comes from other than perhaps fro the Lord. Oh how I loved this post. Thank you for finally giving us a true flavor of your writing. Now i CANNOT wait to read your novels. Um...I'm getting an ARC right? ;)

  27. "I browse the fiction aisle, finger the glossy spines, reading the names of the authors--many who are no longer strangers. Some of them are now even friends."

    I know that feeling well. Sometimes I go to the bookstore just to gather myself. Find comfort from hectic lives. I also find it is best to put my insecurities away on a shelf. Otherwise they take over.

  28. Oh girl, it was wonderful to read this. You know that funny feeling in your chest you get sometimes? I'm having it. I've felt how you did, and I don't even have a contract. But that dream of publication is so alive to me that it feels real. What an exciting time for you! :-)
    One thrill I just had was winning a crit from an author who gave me some compliments and encouraged me to submit to her publisher. That was a real pick-me-up for this wip, since it's such a struggle to write it.
    Which, I guess, I need to go do now. :-)
    Have a great weekend! ;-)

  29. Dear Jody, we use this word often when describing one another's posts, but this was...beautiful! I love, love, love how you can spin insecurities one day into realized dreams the next. Indeed, that is life in abundance. We wouldn't appreciate these sweet moments nearly as much if not for the moments of doubt. When the affirmations come, they are extraordinary gifts. You are such a gift to me, Jody. I am so grateful for you, and I am loving the chance to journey with you in this way. Have a satisfying weekend! Keep the dream alive.

  30. Finishing first drafts are definite thrills. I love when I'm editing and get taken away by my own story. So fun!

    I'm so happy for you, Jody! And I can't wait for my day to come too!

  31. Jody, I love this bookstore dream. I love even more that you're sharing it with us and I can totally relate.

    Your blog was one of the first I ever started following, way back in January when this journey (at least the blogging journey) was new to me. And even back then you were always such an inspiration. It makes me so happy that you're working toward your dream and that I will get to see your books on the shelves in the near future. I can't wait!

  32. What a beautiful emotional time for you. Thanks for sharing with us! :O)

  33. Wonderful post and so inspiring.
    My big thrill lately is writing. I know weird but it’s just flowing and that is really cool.

  34. Bookstores have new meaning for me now. A home I long to inhabit.

    Imagining my book on shelves gives me extreme passion to work. I fancy being among all of you in the shelves of Barnes and Nobles.

    My pray everyday is to work to makes this dream a reality.

  35. My dream is standing where you stood in that bookstore, feeling the same emotions!

    Thrilling thing? Your last post. It filled me with a positive energy!

  36. Hi Jody -

    I can see you're putting many dreams into your writing hope chest. :)

    While my books aren't published yet, I've had devotionals and short articles on the Net and in print. It's exciting to hold an anthology in my hands and know my story is nestled within its covers.

    Have a great weekend.

    Susan :)

  37. Every time I'm in a book store or library, I get a vision of my book being on the shelf. It's thrilling. I can't wait until it actually happens.

  38. I feel the same way you do when I step into a bookstore, and it inspires me to write. I would love to see my book on the shelf one day.

  39. I absolutely love bookstores and take every opportunity to browse and buy (and dream a little). One of my favourite moments was when I was in Chapters picking up an extra copy of a magazine in which an article of mine appeared and the checkout clerk asked me my opinion of the magazine. When I said I thought it was excellent but might be a wee bit biased because of having an article in it she gushed, "Really? Show me the article. One of the best things about working in a book store is the occasional chance to meet the authors. What else do you write?" We went on to have quite a long conversation and I came away buoyed by the encounter.

    My dream? Finding an agent and getting totally submerged in the same process you're going through. First, however, I have to push myself to do the querying!

  40. Jody, I look forward to seeing your book on the shelf of my local Borders. When I do, I'll feel that thrill I do every time I see a writing friend's name on a spine. And, yes, I'll caress your cover in public hoping someone will ask why so I can tell them about you and your amazing journey.

    Oh! I just realized something. When (gotta be positive here) I get published, our books may be on the same shelf since our last names are fairly close. Now, that's exciting!

  41. Big smile, and I am just getting to learn about you. You just have such an authentic warm something.

    I will look for your book when the time comes. How surreal.

    And I've been encouraged by bloggers in such a way that I never could have imagined. Wherever it leads, I'm fine with it. This writing part of myself that I thought I lost is gift enough.

  42. I can't wait to walk in the bookstore and buy your book right off the shelf! And yes, I do make a bit of a display of it. I might yell out, "This is my friend's book!"

    Have a great weekend!

  43. What a great moment for you. :) I got all teary-eyed just reading about the first time you walk in and see your book on the shelf. Congrats!

  44. I love this dream! So many times, when I walk into a book store, I'm overcome by the sheer number of hours, tears, doubts, and fulfilled dreams the building encompasses. It's pretty crazy. I can't wait to pick up your book from the shelf, Jody!

  45. I am so enjoying following your journey. You are where I hope to be - soon. Thank you for your generosity of spirit and for the amazing writing that makes your stories so easy to read. I will smile, too, when I see your book on the shelf. Then I'll buy one.

  46. I can't wait to walk into a book store and pull my book off a shelf. I look forward to holding it in my hands and thumbing through the crisp clean pages.

    ahhhhh what a pleasant dream! I can't wait till yours comes true!!!!

  47. I am so proud of you! Can't wait to hold your book in hand and when I take it to the cashier, say, " She's my friend!" I love reading all about your process and progress. It builds up my enthusiasm! Thanks Jody!

  48. Right now, I can't even imagine how thrilling it is to walk into a bookstore and KNOW that this time next year your book will be on those shelves.

    Awhile back, I posted a small excerpt of my work in progress. I got great feedback from that. But, more importantly, I still get the occasional comment from a reader telling me that they can't wait to read my book. That's what keeps me going. It's my dream and I want to finish the book and get it published for myself. But now I have other people that care about it too. How can I let them down?

  49. Wonderful dream! I kind of had that happen in a small way one day. My daugter and I walked into Barnes and Nobles and I found the Chicken SOup books. We pulled out one that held my story and it felt really nice to know that something I'd written sat there among all those books.
    But I would prefer an entire book if God sees it in my future:)
    I can't wait to find yours!

  50. What an exciting place you are in right now, especially with your publication date on the calendar! I think to some extent, all of us are somewhere along the same journey, with that same vision in sight.

  51. What am amazing moment for you, knowing your book is going to be on that shelf. :)

    I read an article a while back that said you should go into the bookstore and stick your finger in the space where your book would be filed, which I thought was a such a great positive-thinking way to go about it, so that's what I do.

  52. I remember when the likes of published authors, whose only link to me was their glossy paperbacks, were faraway mystical beings. It *is* a bit of a shock to discover that they're regular, everyday folks who make a wonderful pack of friends!

  53. I've had that bookstore moment too, but it was still just a fantasy. YOUR BOOK WILL ACTUALLY BE ON THOSE SHELVES NEXT YEAR!!! That is such an accomplishment. I'm so excited for you.

  54. Oh, I right there with you . . . in my own dreams.

  55. Good for you! Every time I go to Borders I check out the shelf where I hope my book will. I know I'll be riddled with self-doubts and nerves when my book goes on submission. Be prepared to be bothered by me frequently at that point!

    And, five kids? Seriously?
    Wow. You are even more amazing than I thought. Do your children realize how lucky they are? ;-)

  56. I love bookstores. I love date nights in bookstores. I love alone times in bookstores. I love looking for authors I know in bookstores. I'll love finding your book in the bookstore. I haven't really envisioned my book in a bookstore. But now I will.

    Did I say I love bookstores?

    Anyway, I recently wrote on my blog about discovering a green card that a speaker sent me a million years ago. She told me I had a gift. What a thrill. Fanning that flame!


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