Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Beginnings Blogfest


Today is the day for the Beginnings Blogfest, hosted by L.G. Keltner in honor of her first blogoversary. Congratulations to LG!

The idea for this blogfest is simple. As LG wrote in her original blogfest post:
"In celebration of completing one trip around the sun since I started blogging, I want to give everyone a chance to write about a beginning that is important to them."
As I am a totally lazy blogger, I decided to share a post I wrote about this very topic last year around this time. The post was done for a guest spot on Misha Gericke's My First Book, and I wrote about my own writing beginnings.
My writing beginning came about at an age when many people are getting serious about planning for retirement. I'd never worried much about age before, but that changed when I turned 40. At a time when society says we are supposed to be happily settled and basking in the rewards of middle-age, I found myself feeling lost and unfulfilled, and wondering what on earth I could do to change what looked like a dull and uninspiring future.

I felt like I'd hit a low point, and I made the decision that I was going to make changes. I had no idea what those changes were going to be but, somehow, just making the decision felt like a step in the right direction.

I started reading all kinds of self-help books, but I quickly realized that I was simply reading as a means of putting off actually doing something. The reading was easy. The doing was the scary part.

Finally, I sat down and thought about what it was that I enjoyed doing. The answer came easily. From the time I was in school, the one thing I had always felt confident about, and had brought me pleasure, was writing. Whether writing papers for classes, writing letters, or writing academic articles as a librarian, I enjoyed all of it. In addition, since childhood I had loved constructing stories in my head about characters I saw on tv or read about in books. I never wrote them down; as I thought writing stories was something creative people did. And I wasn't creative.

If there was one skill I had mastered in life, it was saying “I can't,” or “I'm not.” Now that I had reached this low point, I thought I had nothing to lose by trying “I can” and “I am” on for size. If nothing else, I resolved to say “I'll try.”

My opportunity to put my words into action came about in a completely unexpected way. I discovered a show called Dog Town, which was about dogs at Best Friends, an animal sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. I fell in love with the place, and looked up their website. To my surprise, I found a listing for volunteer writers for their site. On a whim, I submitted an application.

Before too long, I had my first assignment, and wrote about people in Florida who had come to the aid of starving and neglected cats. I was so nervous when I submitted my article that I was afraid to open the response from the editor. But I had no reason to be afraid, as the feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive.

I felt buoyed in a way I never had while doing my “real” work. I wrote more articles, and continued to get wonderful feedback from both editors and readers alike. In addition, I was thrilled to be contributing to a cause I cared about, and helping both people I admired and animals I loved.

Suddenly, being a writer didn't seem like something I couldn't do any more. I went from “I'll try” to “What if?” What if I branched out and wrote for other outlets? What if I could actually get paid for doing this?

“What if?” became “I will,” and that was my beginning. Now nearly two years later, I feel like I've finally found the passion and sense of fulfillment I'd been missing for so long. And even though I still have a long way to go to be able to support myself with writing, the small amount of money I have made has been worth its weight in gold. What's more, the personal rewards have enriched my life in a way no amount of money ever could.

So my advice to would-be writers is simple. Begin. No matter your age or experience, there’s never a wrong time to get started. It may seem frightening, but take that first step. Volunteer, write a blog, or sit down and start that novel you’ve always wanted to write.

The step you take is up to you. The important thing is to begin.

36 comments:

  1. Loving these 'Beginnings' posts already. I learn so much about my writing friends!

    It's funny how all it takes is one person to tell you that something is possible, or one opportunity for you to show it, and you're off and running sometimes. That's why I insist on never wasting a chance to encourage someone. You never know, you might be the one to trigger something great in their lives.

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  2. What is it about turning 40? :) I felt a lot of those same feelings and that's how my Year of Yes started, so I hear you, Julie. Good for you! You should be proud.

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  3. It's great you found what you really love and that you've become an "I will" person! Good luck in 2013!

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  4. Love your story and your advice . . .to begin!

    Thanks for sharing!

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  5. I just turned 45 and it's scary just how much I can relate to how your story started.

    You're right, it's -never- too late and I love your advice.

    Begin.

    Great stuff and thanks for sharing!

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  6. Really nice post Julie. I think so many people make their own roadblocks.

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  7. Great advice!
    There is nothing worse than thinking "If I had only..."

    I have failed at a number of things I have tried, but I happy I tried them!

    --
    Tim Brannan
    The Other Side
    The Freedom of Nonbelief

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  8. I'm glad you shared this. It's great you found that sense of fulfillment in your writing. Your advice is spot on too. It's never too late to begin. You just have to decide that you will.

    Thanks for participating in my blogfest!

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  9. I've loved these posts today. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  10. What a great story! I love that you made your love of writting come true and in such a short time as well. Did you have an outline of what you wanted to do? Did you have parts of stories that you put together for your book? How did you come up with your first novel idea? I would love to learn it all.

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  11. This is inspiring. And your wish to help animals is too! congratulations!

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  12. @EJ, thanks! And I totally agree. I've never understood how some people try to discourage others, I would encourage anyone to go out and try.

    @Madeline, I love your Year of Yes! Thanks so much.

    @kmckendry, thank you! And good luck to you as well. :)

    @Tyrean, thank you!

    @Mark, thank you, I'm so glad to meet you!

    @Johanna, thanks!

    @Timothy, I agree. I had a lot of "if I only had..." before I finally decided to just do something.

    @LG, this is really a great fest, thanks for hosting it!

    @Rebecca, thank you, I've really enjoyed the posts today as well.

    @LynnMarie, oh, I actually had a dream that led me to the idea for my novel! I didn't have any kind of outline, no, I'm terrible at organization LOL. It all just kind of came together. Thanks so much!

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  13. @Al, oh, thank you! Always great to meet another animal lover, thanks so much. :)

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  14. Hi Julie - So pleased to meet you! Kanab? Do you live in Utah? I live in St. George...funny thing, I used to write for Chihuahua Connection Magazine before they went out of business--I'm a dog-a-holic. Good luck with your book release!

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  15. Age doesn't matter! I didn't begin until in my forties either.
    One article about rescued cats - now look where you are!

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  16. Age doesn't matter with writing. I think age helps make a richer story.

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  17. I so agree with above comments. Age does make the writing deeper and richer. As does everything else with experience.

    Congratulations on all your achivements and all the best for 2013!

    Nas

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  18. Yay!! Never too late. I'm older than you are and I'm still "aspiring" to reach that goal, but I know age won't stop me. This is a big milestone year for me, so I hope to make it the beginning of a new chapter (pun intended :P) in my life.

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  19. @Amy, oh, no, I just volunteered virtually so I've never been to Kanab, but I'd love to see Best Friends some day. So glad to meet you, it's always great to meet a dog-a-holic! :)

    @Alex, I agree, it doesn't matter. Thanks so much.

    @Mary, that's a good point, I do think experiences can help sometimes with that.

    @Nas, thanks so much, I hope you have a great 2013 too!

    @Luanne, oh, I hope this year will be the best one yet for you. Fingers crossed! :)

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  20. That's really the best advice you can give an aspiring writer. Just begin. That's what I did as I didn;t have anyone to help or ask advice. All of that came after I began writing.

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  21. Great post. Yeah, I think as long as we're still above ground, it's never too late to pursue a dream. I was guilty of thinking, "Someday I'll get serious about writing." And, "Someday I'll stop doing all this pro bono stuff." "Someday, someday, someday..." Then one day, a newspaper article described a woman who was younger than I was as "elderly", and it finally dawned on me that I was running out of "somedays". Talk about a wake-up call. I decided, okay, so I may not be a spring chicken anymore, but I can still lay a golden egg or two before I hit that deep fryer in the sky. Hopefully, my first egg... er, book... will be launched this year.

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  22. Great story. It's amazing how few people give credit to their writing and think of it as a possible career until they have already lived one life.

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  23. Fabulous story. I love your advice. It sounds so simple, but sometimes it's the hardest thing to do. I've always wrote, but it was hard putting myself out there.

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  24. Good for you, Julie. I agree with you about the middle age thing. I understand a little better why people do the midlife crisis thing. (I guess my decision to become a writer could be just that. LOL)

    Thanks for visiting my blog. :)

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  25. We're supposed to be basking? I totally missed that memo. I think they tell us were supposed to be basking, but we're all doing the mid-life lost and unfillfilled thing instead.

    Good luck with your novel. :)

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  26. I'm having my 40's moment early at 34. Not sure where it will go, but something needs to change.

    A great "beginnings" story - I really enjoyed it.

    Visiting from L.G.'s blogfest. Nice to meet you!

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  27. so many what ifs to worry about! just gotta do & deal with what comes!

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  28. Your post is great! I'm glad you got started in writing. There really is nothing like it, in my book! :)

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  29. This is a great beginnings post, and such great advice. You can't achieve anything unless you actually begin.

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  30. My husband and I were just discussing this topic this morning. I'll be 45 this summer. And I'm starting graduate school in a week part-time. If I take one class at a time, I won't be done until I'm 50. When I said that to my husband, he jumped as if I had punched him or something.

    I assured him it's OK. When I'm 50, I can teach freshman English at the little college around the corner part-time. I can get in 15 years before I retire. 15 years is plenty. If I write just one novel a year, I'll have 20 more done by the time I hit 65.

    We decided I must be on the other side of my mid-life crisis. :)

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  31. @Stephen, I totally agree, and I'm glad you started writing too!

    @Susan, oh, I can totally relate to the "someday" thing. I hope your book will be launched soon, how exciting!

    @AJ, that's a good way to put it, living one life or maybe even more. I guess many people experience the same thing. Thanks!

    @Christine, thanks!

    @Melissa, thank you! And I agree, the midlife crisis thing made a lot more sense to me when I turned 40!

    @Jean, LOL, you're so right. I know I got caught up in what society tells us we should be doing, and I felt completely removed from that! Thanks for the good luck wishes!

    @Azara, thank you! And I hope you will find what you are looking for soon. I'm so glad to meet you as well!

    @Tara, thank you!!

    @Trisha, thanks so much, and I totally agree.

    @Laura, thank you, I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

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  32. @Tonja, good for you for starting grad school, that's awesome! And I had to laugh at your husband jumping like you'd punched him LOL.

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  33. Great story. It's so easy to not put yourself out there, but it usually pays off!

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  34. Thank you for sharing your beginnings, as both a supporter of animal rescue and an aspiring writer, your post was very inspirational!

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  35. @Annalisa, thanks! And you're so right, it's definitely not easy but then the alternative of doing nothing won't get you anywhere.

    @T, oh, I'm so glad so feel that way, thank you!

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Thank you for your comments!