Friday, February 1, 2013

THE HELP YOU GET ALONG THE WAY--by Cheryl Pierson


Do you have a “collection” of special people in your life? People that helped you in ways maybe you hadn’t really given much thought to, but that turned out to be extremely important? One of the first milestones in my writing career—becoming a finalist in the EPIC Awards with my first novel, FIRE EYES—brought this realization home to me. I got curious. I know there are incidents in people’s lives that are pivotal to their entire careers, dreams, and goals, that, perhaps at the time, don’t seem that important. Later, looking back on it, it becomes an “aha” moment—you understand that THIS was the moment when you made the decision to do something you might not have done otherwise, or because of a word of encouragement you continued on when you’d been ready to stop.

Most people that I’ve met in the last half of my adulthood would never describe me as “shy,” but as a youngster, I was—horribly. That’s one reason I turned to writing. It was a great way for me to get my feelings out without actually having to say them. I could have someone else say it all for me.

I imagine that’s how many of my fellow writers started, too. I sometimes wonder what might have happened had we all known each other when we were younger. Would we have developed into the writers we are today, or would we have found our “niche” with one another and NOT turned so much to writing?

If you can relate to the “shy” part, then maybe you felt this way, too: I was never competitive. Not like so many sports contenders might be. The things I enjoyed, writing and music, were open to everyone, I felt. I am not a “joiner” and I am not one to enter a lot of contests. I entered FIRE EYES in the 2010 EPIC Awards competition, and something odd happened when I did.



From the moment I entered, my attitude about myself changed. BEFORE I entered, I thought, “I probably don’t have a chance.” But my mom always used to say, “If you don’t enter, you certainly are NOT going to win!” I remembered those words, and sent in my entry that very day. Once it was sent, I began to feel some confidence growing. As I analyzed WHY, here’s what I came up with.

FIRE EYES was a joint project. I wrote it, but I couldn’t have if I hadn’t had the cooperation and support of my family—my kids and my husband. While I was writing it, my oldest sister, Annette, was constantly asking about “how it’s coming” and she was the one I could bounce ideas off of. Once written, my business partner read it for glaring mistakes, and my best friend of 45 years read it for moral support. The Wild Rose Press accepted it, and my editor, Helen Andrew, was so phenomenal in helping me mold it and shape it into the story that was released last May. My cover artist, Nicola Martinez, did a superb job on the beautiful cover. My family and friends were all pulling for me, and constantly offering encouragement. With all these people behind me and my story, my confidence rose. Whatever would be, would be—and entering the competition was a win/win situation. Even if I didn’t make it to the finals, I would still have taken the chance and had the experience.

When I received the news that my book was, indeed, a finalist, I thought immediately of all the people who had helped me get to this point; people in my life who had faith in me, and in my ability, and in the story itself. I thought of that saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It’s true, even in the broader sense of our lives as writers. The experiences we had growing up, people who encouraged us even then, our spouses, our children, mentors and teachers we’ve had along the way, and peers that have helped and encouraged us. Editors, artists, publishers and organizations such as EPIC that give us a chance to compete and strive to be better and better, along with our readers, are all part of the completed circle of a successful writer’s endeavors.


Though FIRE EYES didn’t win that year, the experience of entering the competition and finaling in it was more important that I could have realized when I sent my entry in. It was the thing that made me understand just how many people had been involved in the entire process of writing that book. And it gave me the impetus and encouragement to move forward with the rest of my writing projects since that time. That realization was far more important than winning the contest, and has been with me every day, like a component of myself that I didn’t have before; another part of my make-up.

Since then, FIRE EYES has gone to a different publisher, WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER. With yet another great cover, this time by Karen Nutt, and a fantastic publisher, Rebecca Vickery, it’s once again seeing renewed success. But moreover, that’s yet another example of the help I’ve gotten on my writing journey.

Does anyone have a “special person” that helped them along the way? Not just in writing, but in your life’s goals and dreams? What about a “collection” of special people? My “collection” of special people in my life is the thing that I am most thankful for above all else. Without them, my dreams could have never happened. I could never have done it alone.

Cheryl's Amazon Author Page:
https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

21 comments:

Linda LaRoque said...

Hmm, I guess I'd have to say my husband. I popped of once while reading a romance and said, "I bet I could write one of these." His response was, "Why don't you?"
And so the seed was planted, but it took about 12 years of learning before I got published.

Congratulations on your first novel being an EPIE finalist. That is a real accomplishment.

Jerry Guin said...

Nice post Cheryl, believing in one's self plus getting the support of family, friends and business associates is a blessing indeed.
Jerry

Celia Yeary said...

Cheryl--I can honestly say, no one helped me. Except for my husband, who actually barely understood that I was writing novels, one after the other. No one knew I was doing this! I never had a dream of being an author--it just happened in my older years and I was having a blast doing it!
Of course, now my husband is my staunchest supporter. No member of of my family, not even my own children, care one whit about my books. Don't get me started there, or I will cry.

One family member wanted to read my books--beside my dh--and that was 9yrold grandson, who saw all my books stacked on his granddads' bookshelf in his office. He told me, Grandmother, I saw a stack of books in Granddad's study, and all of them had your name on them. Can I read them?" (this child is the most voracious reader you have ever seen.) I had to say,"No, sweetheart, they're books for adults. When you become an adult, you may read them.". Okay, he said, with his famous movie star grin that never fails to melt my heart.
Even when I decided to go to college at age 27 and with two young children, my only supporter was my husband. You see why we're so close? Everyone else in my family-my mother and my sisters--did nothing but criticize.
And so...I felt validated when I received my very first review, and it was a Five Star--I cried my eyes out. I still remember those words, and have that review safely saved in a special file.

Cheryl Pierson said...

Linda, that's great! My husband is my tech support guy, but as far as anything else--he's not much involved at all. That's so wonderful to have a cheeleading squad right there in your own home like that. Thanks for the congrats. I was so proud to have been a finalist!
Cheryl

Cheryl Pierson said...

Jerry, you're so right about how important it is, and what a blessing it truly is to have that support. I so often wish that my parents could have lived to see my writing accomplishments. They both passed away after I had sold a few short stories, but before I sold Fire Eyes.
Cheryl

Cheryl Pierson said...

Celia,
I do understand. It's so wonderful to have Jim to be such a staunch supporter and cheer you on. I've discovered that there ARE a lot of people who just don't "get it" -- and it really hurts when those people are close to you. But I think of all the wonderful people I've "met" who have become such good friends--even though I've never actually met them in person--and have given me such encouragement throughout the years.

I had an 8th grade English teacher who gave us the assignment of choosing one of 4 pictures she provided and writing a short story about what had happened. I will never forget the look on her face when she was glancing through them. We had to do it in class and turn it in at the end. When she came to mine, she was so enthusiastic. I told her I wanted to write more on the end but didn't have time. She said if I wanted to, I could do it that night and bring it back to her the next day. When I did, she read the whole thing to the class. "I predict Cheryl's going to be a writer someday." I will never forget that--it's all I'd ever wanted to be.

Thanks so much for coming by today, Celia. I count you as one of those dear friends who's helped me along the way.
Cheryl

Jacquie Rogers said...

My oldest daughter has helped me with publicity and is the only female in the family who enjoys my books. The men seem to like them better.

My husband is my staunchest supporter--my proofreader, my cheerleader, and my IT wizard. I have some friends, both in person and online that have kept me going. I have never stuck with one field for very long and usually lose interest about the time I get good at something, so most of my close friends are astonished I'm still plugging away. :) Bless 'em all for reading my books and telling me they like them (whether true or not).

Cheryl Pierson said...

Like you, Jacquie, my friends have been there for me in so many cases. Online friends as well as friends I'd known "back in the day"--I feel the same way--bless 'em all for saying they liked them. LOL
Cheryl

Patrick Dearen said...

The help . . . The idea . . . The moment . . .

I can point to one moment in time, 47 years ago in January 1966 when my 9th grade English teacher, Bob Bass, returned a book report to me with a note scribbled in the margin. It said:

"I like the way you have presented this material. Have you ever tried writing fiction? If you are interested in writing, I would be happy to help and advise you as writing is one of my interests also."

Little did he realize that he had created a monster. I went home and began my first novel that very afternoon. He had given a 14-year-old boy what everyone needs--a dream.

It's a dream I still live every day.

Cheryl Pierson said...

Patrick,isn't it a shame that some of the people we've known might not ever know how they've touched our lives? I think of that perfect line in Jackson Browne's song "For a Dancer"--"go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own, and somewhere between the time your arrive and the time you go, may lie a reason you were alive that you'll never know." We just never know what small kindness or remark might impact the life of another so remarkably. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting--I love stories like yours.
Cheryl

Keith Souter said...

I enjoyed your post, Cheryl. Sadly, I never had anyone tell me that I should become a writer, so I just plugged away on my own, following the dream.

Meg said...

Great post, Cheryl, and so true! I have to say the author Cheryl St. John helped Double Crossing -- she judged it in a contest waaaay back, and her kind words plus suggestions to do more research on Omaha really helped me see it wasn't "ready for prime time." And my daughter and long-time CP Sharon are both big time supporters and helpers as proofers and plot analyzers. :-)

What would we do without our "team" behind us?

Meg said...

I just read your story about the 8th grade teacher who predicted your success! WOW! fabulous. It's amazing how we struggle on, with or w/o help, and keep following the dream.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

This post really spoke to me. Like most writers, I fell in love with story telling when I was a child, but I didn't think anyone ever noticed until my senior year in high school. In front of an entire class of kids, most of whom I felt were better at everything than me, my teacher told the class that he had a student in his class that he felt would be a professional writer one day--and to my shock and utter joy, he said that pperson was me. He was the first person who recognized something special in me.
I've had much support over the years--sometimes from surprising sources. One person in particular helped me when I felt I had hit a real low, smothered by writer's block and self doubt and working with a publisher who wanted stories I didn't want to write. This person encouraged me to take a leap and submit my book to Rebecca Vickery and offered to edit it. She also helped me resolve a burdensome situation to set me free. That person was you, Cheryl. I will forever be grateful for your support and positive input.You're the best.

Cheryl Pierson said...

Keith,
I had two bosses through the years that told me I should become a hostage negotiator. LOL I'm glad I didn't follow their advice. No matter what happened in the early years, NOW you probably have a lot of people who encourage you and admire your work. I know one of them--ME. Your opening for WC Bloody Trail was just masterful, and I truly admire you for being such a "Renaissance Man"--you know so much about so many things, that writing is just 2nd nature to you, I think. I'm glad you "plugged away" and followed this part of your dream.
Cheryl

Cheryl Pierson said...

Meg, I know Cheryl. She is a gem. A very meticulous writer and one I admire very much. She's also kind-hearted and I don't think she'd tell a new writer anything that would discourage them because she's so positive. To me, it's amazing to sit back and reflect on people who might have said the smallest thing that encouraged us, and maybe they never even realized it.
Cheryl

Cheryl Pierson said...

Sarah...you brought tears to my eyes with your comment. You should NEVER run into writer's block or feel like you don't have a story to tell, my friend. You have a million of them, just waiting to me set free. You are a dear, dear friend and I wish we lived closer so we could meet in person. Your writing stands on its own, and I'm so glad I was able to help, and that Rebecca was, too. She knew a good thing when she saw it, right? LOL

I think it's so amazing what a good teacher can do for his or her students just by giving a word of encouragement here and there, don't you? I'm so glad you had teacher that recognized your talent and abilities and was there to give you that encouragement. I had at least one of those--my 8th grade teacher, as I mentioned. But I know there were others along the way as well. Thanks again for your comment. It means the world to me.
Cheryl

Renaissance Women said...

Wonderful post. The person who gets your book will be lucky indeed. I enjoyed it as you know.

I was a lucky one, both parents always told me I could do anything I set my mind to. That kind of beginning helps. I just have to get out of my own way.

Cheryl Pierson said...

Hey, RW! Thanks so much for those very kind words about Fire Eyes--I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

My parents, too, always told me I could do anything I set my mind to. They just wanted me to do something I could make a living at, and back then, writing wasn't an option. I always say, the three things a woman was expected to choose from then was secretary, nurse or school teacher. My mom's great dream was for one of the three of her daughters to become "an interpreter for the U.N."--I am sure there had been a big push for that since the U.N. wasn't very old at that time. None of us ever did.LOL

Cheryl

Ray said...

I never found the two English teachers who reckoned that I had it in me to write. But I never forgot them and I named them on my blog. My mum had more faith than my dad - just as well but dad was a western fan so the influence was somewhere else. Ex-girlfriends and my wife played their part. And when everything went pear shaped for me there was a group of guys who gave me a lot of encouragement.
They know who they are - and they know how grateful I am. Writing isn't always a lonely profession.

Cheryl Pierson said...

Ray, I'm glad to hear of yet another writer who was encouraged by teachers along the way. Friends, family, teachers--even fans that write to tell you how much they have enjoyed your stories--it all adds up to a whole lot of encouragement that we should always remember to "pay forward" with others, right? Thanks so much for your comment!
Cheryl