I’m honored to introduce Marybeth Whalen to the Women’s Fiction Writers community! Marybeth is a She Reads co-founder and a very wise writer-friend. It’s easy to look at published authors and forget that they (we) did not enter this world with a novel tucked into our bunting. Every author with a published novel was once—wait for it—an aspiring author without one. Sometimes, at least for me, it’s reassuring to remember that. Yes, even with The Glass Wives out in the world, I’ve found one of the most helpful things is to remember that the process, the journey, the striving, never ends. Oh, and that means the angst never ends either. So when Marybeth sent me this guest post, I knew it was the right fit for Women’s Fiction Writers, and for me.
Marybeth is quite clear, moving forward in this writing life is not always easy—but it’s always worth it.
Please welcome Marybeth Whalen to Women’s Fiction Writers!
Author Marybeth Whalen Reflects On How Someday Is Now
There have been several surreal moments on my way to holding my first novel. Sharing it with an author I respected so much I got tongue tied. Pausing outside a Barnes and Noble with my publisher as she wrapped her arm around me and told me that a year from that moment my book would be on its shelves. Receiving endorsements from other authors and realizing they had actually read it, then shrugging off the urge to throw up with that thought. Discussing it with my husband in detail after he read it, and reveling in all his questions. Hearing about the marketing campaign on a conference call with public relations professionals.
Because the truth is, I am not a person who does such things. I prefer my jammies to most any other article of clothing. I like hiding out at home and typing thoughts into my computer… but am not sure those thoughts should be displayed for others to read. I dreamed of being a novelist all my life, but really doing it? That seemed like a dream for someone else. At any rate, a dream for someday and not now. I hid behind someday for a long time because someday was safe. The word someday was a promise I didn’t have to fulfill, a risk I didn’t have to take… yet. I could put it off for as long as I wanted, yet still hold onto my dream.
I would have hidden behind someday for the rest of my life if not for someone in my life who stopped letting me hide. One by one she plucked out all the excuses I had to offer and urged me towards “now” instead of “someday.” She held me accountable. She accepted no substitutes. She urged me forward and didn’t let me languish on the corner of Self Pity and Apathy. She was my friend while being my taskmaster—continually refocusing my vision on the end result, admonishing me to keep my eye on the prize, even when I doubted that a prize awaited.
When I met my friend Ariel, she was already pursuing the dream of becoming a novelist. She had already done the hard work of writing a novel and was in the process of finding a publisher while I was afraid to even write the first word. What if it was wasted? What if I failed? I would rather not try at all, than fail and know my dream was out of reach. If I never tried then I would never know. And yet, if I never tried I would never know. How could I stand to live in that dream limbo, Ariel wanted to know? Just do it, she urged me. “If I can, you can,” was her refrain. When I look back on it, I see how much I needed her prodding, her unrelenting pep talks. It was the difference between someday and now.
Someday is safe. There is no doubt about that. But someday is also boring. I am grateful for that person in my life who stopped letting me hide behind someday and whispered “Now.” An exciting adventure waited within that three letter word. I hope that this post will serve as that voice in your ear, nudging you away from the safety of someday and into the adventure that awaits.
Marybeth Whalen is the wife of Curt and mom of six children, ages college to elementary. The family lives in Charlotte NC. Marybeth spends most of her time in the grocery store but occasionally escapes long enough to scribble some words. Her most recent novel is THE WISHING TREE, was published June 4, 2013. Marybeth is the founder of She Reads, www.shereads.org, a site devoted to spotlighting the best in women’s fiction, and believes that story is the shortest distance to the human heart.