How I Launched My Writing Career

Toronto skyline, from Wikimedia Commons

Toronto skyline, photo from Wikimedia Commons

Almost exactly ten years ago, in late September 2005, I attended a three-day diversity training program in Toronto. The program, called “Women Supporting Women”, was sponsored by Procter & Gamble. Most of the attendees were P&G employees, though they had a few guests there like me.

The women attending the program learned about each other as individuals and as members of various races, ethnicities, nationalities, sexual orientations, and professions. Each of these dimensions was a part of who we were, but only a part. We learned about our similarities and our differences, about how far we had come in overcoming our prejudices, and about how far we still had to go.

As we talked to each other, of course, we discovered things about ourselves as well. One of the things I learned about myself was how important my creativity was to me, and how much I had stifled it for decades as I went through law school, the practice of law, and corporate management positions.

I knew I wanted to write, and it became obvious to me that if I was going to do so, I needed to get going on it. One of the attendees told me about The Artist Way, a book by Julia Cameron, which I have since read and which has been a tremendous help to me in rekindling my creativity.

At the end of the Women Supporting Women program, we each wrote a personal manifesto (though I think it was called something else). My manifesto ended

“And I will write a book before I die!”

About a year after I attended the program, I retired from my corporate job. I immediately launched into writing.

I wrote the first draft of a novel—my practice novel, I called it—during the first half of 2007. I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew I wanted to write, and so I did. The first novel I wrote was about a business in trouble and the people who led it. I wrote many drafts as I learned about story arc and point of view and developing characters, but I ultimately published that novel. (It’s published under a pseudonym, so I’m not naming it here, though I know some readers of this blog have read it).

LMH front cover finalBut the novel of my heart, the book I have wanted to write for twenty years or more, is the one I have just published—Lead Me Home: Hardship and hope on the Oregon Trail. I have always been fascinated with the courage and determination of the pioneers of the American West. Perhaps I see their physical journey as a metaphor for the life journey we all are on.

It has taken me ten years to fulfill my manifesto, but I have done it. And, boy, does it feel good!

I declared in late January of this year that Lead me Home would be publishable by Labor Day . . . And it was. It was not only publishable, but actually published on Amazon and on Barnes & Noble in early October.

A page from an early draft, with comments from my parents -- my mother marked a typo

A page from an early draft, with comments from my parents — my mother marked a typo

It also pleases me that my parents got to read an early draft of Lead Me Home. My mother could still read in the summer of 2010 when I gave it to them, though she had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She caught some typos in that draft. My father was a big help in critiquing it, and he pushed me to get it published during the five years between then and his death this past January.

I am sorry my parents did not live to see the book published, but I know they would be at least as proud of it as I am.

Along the way, I have discovered that Lead Me Home is just half of the story I want to tell. There will be a sequel. The sequel is drafted, but I have a long slog ahead in revising it.

So I’m not finished yet—I have more dreams to fulfill. But I’m taking a few days to celebrate publication of Lead Me Home.

What dreams are you proud of fulfilling?

Posted in Family, Writing.

13 Comments

    • So glad this was helpful! I have had to remind myself repeatedly of Julia Cameron’s message — just keep making small daily actions toward your goal. Even 20 minutes most days yields progress over time.
      I tend to want to see momentous progress every day, but the progress comes over the months and years.
      Thanks for reading,
      Theresa

  1. I too had a goal of writing — which I actually had done in my jobs for several decades, just not the sort of writing I wanted to do — when I retired. So I finally retired, and nine months later, what am I doing? Writing, but still not the kind of writing I want to do. More of the same kind of writing, albeit for worthy nonprofit organizations.

    I will attempt to make your words be a kick in the butt for me to get back to the writing I want to do. If I take your advice to make progress every day, even if it’s only 20 or 30 minutes, perhaps I will actually get there. So thank you.

    And in the meantime, congratulations! Such an achievement. And do please hurry up on that sequel….

  2. A wonderful achievement, Theresa. I’m so happy you’ve come so far!

    As for my dreams fulfilled?

    After Harriet Doerr published her first novel, Stones for Iberia in 1983 at the age of 73, I realized I still had time. I’d publish a book before I was 70, I decided. My first book, poetry, was published when I was 69.

  3. Congratulations, Theresa! I am so thrilled for you. In writing and publishing the book of your heart, you have accomplished a goal that will only remain on the bucket lists of many people. Is the book available in hard copy form? If so, I’d like to order a copy for my dad. He was born and raised in western Wyoming, another area of the country that is rich in Oregon Trail history. When I was in 6th grade, my class took a daylong field trip down a section of the Oregon Trail near my Wyoming hometown, with covered wagons and all! Congratulations. And good for you for taking TIME to celebrate!
    All my best,
    Kate Meadows

  4. Pingback: On THE ARTIST'S WAY and the Truth in Fiction | Theresa Hupp, Author

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