We Need More Hens

I was just thinking—that for me—this writing process has been a bit like a chick coming out of its shell. While I was safely tucked inside my fragile shelter, my protected ego was free to let my creative side grow, explore and write my story just as it came to me—sloppy and messy—but I was writing. I am author, I say, and this story is really, really good. But who am I saying this to? Inside my egg shell there is only me, myself, and I. Why was I spending a lifetime wearing out laptops to write this story if no one but me will ever read it?

When I finally decided to pick my way out of my shell and step into the big scary world of publishing, the first thing I learned was that I didn’t know sh*t about anything. I didn’t know the proper mechanics of writing a novel, nor did I have any idea of what was involved in taking a rough draft manuscript and turning it into an actual book. Reality slapped me across the face—really hard—and it left a red hand print. This was a tough chicken coop to survive in, much less be noticed. The publishing industry is brutal and it’s full of little chicks just like me.

So I did what any intelligent newbie should do; I took classes, attended seminars and conferences, took workshops, and pitched my story to agents that I knew were just waiting for me to show up with the perfect submission. I was going to be the next big thing to launch one of these agents into stardom. By signing me, they would discover their next blockbuster, break-away NYTBS series and debut author! (Oh, how naïve little chicks can be!)

I soon discovered as a middle-aged author who’s never published anything, I had as much a chance of becoming a NYTBS author as I did becoming the next Queen of England. I was living a fantasy, and I’ve yet to meet the right agent, so I realized real quick that if was going to stay in the game I had to grow some tough skin and work a hell of lot harder.

If I really believed that I had a story worth telling, then I needed to learn more. So I asked for help, which isn’t always easy for me. I know a lot of people are like that, and we hesitate to ask for help. But I look back now and realize that had I not asked, I wouldn’t be where I am at today.

So what does this post have to do with needing more hens you ask? Good question.

Peeking out of my protective shell for the first time, I saw a lot of hens, mature and established girls of the roost. They already had their books published, had launched their writing careers, and they were all eating their cracked corn from a golden trough. I was scratching the ground looking for any nuggets they might have dropped my way, and competing with all the other little chicks doing the same. It was hard to get close enough. I was just one frightened little chick that didn’t know how to survive in this race to the golden trough.

Fortunately, I found a willing hen to take me under her wing. This mother hen, I’ll call her Kay, gave me a few lessons on what I could expect if I chose to continue on this course. She invited me to her hen house and shared her journey with me as an author, and I drove home that afternoon wondering why anybody would want to put themselves through that. Kay literally scared the sh*t out me that day.

But not enough to make me quit.

I learned some more. Honed my craft and asked for help again; to the universe. I needed editors, or at least one, someone who could take my rough mess of a story and make it into a sparkling gem, something that will stand out amongst the millions of sinking stones that literally flood the market every day. Since there are no gatekeepers in the business of self-publishing, there’s a lot of crap out there. I was determined not to be a part of that slush pile.

Fortunately, the universe answered, with not one, but two fabulous editors and a talented book designer. With two books now published, I’m working on how to create my author platform and social media presence—the right way. Still learning, but now I’m getting closer to the golden trough and the nuggets of corn are becoming easier to find. My time roosting on the edge of that golden feed table is coming, and I’m not going there by myself. A lot of people (hens) have taken me under their wings in this journey, and for each and every one of them I am extremely grateful. But as I grow in this process, some of those earlier mentors I’ve also outgrown. They’d done their job. They had taken me under their wings for the time I needed it, and helped to guide me on this process.

When I do finally land on the golden feed trough, I’ll be looking over my wing for the next young chick looking for someone needing a lesson in life, some tutoring in writing, or just a little guidance. Because, isn’t that what we should all strive to do, help the next generation? Share our knowledge? And as writers, we learn, experience, and share that through the written word. If it ends up that I do it well, then kudos to me, and a HUGE THANK YOU to all of those who said; “You got something here, girl. Go for it.”

We need more hens.

Comments are closed.