By Debora M. Coty
Shortly after my first three national magazine articles were published, a conversation with an acquaintance stopped me cold.
“Excuse me, did I hear that you’ve been published?” the wannabe writer asked, drawing her tall frame close to peer down at my short, stubby self.
“Why, yes,” I naively replied, smiling in anticipation of the accolade sure to follow.
“And what exactly qualifies you to be a writer?” (She knew I was a career occupational therapist.) “Did you take journalism classes in college?”
“Well, no …”
“Are you an English major?” she asked in an impeccably crisp tone. “Or Literature, perhaps?”
“Not exactly.” Had someone suddenly cranked up the furnace?
“Then how, may I ask, are you qualified to be a writer?” She stood glaring, arms crossed, and lips pursed.
For once in my life, I was speechless. Struck by a bolt of divine inspiration, I slowly shook my head. “I guess I’m not. You’re absolutely right. I’m not qualified to be a writer. But let me tell you something really funny – there are three editors out there who think I am.”
Yep, feeling qualified to write can be a real toe-stomper. Many aspiring writers start out enthusiastically pursuing their calling but begin to feel decidedly uncalled when they hit typical roadblocks: tenth draft depression, writers block, manuscript purgatory, writer envy, missed deadlines, critic crud, enough rejections to paper-mache a rhinoceros …
All writers – regardless of how “qualified” they are – encounter obstacles on their respective writing journeys. But the successful ones are the ones that persevere through the poo.
Hey, manure is just an occupational hazard of the profession. Writers, like jockeys, must simply wipe the poo off their boots, step over the piles and keep moving forward.
I was not only unqualified, I was a late bloomer, beginning my writing career at age 45 when my youngest chick flew the coop. Prior to that, I’d been an orthopedic hand therapist and piano teacher for 25 years, not exactly comprehensive training for a writer. But I was too stubborn (or stupid) to realize what I was attempting couldn’t be done.
Progressing from magazine articles to newspaper columns to books, I didn’t see a penny of profit the first five years. I was counseled countless times to give up; let the real writers write.
But after 10 years, 200+ articles, and 40 books, I began to see five-digit royalty checks. I was blessed with literary awards, numerous speaking engagements and the respect of the inspirational writing community.
Funny; no one calls me unqualified anymore.
So, I challenge you, my fellow sojourner, whatever pile of poo you’re currently struggling with in your writing journey, don’t let it suck you down. Keep high-stepping through the muck, remind yourself every day that you create your own qualifications and continue moving forward. No matter what.
Debora M. Coty is a popular speaker, columnist and award-winning author of over 40 books, including the newest release in her bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series, Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms. Deb lives, loves and laughs half the year in wicked-hot Florida and half in the cool North Carolina mountains. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at DeboraCoty.com.