In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Rest of the Story--Well, Really, the Reason There is a Story At All

"Writing is a solitary occupation. Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of the writer."
 ~Jessamyn West, writer

Landing my book contract wasn't a solo act.
I don't agree with Jessamyn West putting a "Wanted" poster on anyone who might interrupt her writing life. Yes, there are times when it's just me and my work-in-progress (WIP). But I'm surrounded by family and friends who helped me achieve my writing dreams. And I thank God for each and every one of them. For brevity's sake, I'll focus on the other writers I've met along the writing road.
Roxanne and Me 

Three years ago, I had this secret. I was writing fiction--and no one except my husband knew. And then one day I called my longtime friend and writing buddy Roxanne Sherwood and confessed, "I'm writing a novel." She didn't laugh. Didn't gasp and say, "You can't do that! You write nonfiction."
Nope. Roxanne cheered me on. Told me I could do this. She even volunteered to read my first feeble attempts at telling Allison's and Daniel's story, helping me improve each scene.

Fiction Critique Group: Mary, Me, Donita and Evangeline

The next person I whispered my secret to was bestselling author Donita K. Paul, a fellow Colorado Springs resident and friend. She surprised me by inviting me to join a critique group with her, her daughter Evangeline Denmark (also an author), and Mary Agius, another writer. They were the first ones to read my novel aloud. They pretended not to notice when I sat on the couch during the first meeting and shook--literally shook--while Donita read the first five pages of my story.

The MBT Ponderers
And then I met award-winning author Susan May Warren at an ACFW conference. Fast-forward to the first MBT Storycrafters Retreat, where I learned the fundamentals of story and tore my novel apart. Romantic suspense became contemporary romance. Fifty thousand words downsized to twenty thousand. Suz answered my unspoken prayer for assurance when she looked at me and said, "You can so write fiction!"
I also met the Ponderers--eighteen women from all over the country who bonded over writing. (And that's another blog post.)

In the past year, one of a kind author Rachel Hauck, aka Madame Mentor, came alongside me too, challenging me to write a deeper story as I worked on my second novel. Rachel won't let me settle--and for that, I'm thankful.
These are the writers--the women I am humbled to call friends--who helped me turn burnout into an amazing dream come true.
Talk about beauty from ashes.

Rachel, Me and Suz

So while Jessamyn West may insist on solitary confinement to write, I choose to embrace the amazing community God's provided for me.  I'm a better writer for it--I've found a place where I'm accepted and where my dreams flourished.

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At 6:22 AM, Blogger Katie Ganshert said...

Beautiful post, Beth! And oh so true! The MBT community is SO supportive. Wish I could go to one of those retreats!

At 7:24 AM, Blogger Catherine West said...

Me too!! I think I like Jenness' suggestion on the MBT Ponderers interview she did with me - everyone should come here!! But until then, I'll settle for waiting until conference in September to see you all! Congrats again, Beth!!

At 8:11 AM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Good morning, Katie & Catherine! Glad you stopped by the blog!
And for those who didn't know, Catherine is interviewed today over at the Ponderers' blog:

At 9:30 AM, Blogger Rachel Hauck said...

So proud of you Beth!!! Can't wait to see what God does with you!


At 9:36 AM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Thank you, Rachel! And thank you for being my friend, my mentor--and for believing in me!

At 11:27 AM, Blogger Evangeline Denmark said...

The truth is, I would be the kind of writer who puts wanted posters on friends and family--sometimes I AM that writer--but God knew I wouldn't have the strength to do this journey alone. So He didn't let me. Being the supreme grouch that I am, I do not deserve my loving critique group and supportive writer friends. But you guys don't give me the option of going it alone. For that I am both grateful and humbled.
Congrats again, my friend.

At 12:02 PM, Blogger Keli Gwyn said...

I hear you, Beth. I wouldn't be where I am today without the many people who have supported, encouraged, enlightened, and educated me. I'm glad you have such a wonderful Dream Team.

At 12:11 PM, Blogger Donita K. Paul said...

Beth's daughters came into my life first in Sunday school. 3-year old Krista needed an occasional shush during story time, but she really just has so much of worth to say. Katie Beth was a co-worker, helping to keep kids safe and energized. Her husband, Rob, came into my life second. He's a doctor I trust. After some pretty bad experience with doctors, he restored my trust. And then came Beth. I don't know if I can explain how Beth energizes me. She loves me and if you are loved by Beth, you have been given a God blessing. Then came Amy and Josh and Nate. I love it when my family grows! You guys are welcome at my house anytime. We'll have turducken again next year.

At 12:39 PM, Blogger Teri Dawn Smith said...

So thankful and proud to be part of the Ponderers and part of your community!! I can't wait to buy and promote your book!!

At 1:46 PM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Ok . . . It's rare when I tear up reading comments.
This is what I mean about community.
Where are my Kleenex?

At 1:57 PM, Blogger Roxanne Sherwood said...

I think this is a case where I get to say, "I told you so!" I didn't laugh at your fledgling attempt with fiction because I knew you were a good writer and you could do it.

And you did.

You sold!

Yay! I'm so very happy for you!

At 2:12 PM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

I will take that, "I told you so," only if it comes with a hug. You can deliver it to me when I come out for your wedding in June! (Can't wait!!)
Thank you for believing in me--when I didn't.

At 3:03 PM, Blogger Stacy S. Jensen said...

It's so great to have a network - close at home and around the nation. Congratulations on your new contract and your awesome community.

At 4:41 PM, Blogger Amy Lindberg said...

YAYAYAYAYAY! I am so proud to call you a friend and fellow Ponderer, TEE. I have loved watching God work in your life and watching you tiptoe to the dark side and step out and fly. You amaze me!

At 4:46 PM, Blogger Mary Agius said...

Sista Beth! I am honored to do "couch time" with you! Just stay on your side and it's all good. :)

At 4:53 PM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Thanks, Amy! And Sista Mary--the boundary line is always respected.

At 6:48 PM, Blogger Sarah Forgrave said...

Awesome, Beth. Just awesome.

I've heard great things about MBT but haven't gotten plugged in. Sounds like I need to check it out asap. :)

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

I hope you do, Sarah. I really hope you do!!

At 11:36 PM, Blogger Jeanne T said...

My friend, the beautiful thing about your post is that you have turned around and given to, encouraged and helped other "newbie" writers. You pour yourself out, get filled up by Jesus, and do it all again. You truly are an amazing woman!


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