Stories that Matter

When Every Word Counts…Why I Do What I Do


A little over ten days or so ago, I wrote The End. The book is called First Harvest, and it’s been brewing since, oh, 2011 I suppose. I remember because that summer my mother in law was ill and we were driving back and forth from our cottage to her town, where she was hospitalized, about two hours each way. We passed beautiful lakes and fields and great big granite rocks, and since I wasn’t driving, I had plenty of time to think.

That past fall, my husband and I visited California for the first time. I was enthralled, enamored and enchanted. No, I did not say inebriated. It’s not an ‘e’ word. 🙂 But we did enjoy some mighty fine wine. However, I digress. As I thought about our wonderful trip to Napa/Sonoma, this guy marched into my brain. Young, handsome of course, and in charge of an ailing winery. I could see it all so clearly I wanted to stop the car right then and there and start writing. And then this girl shows up. Around his age, kind of pretty, well put together and all business. I know she’s there for one reason. It’s her family’s winery and her father wants it shut down. Our guy, who tells me later his name is Tanner, steps out of the shadows, nails her with a look that is far from welcoming, and says, “Hello, Mouse.”

And thus, First Harvest was born.

And then life got in the way. I struggled with the storyline, put it aside, worked on other things, picked it back up, and finally, finally, finally, finished it.

Now what? What indeed. I wish I could tell you that Tanner and Natalie’s story will be coming soon to a store near you…wouldn’t that be cool…but it wouldn’t be true. It hasn’t even been turned in to my agent yet.

See that picture up there? That’s my manuscript, alongside my super cool coffee mug, isn’t it cute? The mug, not the manuscript. The manuscript, alas, is a bit of a mess. Yes, it’s finished, yes, I love it, but oh we have work to do. These days, when publishing contracts seem so hard to come by, every word counts. Every page needs to sing, sizzle, scintillate and on and on and on. An author must present editors with the full package, and no reason to say no.

There is no failsafe method in this madness. At least I haven’t found one. Remember Harry Potter? Rejected how many times? I will probably never know what I’m doing wrong, but I darn well better be sure I know what I’m doing right. And that takes work. It takes commitment. It takes courage and yes, a certain kind of craziness to do what I do. And keep doing it. No guarantees.

It’s tempting to give up. Maybe find a real job that pays money. I’ve contemplated it. Especially on days when nothing seems to be working and the words won’t come. But the thing is, the stories never go away. They are there, in my head, waiting to be told. The next book is waiting to be written. There is a part of me in each storyline I write. A part of you. Life pulses through the pages of these books. It is real life. Raw. Rough. And oh so filled with the possibility of redemption. Filled with the truth that you don’t give up, no matter what, because this is your journey. My journey. I may not always like it. I may stumble across one of those huge granite rocks sitting right in the middle of the road, no way around it. I’m scaling one right now. Dealing with some unexpected stuff and praying like crazy because sometimes that’s all I know how to do.

Writing keeps me sane. Or crazy enough to believe that.

It’s not just about word count. It’s not about whether I will ever see my name on the cover of a book again. It’s about being true to who I am. To the journey assigned to me. It’s about reaching out, touching lives, mending hearts, sharing the journey. I will not be wasteful with my words. Life is too short.

Every. Word. Counts.

How are you doing this week?

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  1. Pamela Meyers on October 9, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Your life right now mirrors mine, Cathy. Got the first draft done and now the real work begins. You’re so right. Every word counts. I’ve edited the first three chapters for the proposal about a half dozen times already. But the whole manuscript must shine because that’s what editors want to see these days. Lots of hard work, but I can’t help but write.

  2. Beth Willis Miller on October 9, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Cathy, love this post, especially this…”Life pulses through the pages of these books. It is real life. Raw. Rough. And oh so filled with the possibility of redemption. Filled with the truth that you don’t give up, no matter what, because this is your journey”… also I love the photo of your manuscript with all the colored marking pens…could you share what each color represents as you do your editing…that would be very insightful 🙂

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