The Emotional Highs and Lows of Writing

I went out for a walk after a long night of rain. The sky overhead was a brilliant blue. On the sidewalk at my feet, an earthworm washed up by the rain writhed in agony. I felt sorry for it, but I couldn’t bring myself to touch it. Yuck.

I couldn’t help thinking about it, because sometimes I feel like that earthworm. Ecstatic one moment, curled up in a fetal position hours later.

We’ve all been there. It’s not just you, and it’s not weird.

I remember the euphoria when I’d met an actual published writer at my first regional writers’ conference who befriended me like I was someone with promise. She was an encourager, and I basked in her attention. She suggested I go to the ACFW conference. “You’ll meet big names, agents, publishers!”

I thought long and hard about it. This conference would be an investment. It was expensive and I’d have to fly there. More expense. My husband decided we should both go. He could play golf while I attended the conference. I was beyond excited and so, so nervous.

I prepared everything I would need for my very first meeting with a publisher. I had recently completed my novel, a wonderful fantasy with a strong spiritual message. It was gonna WOW him!

Photo by Wokandapix via Pixabay

Some of you can probably guess what happened. He smiled politely. “This is not ready, and not only that, it’s not even believable. And fantasy in the Christian market,” he shook his head. “It’ll never sell.” And then he proceeded to tell me not to quit my day job. I wasn’t ready, my story wasn’t ready.

Not ready, not believable? It’s fantasy, for goodness sake!

I’m stoic. I don’t like to show my emotions, especially in front of strangers. So, I plastered on a smile and thanked him for his time.

My husband was playing golf. Our room was empty so, I left the conference and went there. I curled up in a fetal position and cried. My heart was broken. Crushed. I was convinced I would never recover. It was over. (Only stoic in public, quite dramatic in private.)

The fantasy I had been living for the past year had ended in a devastating crash.

I got up, washed my face and repaired my makeup. Then, I put on my mask and returned to the conference. Weeks and months would pass before I fully recovered from this experience. Weeks when I never touched my manuscript. Why should I? It was over. I was not a writer.

Gradually, I crept back into the world of writing. I read about writing. I attended local writers’ meetings. I talked to other writers. And after that long, hard year passed, I went back to that regional writers’ conference. I took the classes and soaked it all up. I began to breathe again. And hope. And dream. And finally, to write.

Such is the life of the person who dares to identify as an author.

Our proclamation of, “I have a fantastic idea for a story!” is met with, “Meh! It’s too cliché. It’s been done. Blah! Don’t waste your time, because it’ll never sell.” Yada. Yada. Yada.

Don’t even get me started on what happened when I joined a critique group. Talk about trauma and anguish—oh my!

Thankfully, my story has a happy-ish ending. That original fantasy is Indie published. I completed two three-book series for Write Integrity Press and I’ve started a third series, soon to be contracted. I LOVE my critique group!

My sales haven’t rocked, so I still experience the highs and lows associated with our chosen profession. It’s never been easy. Each new story brings fresh challenges and sometimes, I’m convinced they will never work. I’m wasting my time! What makes me think I can write? There’s so much competition! When I’m all “Woe is me,” I’m still that earthworm.

Then, I’m stopped by a reader who gushes over my latest book and my emotions soar! Maybe I can write, after all.

I sit down and begin to write and the joy returns, especially when I get to write posts that will ultimately encourage young writers and help them understand the struggle we face.

Click-to-Tweet: The Emotional Highs and Lows of Writing might be your everyday reality, but you don’t have to let them rule you.

Writer’s Prompt: Close your eyes and imagine yourself sitting in a chair, conversing with your prospective agent. Your heart pounds, you take deep breaths and struggle to remember your elevator pitch, then something happens. You start talking, but it’s not what you’d planned…

Romancing Jane Eyre

Which came first, Beauty and the Beast, or Jane Eyre? There are definite similarities between the two stories. The answer to this question is, of course, Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bête – fairy tale by French novelist Suzanne Barbot de Villenueve, published in 1740).

In Jane Eyre, Rochester is a bit of a beast when Jane first meets him. Really, he’s just angry all the time, and for good reason. Like Belle, Jane “tames” the beast with her kindness.

This famous Gothic romance is still a best-seller today, so let’s examine some of my favorite story elements that in my mind at least, make this story great.

Our heroine is an outcast, rejected by her family. Her ill-treatment among those who should have loved her seemed to prepare her for what lay ahead. Most children sent to Lowood School don’t survive, which may have been the main reason her aunt sent her there.

But Jane did survive. Rather than allow herself to rot away as a teacher at Lowood Academy, Jane Eyre advertises for a suitable position as a governess. She desires adventure, and she certainly finds that at Thornfield Hall.

I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.

Like Beauty and the Beast, Jane Eyre is a societal tale. Belle’s father is a merchant, Beast is a prince. Jane’s situation in life is far below that of Mr. Rochester, during a time when the class system was ironclad. A titled man of property never dared to marry a governess. It was frowned upon.

Jane Eyre also presents the reader with situations that require acceptance and forgiveness. According to Bronte, Rochester is not an attractive man in the usual sense. He’s ugly and brooding. Though he is in possession of a good income and a fine estate, bad decisions have left him in an unfortunate condition. I’m leaving the poor man’s history at that, in case you haven’t read the book or seen one of the movies. I don’t wish to spoil for you. 😊

Our heroine is plain. But in my opinion, she’s not a typical plain Jane. Though in the beginning, she is reserved and seems overly prudish, she exhibits inner beauty and peace that is awe-inspiring. She’s a gifted artist and speaks fluent French. The reader can’t help but admire her, and Rochester is immediately drawn to her character. It’s a classic case of “opposites attract.”

The romance element is strong in Jane Eyre. The attraction begins early on as the unlikely couple banter about ordinary subjects. Rochester is not put off by her reticence but draws her out. Her intelligence and wit inspire many brow-arching moments on his part. As their relationship deepens, their two souls seem almost intertwined, prompting him to remark that their hearts are connected by an unbreakable cord.

It’s a Gothic tale, for all is not as it seems at Thornfield Hall. The manor house is pokey and dark, but still ten times better than Lowood School, where she’s spent most of her life so far. Then there are times when Jane hears maniacal laughter and piercing screams. Her doorknob rattles as though someone is trying to open it. Is the house haunted? Or, is it a more ordinary circumstance, as the housekeeper assures her? A laundress with a propensity for over-imbibing alcohol.

Days of sunlit gardens give some relief from the dark interior of the house, along with Jane’s growing affection for Adele, the little girl in her care, who is Rochester’s ward. But just when things seem to be headed toward happily-ever-after, something terrible happens that nearly drives Jane over the edge. She must leave Thornfield Hall at once!

Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you.

She takes the coach to the end of its route and finds herself alone on the moors. Now in a completely different world, she’s living another life with a new suitor, though I never accepted him as suitable for Jane. 😊

It is evident that the writing of this tale must have taken years. Jane Eyre is a well-thought-out story filled with symbolism and truths that you may not catch the first time through. I’ve read it more times than I can count, and I’ve watched several film versions. Still, the original novel is stunningly detailed.

One of Jane’s strongest character traits is a direct result of her religious upbringing. She can seem closed and judgmental at times, but those deep, spiritual roots keep her moving forward and on more than one occasion, keep her from making a really bad decision that would most certainly destroy her.

Oh, to pen such a story as this one! Though some modern readers will find the language stilted and the narrative a bit wordy, others will discover as I did, the beauty of a timeless theme. Love banishes darkness.

All my heart is yours, sir: it belongs to you; and with you it would remain, were fate to exile the rest of me from your presence forever.

If interested, you’ll find an excellent study of Jane Eyre here:  Jane Eyre Study Guide

Click-to-Tweet: “All my heart is yours, sir: it belongs to you; and with you it would remain, were fate to exile the rest of me from your presence forever.” – Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre from Romancing Jane Eyre via @InspiredPrompt

Writing Prompt: “You say your heart belongs only to him. How then can you leave him? What terrible thing has he done to break your heart and bring your world crashing down?” How would your fictional heroine answer this question?

Fit for the Long Run

I laugh as I consider me attempting a long run. I have a dear friend who runs marathons. I watch her in awe, knowing she has spent countless hours preparing for a race. And then, you know what? It doesn’t really matter if she doesn’t win. What matters is, she finishes.

I’ve always taken pretty good care of myself. I tried to eat right. I’d take long walks, followed by some strengthening exercises. But a few months back, I became distracted by life and too busy to take a few minutes out of my day to go for a long, leisurely walk. The few minutes it took to go through the exercise routine seemed too much for me. I was in a hurry. I had to finish the next thing on my list.

Kicked to the sidelines, exercise languished. I sat too long. I’m a bookkeeper, so my job is mostly sedentary. I write in my spare time. We all know what that means—more sitting. Right now, writing this, I’m sitting. But you know how it is—I must finish it before I get up. If I leave it, I may not get back to it!

Outside, the sun is shining. It beckons to me, “I’m shining for you! Take a few moments away. Come play in the sunshine!”

I’m ignoring it, pressing on. When I finish all my chores, I’ll head out there. Only thing is when I finish it’s nearly dark. The sun has gone on its way. I missed another opportunity to enjoy its warmth and the boost of vitamin D I so desperately need.

Result: After months of abusing myself in this way, I began to suffer odd pains in my body. I didn’t feel right. The pain increased so I went to the doctor. They ran all sorts of tests, only to find…nothing.

My chiropractor kept telling me, “Get up. Don’t spend such long hours sitting in front of a computer screen.” He suggested I try using a dictation program to write my stories or redesign my desk so I can sit or stand. “The stress is literally making you sick.” He was right.

For many, January presents a fresh start. A reset. Time to toss out the bad habits I’ve picked up over the last few stressful months of the former year. I’m planning some positive changes that will help me destress and find my way back to health.

When I feel better, I write better. Or at least, I can write more. So, I’m getting up right now and walking away from the computer desk for a few minutes. Across the room, I spend time working through a routine given to me by a friend who happens to be a personal trainer. They are simple exercises that take only a few minutes and can be done several times during the day. You can easily find a routine like it online, or try Pinterest!

I break my computer work into sections, using an alarm on my phone to remind me to get up and walk. Drink water. Eat a healthy snack. Do I really need to remind myself to drink water? Yes!!

These are small steps, but really, that’s all it takes. When I begin to feel better, I will have the energy to do more. Stay a little longer at the gym, park farther from the door at the shopping center. Stop at the park on the way home from work and make an extra lap around the walking loop or path. Take the dog out for a walk (if I had a dog).

“Exercise brightens your eyes,” one of my teachers used to tell his students. All I know is, my blood flows faster, producing more energy to accomplish daily tasks. My brain works better. Words come easier. During those short exercise routines, ideas pop into my mind. I take time to jot them down without interrupting the activity.

I may not win the race, but I intend to finish.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. – 1 Corinthians 9:24 ESV

Writing Prompt: Janet closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath. Today was the day for new beginnings. All around her, well-trained athletes worked through their final routines, preparing their minds and bodies for the race. Was she really doing this?

Click-to-Tweet: Outside, the sun is shining. It beckons to me, “I’m shining for you! Take a few moments away. Come play in the sunshine!” – Fit for the Long Run via @InspiredPrompt and @batowens

How to Survive a Book Release

I’ve carried it in my heart for months, even years. I’ve gone through travail to bring about its birth. And now, it’s time.

Am I really ready for this?

Will I survive the release?

Oh, what fun and excitement surrounds the release of a book. That is, if you call taut nerves, almost overwhelming nausea, and gut-wrenching anxiety fun. It’s all part of the routine. Kind of like strapping yourself into a monster rollercoaster you’ve never ridden before. You have no idea where it’s going to take you, or what twists and turns you’ll endure along the way.

So, are you ready? No?

That’s why we’re here. In order to have a great book release, you need help. This month at Inspired Prompt, we hope to give you ideas and point you in the right direction to get that help.

The Inspired Prompt crew and contributors have been there (and done that), either with our own releases, or helping other authors. We’ve served on numerous teams, written reviews, and held the hands of the releasing authors. We know the drill and have learned some lessons along the way. Lessons we will now share with you, dear readers.

  • Speaking engagements – how important are they? What do you talk about? How do you find them?
  • Setting up a “street team” – your encouragers who come alongside and add their strength to yours in the marketing process.
  • Utilizing Facebook parties and Facebook Live
  • The benefits and importance of Blog Tours
  • Marketing Resources
  • Working with traditional publishers
  • Dealing with sales tax

Our toolbox is fully packed for November. I hope you’ll join us on Mondays and Fridays for our regular posts. Please send us your comments and suggestions.

The crew and I are so thankful for you, our readers. Our prayer is that you will be inspired and encouraged and that your eyes will be opened to new possibilities along the “write road.”


Writing Prompt: Write an opening paragraph for a new story using these three words: birdsong, autumn, concrete. Have fun!

Click-to-Tweet: Are you ready for your book’s release? In #November @InspiredPrompt provides writers with great ideas, suggestions, and how-to’s to help make it a success. #BookRelease

Farewell to October

A brooding calm in all the air,
A dreamy quiet everywhere…
A golden glow to light the day
That fades in purple mists away—
This soothing calm, this presence bright,
October’s sweet and mellow light.
~Phebe A. Holder, “A Song of October,”
in The Queries Magazine, October 1890 – courtesy of Quote Garden

And so October is on the wane. This final, eventful week will pass in a rush of activity for most of us. November is upon us and Ho! Oh no! Just a few more weeks to prepare for the holidays.

What a month we’ve had here at Inspired Prompt. I hope you’ve enjoyed our posts and added a few books to your TBR pile. Jennifer’s resources post should have you well supplied with the best in writing help. I have a few of those on my desk, ready to help in a moment of need.

As we leave fair October behind and gird ourselves for that which lies ahead, let us hear from you. If you’re a follower of our blog, what has helped you this year? What would you like to see more of in the future? Please leave us a comment and let us know, because you are the reason we’re here.

The goal of the Inspired Prompt blog is to educate and inform writers, with an emphasis on new and Indie writers. We provide clear, basic information in four areas: how-to, marketing, encouragement, and our “signature” prompts, thoughts, and ideas. We hope to inspire writers/authors to reach for and attain their personal best.

Inspiration. Encouragement. Education. Those are what we strive to present to you, our readers, to share what we’ve gleaned and learned along our own “write road.” Some of you are about to launch into the NaNoWriMo season. If so, I salute you. It’s a great challenge for a writer. And I would like to issue some challenges of my own:

  1. Focus on the positive.
  2. Write with abandon.
  3. Nourish the joy of writing.

November’s coming, and with it, a brand new theme. Join me here on Friday to find out what’s coming up in November besides NaNo, pumpkin pie, and turkey. Together, we’ll learn more about this wonderful calling—the path of the writer.

Click-to-Tweet: Inspiration. Encouragement. Education … are what we strive to present to our readers, to share what we’ve gleaned and learned along our own “write road.” #amwriting #inspiration

Writing Prompt: Begin a story using the photo below as inspiration. Remember to answer the questions: who, what, when, where…

Image by Matthew Morse from Pixabay