Here’s a guest post from Kim Bailey Deal, a published author who lives near Chattanooga. If you have a great idea and would like to contribute a guest post of your own, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: Guest Post Idea for No Rules.
I started writing short stories and poems when I was around nine or ten years old.
Looking back, I was the quiet kid who observed everything around me, or other times spaced-out into my own little worlds.
It was a blessing and a curse. You see, life was not always kind.
Writing became my personal form of therapy. I wrote to express the feelings I could not show. I wrote some poetry and stories that won contests from about the fifth grade until my freshman year, then I stopped letting others see my work. I was terrified at the possibility of ridicule and rejection, so I wrote occasionally and only for myself.
During the years my children were small, I went through a productive writing phase while also in college. One of my poems was published in the newsletter for a local domestic violence agency. I entered some community contests and won first place with two of my poems. Backlash by some close to me sent me back into my shell.
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Overcoming My Fears
I feared that proverbial other shoe dropping any minute, but I returned to writing in my early forties. I was determined to overcome my fears.
Many of my first stories were horrible. There was so much pain and anger, and I had no idea how to harness it to make a story that was powerful, moving, and interesting. It was for my eyes only, so I kept writing.
One day I realized I was ready to share some of my stories. I made a Facebook page as a writer and later created a blog. I picked up the guitar after years of remorse for not sticking with piano or clarinet and I began to teach myself how to play. Before long, songs came gushing out of me and I wrote and played (though not very well) some of my own songs. Poetry returned. Short stories began to surface.
My aunt encouraged me to submit one of my pieces from my blog. In April 2013 I had a creative nonfiction piece published in MORE Magazine's Member Voices titled The Pull of Straysas a reader contributor. In my mind this piece was a means for me to test the waters of exposure...to share my writing with others without fully committing to rejection of my work.
It's Never Too Late
In September 2014 I started writing my first novel draft. Once I began to write the book it came pouring out. Most days I wrote at least 2-3k words, some days upwards of 6k. I had participated in NaNoWriMo and won, reaching (and exceeding) the 50k goal. I kept going until I had a complete first draft on January 5, 2015 of over 92k.
The year 2015 was one of great loss for my husband and our family. We lost our dog in January, then his father in April and his oldest brother in June. Writing ceased as did many things I enjoyed.
Determined to get back in my stride, I participated in the The 2015 October Platform Challenge withRobert Lee Brewer, Senior Content Editor, Writer’s Digest Community, as part of the There Are No Rules Blog. My participation in this challenge helped me connect with other writers. I began to come out of my creative shell. I began to submit my work to journals, magazines, and contests. In order to improve my work, I asked for beta readers and also learned to give feedback by beta reading for my colleagues.
I participated a second year in NaNoWriMo and won by completing just over 50k for my second novel.
On January 1, 2016, two of my pieces, a short story and a poem, were published inIssue 3of the online literary magazine, Firefly Magazine, A Journal of Luminous Writing.
I am now collaborating with a group of writers, all of whom I met through the 2015 October Platform Challenge, to produce and anthology of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. I am also one of the six editors for the anthology collaboration.
I Am a Writer. Period.
At nearly fifty, I have finally begun to realize a life-long dream, and that is to become a writer who is known and published. More important, however, I have overcome my fears. At one time I felt there was no hope, but as my former high school band director, Mr. Frank Williams, III used to say, "It's never too late, until you don't do it!"
What I have learned after nearly a half century on this planet is that writing is not just something I do.
I am a writer. Period.
As the old saying goes,Better Late Than Never.
Today I am grateful for my journey to become a writer. As slow as I have been in my metamorphosis, I am right where I am supposed to be.
Kim Bailey Deal is a published author who writes short stories, poetry, creative nonfiction, and Women’s Fiction. She is currently revising her first novel and finishing her second, and editing an anthology. She lives near her hometown of Chattanooga, TN after 31 years away. She is the mother of four grown children, three boys and one girl, and "Nim" to her husband's grandchildren. She holds a Bachelor of Liberal Studies from the University of Oklahoma.