Guest Blog

Stories Don’t Write Themselves

By Cynthia Spurr

Writing – daydreaming – fictional people have always been swirling around in my mind. It’s so easy and quick to conjure a story. Stories, however, don’t write themselves. Not matter how hard we try. The GCLS Academy is helping me with that last step to complete my novel, and hopefully the next step forward, to publish them.

I took the long slow road here. I remember at my mom’s service I wasn’t going to say anything. I was going to keep the thoughts, real or imagined, to myself. But it was as if she had just poked me and smiled. She held out note, a small piece of paper with words written in pencil. A memory from my childhood, one I’d not thought of in years – like since my childhood. It lay on the dresser in the corner of a bedroom I shared with my sister.

It was just a fluke. I had written something that was bothering me left it on the dresser before for school. It wasn’t like I was asking for an answer or trying to take the chicken way out, so I was surprised when I returned home to find that someone had left an answer. Imagine that, some divine entity had taken an interest in my words.

I was spurred on by a response. So, the next day, I left another note. And again, an answer waited for me upon my return. It became a daily habit after that. I would write something, leave it in the morning and by late afternoon a reply would follow my words. They weren’t complaints or great thoughts of wisdom, but they were words of encouragement and advice.

The letters went on for months and it taught me to write…it taught me to be creative. Sometimes it wasn’t questions, but short little ditties. I call them short shorts now, but some of my friends call them poems. Tomato, tomatoe.

I had two stellar teachers who encouraged my imagination. All these fake people running around in my head creating mischief. One thing I totally lacked, or maybe I just missed it in their teachings, was how to go out and making a living with these people and their drama and their love.

As the years drifted by and reality to earn a living stepped in, I joined the Air Force. Pieces of my current work in progress floated around on one form of computer accessory after another. It never really moved forward and I never learned how to find fellow writers (even when I attended several writing classes and seminars). I still struggle with that.

In hindsight, it is a great relief that my novel was not completed when I was younger. The story has evolved and matured with me and it will be a much better, deeper, and more satisfying story now.

Despite the fear that Elizabeth Gilbert instilled in me via Big Magic, the idea did not seek someone else out to write it while I was busy being distracted by life. I had already lost one idea to another writer about writing from the POV of a dead person. That would never work, right?

Fast forward to May 23, 2016. After a very innocent conversation with a friend, I discovered a world I did not think existed. Lesbian fiction – and a lot of it. I stumbled into a whole new world with Melissa Brayden and the women of Soho. It was such a relief to read well written lesbian romance that was not stereotypically labelled.

It wasn’t long after reading all her books that I discovered there were more! Can you believe that not only are there more, but there are several publishing houses that published all sorts of books based on people in my community?

While I had struggled to complete my novel and stressed over how to get mainstream publishing houses to publish it, a whole world had risen and thrived. Now, I really had incentive to finish my work, I even decided on the publishing house I wanted to submit to.

I made the daring move to friend a couple of writers on Facebook which then lead to me seeing about conferences for authors and readers. This was a thing, who knew?

One day the Pittsburgh Conference for GCLS popped up on my news feed. After a brief review of the site, I found myself not only a member of GCLS, but booked to attend the conference. What in heavens name did I just do? This introverted, much prefer to daydream and write about life, just jumped feet first into her first conference with a lot of authors she had read and dreaming about being one of them.

It was during the conference that I learned about the GCLS writing academy. An academy geared toward women authors. There was only 1 slot left for the 2020 semester. I hemmed and hawed. Not only was it something I felt I was not ready for, but it was going to start in a few weeks. I was totally not ready. Maybe I should wait. After all what was one more year?

Enter the next woman to influence me, Maria Pena. She had just graduated from the last semester and not only provided good advice, but encourage a complete stranger to just do it. Did I really want to do this? Was I ready? Was I good enough? I don’t know, maybe.

On a whim I skipped a session, returned to my room and pulled out a sample, before I could overthink it, I had tweaked a sample and submitted my application before I left the conference.

The academy has shown me what my mother saw in me all those years ago. It has validated that what I taught myself over the years was right, my instincts are good. The authors who have generously shared their time with us have shown us how to make everything better and tighter.

In the end my mom gave me the greatest gift: she created a writer. Now with the help of GCLS Academy I may come to realize my greatest dream: a published author.


What are you waiting for? You can still apply to the Writing Academy! Click [ here ] for more information.

Not sure about finances? There are options available, including three scholarship opportunities. Click [ here ] for more information.

1 thought on “Stories Don’t Write Themselves”

  1. I can completely relate to those feelings of “am I good enough?”, but darned if I didn’t get accepted to the Academy! I look forward to life, and fiction, changing wisdom. Not to mention making those connections you talked about. Thanks, Cynthia, I don’t feel quite so alone now.

    Like

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