Please welcome my fellow Rebelle, the amazing Dianna Shuford for today’s Rebelles from the Heart. Her manuscript DANGEROUS EXPOSURE is a finalist the the GH inspirational category. She’s also just completed a Master’s degree in Education (go Dianna!). Can’t wait to meet this talented lady in Orlando.
Thank you, Alice, for giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts and feelings about being a 2017 Golden Heart® Finalist. I also want to thank every reader who takes the time out of their day to read my words, translated from feelings that are not always easily identified. I hope what I share touches each of you in some way.
Being a finalist in this year’s Golden Heart® Award has made me realize how far I have come from the newbie writer that started a little over ten years ago, and it has made me reflect on the reasons I write. You see, writing is HARD! Most writers don’t get to write full time, but must divide their time between careers (income driven), families, and writing (and like a goofball, I added graduate school to the mix). This is not an easy thing to do, and it demands that writers compartmentalize their life and schedules. It requires strict scheduling of priorities to fit writing in wherever you can, and writing through the fatigue that makes being creative even more challenging. This is made even harder when all you want to do is write, write, write. Others often ask “Why would anyone do it if it’s this hard?” Now, I could quote Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own when he says, “It’s the hard that makes it great. If it was easy, everyone would do it.” I question myself daily as to why I continue, but the truth is I must write. An obstacle I often have to deal with in this journey (and it is a journey) is believing in myself and in my abilities to craft a story that will affect my readers.
Every writer has to deal with those little voices whispering in their ears. Voices that say things like: “What makes you a writer?”, “You’re a writer fraud.”, and “No one will like this.” I call these thoughts the lies we believe. You see, when we entertain thoughts like this, inadvertently we begin to believe them even as we state the opposite. The lie I tend to return to is believing that myself, my story, my words aren’t “good enough.” Yet, each time I fall back into this rut, God puts a timely reminder in my path of the lie I’m allowing myself to believe. The Golden Heart® final was one of those reminders.
Do you know that I almost didn’t enter the Golden Heart® this year? I hadn’t finished my revisions. The story wasn’t clean enough. I hadn’t upped the conflict and the romance enough. Then, I finaled, and I was astounded because it wasn’t good enough. I had to step back and realize that my perception of ‘not good enough’ is that same lie I was allowing myself to believe without realizing it. That is what writing does. It makes you face your insecurities and beliefs, exposing them to the light of the truth so you can be a better person, a better writer.
Leaving that lie behind, I made a list of all the things that being a finalist in this year’s Golden Heart means to me. I hope some of it resonates with you when you reach a success of some type.
It means Encouragement. Being recognized through a national writing competition that many enter means I’m becoming a better writer. This puts me one-step closer to achieving my dreams of publication.
It means Courage. In spite of set-backs I’ve received over the years, I’m still able to push forward and get my work out there. It’s been tough. It’s been challenging. But, I remind myself each time I’m faced with negative feedback or rejection that I’m stronger than the criticism. As a result, I use the criticism to make my writing better, whether it’s through edits to make my writing more clear or through strengthening characterization and conflict to give my writing more…just more.
It means Creativity. I don’t think most aspiring writers give themselves as much credit as they should. Every writer invents characters, plotlines, settings, and conflicts out of a simple idea. Every writer starts a new story in different ways, but the result is always a new creation based on imagination. That is hard, especially after a long workday. Those who craft a compelling novel out of a simple idea are my heroes.
It means Determination. No matter what comes against me, I’ve made a promise to my God, my family, and myself. I will succeed. The publication world is hard to break into, and it’s hard to learn what makes a story good, even great. Only those who are the most determined succeed in getting their stories on the market, no matter the publication road taken.
It means Optimism. Looking at the bright side after receiving multiple rejections is not easy. I’m not always the most optimistic person so I have to keep reminding myself there are more doors to knock on, and perhaps, one of those untried doors is the one for my story, my work, my outlet. My advice to new writers is to be optimistic about that next unopened door of opportunity and never to give up.
It means Passion. Writing is the dream that drives me forward on this journey. The interplay of words to establish mood, tension, and emotion fascinates me. I often tell others that I am a wordsmith, finding the right words to combine to evoke emotion and interest in others. My passion…to have a reader irrevocably changed by the story I’ve told and the words I’ve used. To have a reader find hope and love at the end of the story when they question if it is possible. This should be every writer’s passion.
It means Versatility. The landscape of the writing profession changes almost daily. It is a challenge to remain up to date and informed on the newest trends. Those who become locked into one way of writing and marketing will continue to struggle without success. I want to make sure I remain versatile and able to push forward in this evolving new world of publication.
It means Good Enough. I have proof and can say to myself, “You are good enough.” And that, my friends, is an amazing discovery.
What discoveries about yourself do you make through your writing? Do you find yourself confronting lies you’ve been believing? Do you use your discoveries to make your characters stronger and more believable?
Dianna Shuford writes Inspirational Romantic-Suspense and Contemporary Romance. She’s a multi-finalist for the prestigious Maggie Award, 2012 Laurie Award winner, and a 2012 Finally A Bride Award finalist. She was also a 2010 ACFW Genesis Award finalist: Romantic Suspense Category. Her current work, Dangerous Exposure, is a 2017 Golden Heart Finalist.
Dianna is a high school teacher/department chair who lives in Georgia with her husband, three children, and grandson. She loves nothing better than to curl up with a good book and ignore the housework. That is, when she is not writing.