Please meet today’s Rebelles from the Heart guest Pamela Ferguson, whose novel “Wings of Love,” is a 2017 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist in the Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements category. I got my dancing shoes on for this one–hope you do too! ❤
Being a 2017 Golden Heart© finalist is a milestone, not a destination. An extra nudge as I scamper along the yellow brick road that is my writing career. Being a finalist doesn’t mean my book will be published. It doesn’t mean I’ll one day be a best-selling author. It’s kind of like graduating from high school or college—you do the work, you get the degree, but there are no guarantees. And let’s not forget about meandering. How many of us start out with one degree in mind when we enter college, but then discover new information—like “I hate accounting”—that makes us question what we’re pursuing and spins us in a different direction? (Hand shoots into air.)
Being a finalist is an important accomplishment because affirmation matters. Encouragement matters. Looking at a framed piece of paper on the wall is sometimes all the reinforcement I need to keep on trying. To not give up. I’m grateful for that.
I don’t know about my Rebelle sisters, but the temptation to mark this moment, to compose an imaginary commencement address for the Golden Heart© Class of 2017—the kind of address I would like to hear—is suddenly irresistible.
Your indulgence, please.
(Famous author approaches the podium, pauses for a moment to clear her throat.)
You, the Rebelles, the Golden Heart© Class of 2017, stand on the brink between not yet and soon to be, between almost ready and ready or not. This is what you’re told: Be authentic. Be vulnerable. Be the best you can be.
Advice abounds, some of it good, most of it well-meaning. Or is that “well meme-ing”? If an idea can’t be communicated in three seconds, is it worth repeating? In the never ending battle for eyes and ears, tweets and earworms reign. Or is that rain, as in a torrential downpour of text, images, and sounds, demanding to be acknowledged? Because being ignored, they tell us, is worse than failing. Failing means people read your book, throw it across the room, and yell, “I can write better than that!” Failing means at least one person hates your book enough to write a one-star review.
Failing is awesome. Being ignored barely merits a yawn. And everyone is tired these days.
Except you. Because Rebelles don’t give up.
This writing thing is not for the faint-hearted. The weak-kneed and thin-skinned don’t fare well either. But you already know that. You’ve pulled all-nighters, missed buses, arrived late, skipped meetings, called out sick, begged off invitations, irritated family members, alienated friends, forgotten appointments, and perfected the art of hiding in plain sight. You write on the sidelines and in the drive-through. You text yourself story ideas in the middle of doctor’s appointments. You accidentally ram your grocery cart into someone else’s while trying to imagine which avocado your heroine would select. Because unlike you, your heroine has time to eat healthy and take care of herself.
You’re a Rebelle. You hang tough. You’re strong for yourself and for others. You encourage your critique partner after her tenth rejection. You offer constructive feedback. You celebrate other authors’ successes. You listen when someone takes the time to point out flaws in your manuscript. Because the gift of time is precious, and someone cared enough to help you make your story better. Because someone didn’t ignore you.
But even if you had been ignored you wouldn’t care. Because you’re a Rebelle.
Because you know that an audience of zero can mean freedom. Freedom from criticism. Freedom from perfection. Freedom to create and explore and write the story only you can tell. You appreciate these quiet moments, cherish them even. Because that’s the time when your story unfurls and embraces and consumes and blossoms and becomes. In the silence, before the audience arrives, when you’re struggling, ignoring naysayers, nurturing an idea.
When did laughing at being ignored become courageous? When did thumbing your nose at rejection become an act of bravery? When did hope become so rebellious?
That’s the key, isn’t it, Rebelles? Beneath your je ne sais quoi exterior, you nurture a flame of hope that fuels your pursuit of the happily ever after—for yourself, your characters, and your readers.
So put down your umbrella and dance in the digital downpour. Send your books into the world. Wish them well but don’t dwell on their fate. Be grateful for the gift of storytelling. Your hard work got you here, Golden Heart© Class of 2017. Now it’s time to leap into the abyss and work on that next incredible story.
Pamela Ferguson’s novel, “Wings of Love,” is a 2017 RWA Golden Heart© Finalist in the Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements category. She is a member of Maryland Romance Writers and the Faith, Hope and Love Chapter of RWA. When she isn’t working on her next book, she can be found chasing after her high-energy German shepherd or negotiating with her dictatorial cat.