Dreaming of Becoming an Author
By Joanne Vruno
The one thing in life I have learned is to never give up on your dreams. Persistence is the key to achievement. You will get frustrated at times, and you’ll be scared that your story may not be good enough. Many doubts may arise before the story is done. Those are the times you need to focus on why you are writing this story. What is the true passion driving you? That passion is what keeps one motivated to become an author – the story inside of us. There is a purpose in writing a story, though sometimes we are unsure of what it is until the story is finished. As one writes, you know where the characters are going, who they will encounter, and what conflicts they may try to overcome. Each story shares something about the author's character, background, or life experiences.
So how do you get started? I started my first novel, Loon Child, while taking a writing course online that suggested looking at your surroundings and describing them. I was up in northwestern Wisconsin at a family member's cabin when I started writing. I began by describing the moon's reflection on the lake, then threw in a fisherman just as I heard a loon call. The story started to form.
As I progressed with my story, I realized that needed help. I was not an English major and was unsure of how to proceed with the story. I went to ‘The Writer's Loft’ in Minneapolis, MN and signed up for a course. I also took a course online at ‘ed2go’ before I gained enough confidence to move forward. Know that there are many wonderful published authors out there who want to help others achieve their writing goals. If you look up ‘writing courses online,’ you will find lists of classes in all genres.
The next step is dedication. I researched other writers’ methods of writing and liked the "Tom Bird Method.” Tom Bird explains that one should write either early in the morning or late at night when you are in a relaxed state, not fully alert. He describes how your creative mind is in control at that time. I agree! In the middle of the day, my logical mind kicks in and I analyze my thoughts. But in the morning, my imagination flows. So every morning, I make myself sit down at the computer and write. Some days it may be a page; others, two chapters or more. I need a quiet place to write, so I get up while my family is sleeping or write when they have left for the morning.
As I write, I have my husband review each new chapter. He gives me his honest opinion. When my story is completed, I send out copies to a group of friends and let them tear it apart. I do this because I see my story in my head, but some may see it differently. Letting others read my manuscript helps me to know what I need to rewrite. Most times it is better describing a character or event. A writer needs to develop a thick skin during this process and learn each criticism is making your story stronger.
After this process, I feel the story is good enough to send to the publisher. Finding a publisher can be very easy or very difficult. I was blessed to have an easy experience. A family friend who was an established author recommend that I go to his publisher. He was a small publisher in my state of Minnesota, and it worked out very well. I learned two major things from my publisher. Number one: always write your story in past tense. I wrote my first novel in present tense and had to change it to past tense. The majority of published books are in past tense; therefore, it is the more comfortable read. Present tense may make the book feel awkward to read. Your goal as an author is to make your book flow while it is being read.
The second thing I learned was that by being at a smaller publisher, I suddenly became part of a group of authors. I was no longer alone in this business, but instead was part of a new family. My publisher encourages all of their authors to share their successes, awards, and experiences. We have an email and a Facebook site where we can shout out to the group what we are doing and even ask advice. Friendships have formed, and it has been fun meeting others in person at group events. So as a novice author, being at a smaller publishing firm fits perfectly.
I hope everyone who dreams of writing a book accomplishes it. The feeling of pride as your first book is delivered to your home and you hold it in your hands is overwhelming.
Joanne Vruno was born in Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe) to very adventurous missionary parents. She spent her childhood in Maplewood, Minnesota, just a few houses away from Battle Creek Regional Park. Her childhood introduced her to a love of nature by exploring while hiking the woods, camping with her family, and gardening. Today, Joanne lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with her husband Dan and the youngest of her three children. It isn't unusual to find her working in her yard, walking her dog, or having a family picnic while spoiling her five grandchildren. She is the author of Summer of Elves and Autumn of Elves.