The Story Behind the Book

Every book has a story behind it. Or several. Because all books are born of an author’s life and experience and whatever path he or she walked for that book to be published. Sometimes those paths can be smooth, but often they are bumpy and full of ups and downs.

Last week, I got a box of brand new, beautiful books in the mail. They’re the advanced copies of my July Heartwarming book, Reunited with the Cowboy, and they are so pretty! And while my first instinct was to immediately post a photo of my books on social media, I didn’t. Instead I paused to reflect on what this box of books means to me.

It’s been two years since my last Harlequin book came out. Two years in which all I successfully wrote was a self-published novel and a novella. Staring in wide-eyed wonder at my new box of books, I remembered all the times, over these past two years, when I looked at other authors’ photos of their newly arrived books, and wondered if that would ever be me again. I was so jealous of those authors, and so quick to beat myself up because I wasn’t one of them.  I imagined that their lives were perfect, their writing far superior to mine, their discipline far greater, because they had a new book out and I didn’t.

And maybe that’s all true, I don’t know. But the reality is, almost every writer encounters hardships and rejections and any number of difficulties. And looking at my new box of books, I was suddenly overcome with long-overdue compassion for myself. I remembered all of the setbacks and challenges that happened between my last book and this one.

To keep a bunch of long stories short…

 I was exhausted and my health wasn’t good.  I decided to take a break from writing because my son was having a very hard time and needed his mama.  I injured my hip badly and had a long, slow recovery. It took ages for me to write a proposal that my agent liked. That proposal sat at Harlequin for months and months. Superromance, the line I wrote for, closed.  My amazing editor was laid off. I was really, really sad about that. My proposal disappeared somewhere into the Harlequin ether. Eventually my agent resubmitted the proposal and it sat for months and months again. Then it didn’t sell and I had to start over.

It’s not the happiest story, so why am I sharing it?

Because social media allows writers (and all of us) to present an illusion that our lives are perfect. That beautiful boxes of new books just magically appear. That we were somehow meant to be an author.

And during times when we are struggling, we see other peoples’ perfect-looking photos, and it can feel discouraging. Or like a dream we’ll never manage to attain.

But I’m here to remind you that most authors experience setbacks, doubt, struggle, rejection and heartache. Every author has probably felt frustrations, worries and fears just like yours. So please remember that if you’re trying to write, and it’s not going so well, just hang in there, keep writing, learn everything you can, and don’t let your fears and insecurities get the better of you.

This isn’t just about books. If you’re on your own rocky journey to meet a goal, keep going as best you can. We can keep pursuing our dreams even when times are hard. Even when those dreams feel impossible. It might take us longer than we’d like, but we’ll get there!

4 thoughts on “The Story Behind the Book

    1. Claire McEwen Post author

      You are so right, Jenny! I have definitely had moments of barely hanging on, and I hate to say it but I probably will again! Publishing is a tricky business and it’s so important to stay strong. What helped me is connecting really strongly to a vision of the types of books I wanted to write, and really following my heart right into the stories I was writing. Of course, no one’s read them yet, we’ll see if that vision works out for me! 😉

  1. Cathy Shouse

    Thanks for sharing this! I tend to think that once a writer’s “discovered” the contracts keep flowing. I admire your transparency.

    1. Claire McEwen Post author

      I’m so glad it was helpful, Cathy! I think it’s important to be real about this writing thing… there are so many ups and downs.

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