Lessons from an Author

The fact that I can title this blog “Lessons from an Author” is both amazing and surreal.  You see, my first book was just published so I guess I can officially say that I am an author.  (Buy it here!) Holding the book in my hands led me to reflect on the last 18 months and the journey that my co-author, Sondra Ashmore, and I have been on.  For what they are worth, here are the lessons that I have learned along the way.cover

Persistence Required

When writing a book, or doing any meaningful and challenging undertaking, you must have persistence.  This is obvious, I know, but let me share the backstory.  There were two chapter in our Agile textbook that were particularly difficult – the chapter on roles and the one on culture.  Not that we didn’t have plenty of content, that was never the problem.  It was trying to figure out a way to convey the information in a logical and cohesive fashion.  Each chapter was re-written nearly from scratch three times.  By the time you are writing a chapter for the third time, it is easy to get frustrated, depressed, aggravated, annoyed (can you tell that the memories are still fresh??) and a whole host of other emotions.  This is when you need someone to pull you back to the surface.  In my case, I was lucky to have Sondra.  In my time of doubt, Sondra reminded me that this is the time and circumstances that separates published authors from those with unpublished work sitting in a drawer.  It is persistence.  Pure and simple.  There are lots of great writers out there.  But persistence is the distinguishing trait for true authors.

Small, Continuous Goals

I am a project manager to my core, so it might have been easier for me to break this project down into small, achievable chunks. Along the way, numerous sacrifices were made, particularly by my family.  When we were nearing the end of the road, it was critical for me to review every word of every chapter that I was responsible for.  Words that I had already written and words that had already been reviewed by the copy editor – but I still needed to proofread every one. Which is probably crazy, but that is the subject for another blog.  I learned that proof-reading takes about 3 times longer than you think it will.  Each chapter ended up taking about six hours.  I had just started a new job so I gave myself a deadline of three weekends.  Saturday and Sunday – six hours each day – one chapter per day.  That isn’t particularly fun.  Or easy.  But it was small goals that were achievable.

Support

As both of the previous points suggest, you must have a support system to get you through the writing process.  Whether that is a co-author lifting you up when you are feeling down, or a husband who takes the kids so you can write uninterrupted, or friends who show up on Christmas Eve to have their photo taken for the book, or reviewers who give you honest feedback so you can improve – support is essential.  I am so blessed to have had it and I might never have been successful without it.  My wish for you is to have the same.

Closure

The thing about the book – my book – is exactly that.  It’s mine. Just like a diploma or a treasured award, no one can take this away from me.  I did it, I own it, it’s mine.  That is an amazing feeling.  I don’t know where life will lead.  Is this my first book or my last?  What is in store for me as a professional, a mother, wife, sister, daughter, co-worker, neighbor, etc?  I have no idea.  But I am now an author and that feels damn good.  Thank you for supporting my writing by reading the blogs.  I hope you have learned something or found some inspiration.  And I wish you lots of persistence and support so you can achieve whatever it is that you are dreaming of.

 

One Response to Lessons from an Author

  1. Rae says:

    Congratulations to Kristin! Thanks for sharing thoughts, emotions and energy. She has an amazing ability to facilitate and create consensus and as a co worker at her current gig, feel very fortunate to have crossed paths.

    look forward to continued growth and life long learning!

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