Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Milli Thornton and Fear of Writing: Talent Tuesday!

Good Morning everyone :)

I can't think of any person I'd love more to showcase on our very first Talent Tuesday than Milli Thornton. She single-handedly pulled me from the brink of despair and encouraged me to keep going no matter how horribly I felt about my abilities or my goals.

As many of you know, being a writer isn't easy, especially if you're not published. There are people who don't understand the time you spend working on your manuscript. In fact, if you had an office like me, holing up of 8 hours (or more) a day in your basement to type away on a computer seems pretty kooky to those folks who don't even read or never understood the artistic drive. I don't blame them--that sort of drive (to work for no money) isn't something our society touts as admirable.

I attended a writer's chat--not even sure where now, I had stumbled across the announcement. A published author was going to be taking questions from writers--how could I resist? I never expected to spend half the night bawling like some dummy! Milli has that effect on people--no, not to make them cry :) But to really get in touch with their emotions so they can overcome those obstacles holding them back.

And that was exactly where I was: facing an obstacle that was holding me back. Someone had commented on my writing that I didn't have a unique voice, that I sounded too much like my favorite authors and that mimicking them made me a sad second. Yes, that doesn't seem like much today, but ten years ago, I was very frustrated and had begun to question if I was even smart enough to figure this all out.

Along came Milli :)

Not only did she listen to me, but she encouraged me and when she couldn't answer my question as in depth as she wanted in the chat, asked me to email her privately when it was over. There are some people you just instantly click with, some people who speak your language and have the second half to your half and together you make a whole. Milli was like that for me, and I truly was not surprised to discover how aswesome her book, "Fear of Writing" was for me and many others.

I know some of y'all have seen her book showcased on my blog before, but I've never dedicated a whole blog post entirely to her and of all the people I've met in this writing life, I can undoubtedly say she deserves as many accolades as possible. Not only did she take me under her wing and help strengthen my belief in my own abilities, but she does time and time again for authors everywhere. Her entire career is carved out the desire to be encouraging, comforting and uplifting to writers of every type and stripe.

Fear of Writing is a collection of short stories and writing prompts called "Fertile Material." Those prompts got me over many a blank page when I was trying to make my way into the short story genre, and the short story "Jack's House" saved me from a nasty bout of writer's block after 911. She and I have become close friends over the years and I count her as a very special person I'm lucky to know.

If ever you struggle, if ever you faced writer's block, if ever you needed encouragement, I can't recommed her book enough. When 911 happened, I was targeting Harlequin/Silhouette and writing romantic suspense. The horror of that tragic day left me feeling like those hours I spent in my basement were a waste of time and the love stories I created were silly, childish, and had about as much purpose as hand-painted toiletpaper.

When I read "Jack's House" about a woman who felt much the same way as I did at the time, asking herself, "Why write at all?" I never expected by the end of the story that I'd be--yes, again!--bawling like a dummy :) From that moment on, I realized that it didn't matter so much what I wrote (though that is part of it) as much as it mattered that I didn't squander my talents (or as they say biblically 'bury' them) and made good use of what the good Lord had given me. (Or fate, or mother nature, or genetics, or answered my calling--however you want to phrase that.)

So I encourage everyone to visit Fear of Writing at http://www.fearofwriting.com/ read the information there and if you believe this book can help you like it did me, get the book and email Milli, let her know how it helped you. My respect for her began in the chat room, grew when I read her book, and blossomed when we became friends.

Do you have a particular story about a book that saved you in some way? Maybe it was a book of financial, marital, or relationship advice? Maybe it was a how-to book that helped you leap a hurdle and accomplish your goals? I'd love to create a lovely long list of books in the comments here for everyone to refer to over time, so please leave a comment if you have a title or an author you'd like to share :) And of course, your personal experience ;)



Milli Thornton said...

Jenny, you bowl me over with love :0) :0) :0)

I am so honored to be your first pick for Talent Tuesday! And thank you for so eloquently reminding all of us (me included, I definitely need this reflected back to me at times) that we need to keep going as writers because otherwise we'll be hiding our precious light under a bushel.

I saw it best described this way on a plaque in one of those mail order catalogues:

"When I stand before God at the end of my life I hope that I would have not a single bit of talent left and could say, I USED EVERYTHING YOU GAVE ME."

Here's the link in case anyone wants to order that plaque for their own wall (this is not an affiliate link, just something I've thought of buying for myself):

The "I Used Everything" Plaque

Jenny, in telling this story about how our friendship grew, you left one side of the story untold--which is how incredibly much you did for me after we met. But that is only fitting because it's up to me to tell that story. Which I will do over on my blog, with great pleasure.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being who you are.


J.R. Turner said...

Oh Millikins!! So cool of you to drob by :) :) :)

Everything I wrote is true and there's so much more I love about you that I could (and probably should) write a book! :) LOL! (Or maybe a screenplay: The Steel Magnolia Terms of Endearment Sisterhood of the Traveling Book Thongs and Paw Prints maybe? :) )

I love the plaque you posted! That's such a wonderful goal to work toward :)

Thanks so much for just coming by and leaving me a comment :) You really don't have to blog in return :)I was thrilled to do this and it was totally my pleasure! :) :)