Tag: Carol Baldwin

Plan to Persevere

LETC-orig002-785x1024 coverOne of my favorite stories to listen to as a child was, The Little Engine That Could. The voice of the little blue engine who took on the insurmountable challenge of bringing toys, dolls, and “good things to eat to the good boys and girls on the other side of the mountain,” still echoes in my head: “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”

Fast forward 60 years. I’m a grandmother with dozens of articles and two non-fiction books under my belt. For the last ten years I’ve been working on my first young adult novel, Half-Truths. I have revised the story fourteen times; not including the hundreds of times I’ve rewritten scenes and chapters.

Did I know what I was getting into when I first started this project? Definitely not.

So, besides hearing the little blue engine in my head, what has kept me going for all these years? What keeps me chugging along from one revision to another?

Perseverance.

Plus, a healthy dose of belief in my story.

Take a minute to list your definition of perseverance as it relates to your writing career. Here’s mine:

  1. Not giving up on a reasonable goal.
  2. Making sure that my goal is God-honoring and worth completing.
  3. Not allowing myself to be distracted from that goal by other activities.
  4. Being willing to sacrifice (time, ego, money, etc.) to complete my goal.

Now, consider what is the opposite of perseverance? In other words, what will keep you from being the little blue engine who climbs that “I’m published!” mountain?

Here are some obstacles I thought of:

  1. Abandoning the idea because it takes too much time and effort.
  2. Listening to self-doubts and fears.
  3. Listening to the nay-sayers who mock the goal.
  4. Not being willing to make changes suggested by serious, constructive feedback.
  5. Not being willing to put in the time and effort it will take to revise, revise, revise.
  6. Not having the tools and abilities to reach your goal AND not trying to obtain them. (i.e., diligently practicing all types of writing, take classes, attend conferences, join a critique group)
  7. Rejections from agents and/or publishers.

When I began my novel, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. But I had an idea that I loved: a story set in the early 50’s in Charlotte, North Carolina about the unlikely friendship between Kate Dinsmore, the granddaughter of a rich, society woman, and Lillian Harris, her grandmother’s teenage black help. Their friendship uncovers a century worth of secrets, including their shared ancestry.

Although I’d written two non-fiction books, when I began Half-Truths, I didn’t know how to write a novel. So, I did what you’re supposed to do: I read craft books, attended writing conferences, and received dozens of critiques. I also didn’t know much about African American or southern history. So, I read books (many of which are listed here) and interviewed African Americans who lived in Charlotte during the time period. Each book and interview took time, but they all enriched my work.

One of the influential books I listened to was Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years 1954-1965 by Juan Williams. Besides giving me a fuller understanding of the scope of the civil rights struggle, it also provided a meaningful example of perseverance.

Civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King, had their eyes on the prize of obtaining equal rights for blacks. Did they always know what they were getting into? Maybe not. Certainly some, like Dr. King, Medgar Evers, and the protestors who were beaten and imprisoned, ended up losing more than they’d anticipated. But did they believe in the equality they were working towards?

Without a doubt, they did.

I for one, am glad they persevered.

My need to persevere as a writer is minuscule compared to those who unfailingly fought for equality and persevered in the face of discrimination, danger, and death.

But, as I begin the next step of my publishing journey—finding an agent–I have a plan: I must persevere. And I must believe in my story.

As Christians, we are aware that, “neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth” (1 Cor 3:7). But our calling is to diligently persevere. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.” (Eccl 9:10)

What about you? How will you persevere in 2019?

IMG_3597When Carol is not working on Half-Truths or blogging, you’ll find her traveling, trying to improve her golf game, or playing and reading books to one of her six grandchildren. A new member of the Write2Ignite Team, Carol seeks to serve the Lord with the writing gifts He has given her. She has published two non-fiction books and dozens of newspaper and magazine articles and enjoys teaching writing to teens and adults. For more information, please visit her blog where she reviews and gives away gobs of books!

Sneak Peek: Carol Baldwin’s Presentations for W2I 2018

Ready for Write2Ignite 2018? I’ll be leading three workshops at the conference: “Strangers in a Strange Land,” “Fiction Writing” (Teen Track), and “Writing Historical Fiction.” Let me describe them for you!

“Strangers in a Strange Land”

In Exodus 2:22, Moses names his son Gershom because Moses was a stranger in a strange land.

Christian writers, in some ways, are also “strangers”—in the secular publishing world.

How can we, if we’re Christians, honor Christ as writers in a largely non-Christian domain? What’s our calling as Christian writers? What’s our privilege? How do we fit—or fail to fit—in the secular publishing world? There are no easy answers. Nevertheless, in my interactive workshop “Strangers in a Strange Land,” we’ll examine ourselves, this “strange land,” ways to integrate our faith into our writing, and our presence in the secular world.

“Fiction Writing” (Teen Track)

I love teaching teens; they have out-of-this-world ideas for their characters and plots. True, sometimes their lack of inhibition must be tempered by plausibility, but their enthusiasm is contagious and inspirational!

In my Teen Track workshop, “Fiction Writing,” I’ll teach teens the following:

  • how to exercise their muscle words (All groans aside, this skill does involve actual exercise!)
  • how and why writers should use mentor texts
  • how a red pencil is their best friend
  • how to jazz up their writing by showing rather than telling
  • how details make a difference in crafting genre fiction

“Writing Historical Fiction”

I love historical fiction almost as much as I love teaching teens!

My hands-on workshop “Writing Historical Fiction” will involve the following topics:

  • R—Research. Should you read newspapers? Magazines? Books? Should you read fiction or nonfiction? Microfilm? How do you know when your research is done?
  • E—Experts. How can you find experts to consult about your story? What should you ask them? How should you use an expert’s story to inform your story?
  • A—Arrange. How can you create a system to keep track of notes, interviews, and photos?
  • D—Details and drafts. What details do you need to create an authentic story? How do you move from writing rough drafts to homing in on your story?

If you plan to attend this workshop, please bring your favorite historical novel. If you’re working on a project, bring one or two pages of your work.

Looking forward to seeing you at the conference in September!

***

Carol Baldwin

Carol Baldwin loves teaching writing and has presented at many educational, library, and writing conferences. She taught in the continuing education department at Central Piedmont Community College, coordinated the Charlotte SCBWI group for over twenty years, and co-publishes Talking Story, a newsletter for educators and media specialists.

Carol’s most recent book is Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4–8 (Maupin House, 2008). Currently, she’s working on her first young adult novel, which is set in North Carolina in 1952.

Find Carol’s book reviews, writing tips, and classes at CarolBaldwinBlog.blogspot.com, and follow her on her Facebook page or Twitter (@CBaldwinAuthor). You can also contact her at cbaldwin6@me.com.

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