Back from the weekend with two more awesome authors to talk to. This big dreaming stuff is hard work, and I love hearing how others are tackling the task...
Today I'm talking with author Melissa Tagg, who wrote the Contemporary Romance Made to Last, which released last September. Watch for her new book, Here to Stay in May...now, let's find out a little more about this big dreamer!
And you probably guessed it, we're adding Made to Last to the Big Book Giveaway so keep reading to find out how you can win!!
How did this big dream of writing a book come to be in the first place?
I consider myself pretty lucky because I’ve never really wondered, “What’s my dream? What do I want to do with my life?” I’ve always wanted to be a writer. As a kid, I was a total bookworm and at some point had the realization that someone had to be writing these stories I loved. So, I decided I wanted to do the same thing. I started writing seriously in late 2009, started pursuing publication in fall 2010 and thankfully, had some wonderful doors open in 2012 that made the dream a reality.
Was there ever a time you thought you couldn't/wouldn't be able to pursue this big dream of writing a book?
I did definitely have times during the writing of my first book when I wondered if my timing was off…if it wasn’t the right season…or if I was writing the wrong thing. But as soon as I really got serious about pursuing the writing thing, God kept opening enough doors to keep me moving forward. I had those discouraging days, just like anyone. But something always eventually came along—encouraging words from a mentor, good feedback from an early reader, a contest experience, etc—to convince me I should stick with it.
Did anyone ever tell you couldn't or shouldn't do this? How do you handle the discouragement?
Honestly…no, no one has ever told me I couldn’t or shouldn’t do this. And I’m realizing just now as I’m typing this what a huge blessing it is to be able to give that answer. Truly, I have the most amazing family and friends, I really do. My parents and grandparents, especially, have always encouraged my dreams. And I’m beyond grateful for that.
Still, I definitely have faced discouragement. How do I handle it? Uh, I really like to just avoid it and go to sleep. Haha! But no, when I seriously need pulled out of those angsty pits we writers sometimes fall into, I usually first turn to my parents or close friends. And they’re always awesome about reminding me to keep my focus on the truth: That God is faithful. That he doesn’t lead us on a journey only to abandon us halfway down the road. That I’m not in this alone.
What things keep you from pursuing your big dreams and do you have other dreams you're in the process of pursuing?
Probably the biggest thing is just time. I work full-time for a homeless nonprofit and it’s an amazing ministry to work for, but it means my writing has to take place during early mornings, evenings and weekends. That’s definitely a challenge. As for other dreams, well, it’s funny—I used to think, “Oh, I need to have X and Y and Z accomplished by such-and-such a time or age.” I’ve got other thoughts in my head for projects—I’d like to try my hand at creative nonfiction, for instance. I like speaking, too. But in the past few years, I’ve sorta felt God strip away my need to know what’s next or to do it ALL in a set amount of time. I guess I’m just taking things as they come.
What's it feel like to put yourself out there like this--to take the risk to make your big dream come true and actually hold it in your hands?
Well, the first part—taking the risk—that felt a little iffy. By nature, I’m a little more of a “play it safe” girl. But I feel like God keeps showing me over and over that it’s when I defy that inclination to go the easy route that really cool stuff happens…
Cool stuff like getting to hold my book in my hands! And yes, that part—it was sooooo fun. My editor is so cool—she sent me a package with one copy of the book and a congratulations card and it’s pretty much the best piece of mail I’ve ever received. The next day, boxes arrived with all my author copies. I’m pretty sure I didn’t stop smiling for days.
What would you say to anyone with a big dream who hasn't worked up the courage to get started?
I think I’d start by asking them what’s holding them back. I’d encourage them to verbalize it. Because I think sometimes when we say our fears out loud, suddenly they lose a little of their hold on us.
Two other vital questions, too: Do you believe your dream is from God? And do you believe God is faithful? Like, reeeally believe it. If the answer to both of those questions is “yes,” then it’s time to let go of whatever is holding you back and take that first step toward the dream. One little step. That first step paves the way for the next one…and the second one will make the third step a little easier. Also, if possible, pinpoint those people in your life who you can confide in…big dreams need a support system.
Is there a quote or verse that's helped you keep moving forward?
I have a bunch of favorite verses that have encouraged me. I love Isaiah 26:3, about God keeping in perfect peace those who trust in him. Probably the verse I most pray over my writing is 2 Thessalonians 1:11. I love the way The Message paraphrases it:
Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time—pray that our God will make you fit for what he’s called you to be, pray that he’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something. If your life honors the name of Jesus, he will honor you.
About Made to Last: Miranda Woodruff has it all. At least, that's how it looks when she's starring in her homebuilding television show, From the Ground Up. So when her network begins to talk about making cuts, she'll do anything to boost ratings and save her show--even if it means pretending to be married to a man who's definitely not the fiance who ran out on her three years ago.
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