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To Write or Not To Write?

By Pam Asberry


Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

My new teaching year started August fourth. I teach forty-one piano lessons Monday through Thursday, practice a minimum of two hours a day, and have ensemble rehearsals Monday evenings and Thursday mornings. My duo partner and I have four performances scheduled this fall, and the annual Redeemer Piano Ensemble concert will take place in November. My students are motivated and thriving and I am playing better than I have ever played in my life. Where music is concerned, things couldn’t be better.

I wish I could say the same thing about writing.

Last year, I went to RWA Nationals in Atlanta, I was a finalist in the Unpublished Maggie Awards for Excellence, and accepted my Honorable Mention at the Moonlight & Magnolias conference, where I received two requests for the full manuscript. Arguably on the brink of success, I nearly stopped writing altogether.

Why didn’t I finish the novel and submit it? Why have I done virtually nothing with my writing in the past twelve months? Well, teaching plays the bills, and from the day I took my very first piano lesson, at the ripe old age of seven years old, I knew wanted to be a piano teacher. Furthermore, my philosophy is “those who teach, play.” Keeping up my own music study makes me a better teacher and gives me credibility as a professional. But I am a woman of many passions. While teaching and playing are a huge part of my identity, I also feel compelled to make things with my hands and to write. And just as I believe my students and I mustn’t keep our music to ourselves, I want to share my writing with the world. I dream of being a published novelist and having readers who love my work just as much as I love reading the books of my favorite authors.

I began writing fiction five years ago, and even though I have read many books on the craft of writing, attended numerous workshops and conferences, and joined a couple of professional organizations, I still feel like I am staggering blindly through the darkness as a writer. I don’t know what I am doing or where I am going and no one seems to have any concrete or specific advice for me other than to keep writing. And lately I have been tempted to give up the dream. There would be one less thing to try to fit into my busy days, one less reason to feel a failure. Besides, if I ever were to be published, not only would I need to continue to find time to write, I would also need to make time for branding and promotion. How in the world would I manage all that?

Well, I personally know many women who are successfully juggling writing careers full-time jobs and families – my blog sisters, for example. And even though it is a blow every time a submission is rejected, I know deep inside that my writing isn’t good enough – yet – to be selected for publication. But I also believe that perhaps I do have what it takes to succeed, provided I persevere. After all, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know how play the piano; I have definitely put in my ten thousand hours at the instrument. Recognizing that helps put my experience as a writer into perspective.

So I’m holding onto my dream and renewing my commitment to writing every day, along with submitting to an agent or an editor and entering a contest at least once each month. After all, the worst thing that can happen is that I will never be published. But I will have the satisfaction of knowing I gave it my best shot.

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Marilyn Baron - August 21, 2014 - 5:41 am

Don’t you dare give up your writing. I remember the advice one GRW member gave me. She had been trying to publish for nine years before she got a Harlequin contract and now she’s mujltpublished with them. You are write, it’s all about perseverance. And the best advice is Keep writing. That’s from a number of famous authors I’ve interviewed. I finaled in the Maggie’s 10 years ago for a book that is just now getting published. And then I won a Maggie two years ago for a book that was published last year. So don’t give up.

Carol Burnside - August 21, 2014 - 5:54 am

Pam, you sound so much like a good friend of mine. She always thought she could do so much more than was humanly possible in a 24-hr day. Well, I hate to break it to you, but you’re human and a day only has 24 hours. So…

Here’s an idea: You have a summer break from students, right? And we know you’re disciplined, so… What if you plotted and edited during your teaching months for an hour a day or once a week for 4-5 hrs on the weekend, then made writing a priority while you’re free of students? Treat it like a NaNoWriMo project and blaze through a new WIP. Then when classes begin again, edit what you wrote and plot for your next writing binge/marathon.

Do whatever works for you, of course, but keep writing. You can do it!

Maxine Davis - August 21, 2014 - 9:25 am

Pam, Carol took the words out of my typing hands, lol. There are only 24 hours in a day. You are doing a lot of things. Good things. I was out of high school when I started taking piano lessons and I was in awe of my piano teacher as I am sure your students are of you. Relax. Maybe a schedule will help. You may not be able to spend hours writing, but some timewould help. Good luck.

Piper Huguley - August 21, 2014 - 9:32 am


These women have given so much wisdom here. Still, don’t give up. It’s hard to final in the Maggies and you have done it. However you carve out a little space in the day for yourself, do it because you have a gift to share.

Sandy Elzie - August 21, 2014 - 11:26 am

In the words of Winston Churchill, “Never Give Up!”

A know you can juggling more than one or two plates at a time and keep them spinning…after all, you’re a woman…and a mother.
Just don’t give up on the two things that you love to do…playing the piano and writing. Love you and hang in there!

Tamara LeBlanc - August 21, 2014 - 12:04 pm

Don’t give up. If it’s something you’re passionate about, don’t ever give up. Even if you can only find time to write once a week, for a single hour, don’t give up.
Look at all you’ve accomplished in your life! I can’t even play chopsticks and you’re teaching and performing…wow!
If you can do that, you can do anything!
Don’t give up :)

Pam Asberry - August 21, 2014 - 9:17 pm

Thanks to all of you for your encouragement and support. How could I possibly stop writing now? :-)

Walt Mussell - August 21, 2014 - 10:58 pm

Pam, I go through bouts where i can’t write at all, and then I pick up and start writing again. Keep it up!!!!

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