Chip MacGregor

January 18, 2013

A Guest Post: What I’d Change About My Writing Journey


Today’s guest post is by author Gina Conroy.



You hear it all the time when people are trying to make sense of their trials in life…

“The struggles only made me stronger. I wouldn’t change a thing.” Maybe you’ve even said it to try and ease the pain of your writing journey.

While the first part of that statement may be true, struggles do make us stronger, to be honest, you wouldn’t change a thing? Really? Oh, I don’t know. I can probably go back through my entire life and finds things that I would change. But let’s focus on my publishing journey.

Would I change the fact I thought I had to shelve my writing for ten years while I raised my kids?

Yep, I wish I would’ve found the support of other writing women and organizations like ACFW sooner so I could slowly improve my craft instead of diving in like a mad woman (and messing up my priorities) when I thought the timing was right. Thankfully for young moms today, the internet is overflowing with helpful writing blogs and support groups. You don’t have to wait to write. I wish I would’ve had the resources ten years ago that you have today.

Would I change the fact I struggled to find the balance between writing, homeschooling, and life?

And still struggle to find the time to write while constantly feeling pulled in every direction? You betcha. It would’ve been much easier to figure it all out instantly and not have to continue to struggle in this area, but then again, I wouldn’t have founded Writer…Interrupted, a website where I encourage other busy, interrupted writers trying to balance life and this writing thing.

Would I change seven years of writing rejections and heartache? 

Okay, that’s a no brainer! But it only made me stronger, right?

What about changing the years I spent doubting my abilities only to have my agent, Chip MacGregor, repeatedly tell me that I was a good writer and one day “it” would happen. While he can’t do everything (for example, Chip cannot pronounce Sacajawea correctly or do the Lindy Hop), he was right about my writing. After seven years (or eight, I lost count) of pursuing publication, my novella with Barbour released last December and Digging Up Death, the book he signed me with four years ago but didn’t sell at first, released this past November. Though I would’ve changed the timing and process of it all, Chip was right. It did happen.

Do I wish Digging Up Death would have sold the first time around?

Sure, I guess but God has His own agenda, even if I don’t agree with it. In my finite wisdom, I’ve tried to make sense of the waiting period, and can only hope that now as a more established writer, my reach can go farther than it would have four years ago. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Would I change all the worrying and “trying to make it happen” I did over those seven years?

Absolutely! There is freedom in surrendering the process to the One who gave you the gift. You should try it sometime.

Would I change the fact that those I mentored got published before me? 

Um, did you really have to ask? Being left behind isn’t fun, but I’ve learned that while it would’ve been easier to have had things my own way, I would’ve missed the things I needed to learn to get to where I am… so I can be a better writer.

I could go on and on with things I’d change, but why? While journeying this crazy writer life, it’s easy to fall into the ‘woe is me’ role, believe me, I’ve been there…still visit on occasion, but over the years I’ve learned not to look at my writing journey or hardships with regret. I’ve also realized that I’d be lying if I spouted “I wouldn’t change a thing,” because I would. Instead, I choose to look ahead to the road in front of me. Be it easy or hard, I’ll face it knowing at least I’m moving forward.

Where are you in your writing journey? Are you living in the land of “woe is me” or are you moving forward?
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  • chipmacgregor says:

    Loved this, Gina. Thanks for sharing your story with us!

  • Ron Estrada says:

    Now this one hits home. Thanks Gina.

  • Teresa says:

    Thanks for reminding us it’s okay to have honest feelings. My recently submitted article is being described by different editors as everything from “charming” to “stale!” Not sure where go from here.

    • Gina Conroy says:

      Teresa, I’ve been there, especially with Digging Up Death! When I entered it in contests people either loved it or didn’t “get it.” And the CBA editors liked it, but it didn’t fit. Your story won’t resonate with everyone and that’s OKAY! Just keep plugging away until it does. And remember, I shelved my story for four years before it got published. I thought it was dead, but maybe it just wasn’t time. Teresa, just keep moving forward! You’ll get there…eventually!

  • Desiree Woodland says:

    Thanks for writing a real response to the writing life. …and you do it with humor and grace!

  • Remembering your book, Digging Up Death, from way back and the long road for you, I have to agree with you! Great post. I don’t know why it happens this way, either. Lots of good words here, Gina.

    There are many things I would change about my writing journey too. And still. I wait.

    • Gina Conroy says:

      Crystal, I had fun looking back through my emails to make sure I thanked everyone who had a hand in Digging Up Death. Needless to say, it was a pretty lengthy acknowledgment section! LOL! Thanks for all your input, and it will happen if you don’t quit! 🙂

  • I would not expect anything less than complete and raw honesty from you, Gina, and this post reflects those traits.

    As for my writing journey, I started by writing devotions and inspirational articles. Are one rejection of a proposal from a big publisher, I turned my attention to my children’s books. Although that has worked out splendidly, my heart still goes back to my devotions. I’m earnestly praying about what I should do next. I suppose if I would change anything, it would be to continue down both paths instead of licking my wounds over one rejection. How silly of me in retrospect! 🙂

    I love it that you’ve shared your journey, and I congratulate you and praise God with you for your success!

    • Gina Conroy says:

      Awww thanks, Donna! I’ve adapted the tagline for my writing “Always Real, Sometimes Raw, Definitely Redemptive.” Glad to see I live up to it! 😉 In retrospect we always see clearly, Donna, but isn’t it great we get the chance to make those U turns and pick up where we left off! Follow your heart, maybe you needed to lick those wounds so they could heal. Maybe NOW is the time…

  • Darlene L. Turner says:

    Great post, Gina. Thanks for the encouraging words. I’m working at finding an agent and it’s definitely a tough process having to go through rejections. However, I’m keeping on keeping on! Congrats to you!!! God bless.

    • Gina Conroy says:

      Darlene, just keep at it! I got to know Chip and another agent at conferences for several years even before I pitched them. Don’t be in a hurry, it will happen… when it happens! 😉

  • LOVE this honest post! Gina, so many times I think I’d shorten the time period since I wrote my first book (2009) till one of my books gets picked up (???–on third one now). I WOULD NOT want to go through these gruesome waits again (almost a year on submission! WHAT?!).

    But I am thankful for the support that has grown in those five years I’ve been waiting (not to mention that my platform has grown–tres important). You’re so right–we have quick and easy access to writer friends/agency info now. We can easy find mentors and beta readers and critters (the human kind).

    And we have more info to share with other newbie writers, who are “sitting where we sat” just a few years ago.

    Also get you on the homeschooling/writing balancing act. Right in the middle of THAT, too! 3 middle schoolers this year!

    Glad for your insights, Gina. All the best w/Digging up Death–love the cool cover on it!

  • Pegg Thomas says:

    A friend of mine likes to say, “Why pray when you can worry?” I laugh every time he says it and tell him that I can multitask and don’t see the two as mutually exclusive. 😉 But he’s so right. Prayer and giving it over to the Lord is always better than worrying. Not easier… but way better!

    • Gina Conroy says:

      Pegg, I hear you on multitasking on worrying and praying! Isn’t that what David did in the Psalms?? Guess, we’re in good company! And I like to think it’s how you “end” your time with God that counts. He’s a big God. He can handle the worrying and whining! 🙂

  • Cherry Odelberg says:

    Woe is me, I have been following an agent who can’t do the lindy hop. I am so old, I have no time to waste looking back and contemplating what I wish had been different. Too prone to introspection anyway.

    • Gina Conroy says:

      You’re never too old to Lindy Hop!! (I know that wasn’t your point, but couldn’t help myself. If you don’t know already, just mention dancing and I’m off on a tangent…now where was I?) “No time to waste looking back…” Seems like you’ve got it figured out, Cherry! And you’re headed in the right direction!

  • Patricia Bradley says:

    Wonderful, insightful post, Gina. The waiting is hard, and sometimes laying our writing on God’s altar is harder. My tagline is I asked God for patience and He gave me a book to write.

  • Ginger says:

    Great post, Gina! When I started to hang around Woe is Me too often, I started mentoring middle school students who dream of becoming writers. I have 40 of them now! Mentoring is the best antidote when stuck somewhere unpleasant.

    There’s nothing more heartening than witnessing a skinny sixth grade boy with glasses and a high pitched voice announce to his peers that he has begun an epic six book series.

    • Gina Conroy says:

      Good for you, Ginger! I know all about those little ones with an epic book to write. I started teaching 3rd -5th graders creative writing, and now I teach online story crafting classes to tweens & teens! It’s so rewarding to inspire these talented kids and I’m excited I get to be part of their writing journey! Who knows, maybe you’ve helped inspire a future best seller!

  • Elaine Stock says:

    Gina, thanks for writing this post. I’d only be repeating the very well stated words your commenters have already shared if I try to add anything more, so instead I’d also like to thank everyone for sharing this encouragement.

  • Jessie Gunderson says:

    What a journey it has been, Gina! I’m honored to be one of the aspiring authors learning from you. Your generosity in sharing your struggles has really helped me be patient and keep right perspectives while learning all I can in this baby season. Someday maybe I’ll be published but until then I try to take your advice and rest in the One who gave me my dreams.

    You are an incredible mentor, mom, friend! Thank you for being you.

    Great post by the way.

    Hi again Chip. Thanks for having Gina as guest!

    • Gina Conroy says:

      Jessie, my traveling buddy, who started your own writing journey when you got on a plane to meet (and share a room) with a stranger you’d met months earlier on the internet so you could attend a small writing seminar held by Chip & Susie! Oh, the adventures we had swing dancing & driving through Yellowstone & beyond! You’ve been an amazing part of this journey & a great encourager. Yes, you were worth he waiting, friend! 🙂

  • Rajdeep Paulus says:

    Great post Gina! I know your candid answers will encourage those of us on the journey with the writer’s dream. I know I was ! 🙂 And congrats on Digging Up Death! Yeah!!

  • Melissa Tagg says:

    Thanks so much for sharing, Gina. I love your honesty…

    I wish I could take back the season when I let doubt consume me. It was not a pretty time for me emotionally. 🙂 But then, yeah, there’s that whole “stronger for it” thing. And I think maybe I am….and it doesn’t mean I won’t go through future blah seasons and won’t need to learn the same lessons all over again…I can pretty much guarantee I will. But still… 🙂

    • Gina Conroy says:

      Melissa, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you these past few months, and I’m right there with you. Most often we go through the same things more than once. My excuse is my testadura, my thick Italian head… what’s yours? 😉

  • Evangeline Denmark says:

    Gina, thanks for your honest words. I’m with you in so many areas–the kids, the rejections, seeing critique partners get published before me.

    I think I have a winter home in Woe is Me. Of course it’s always winter in Woe is Me, right?

    But I have a summer home too, which is where the writing and the dreaming and all the best parts of the journey take place.

    I wish I didn’t bounce back and forth between my residences. Believe me, I’d like to pack my bags and live in the sun forever, but that is not how my journey has unfolded so far.

    I am so grateful for the community and support you mentioned. It makes all the difference as you’re plodding forward in the shadows.

    • Gina Conroy says:

      Ha, Evangeline! I might be your neighbor in the land of “Woe is Me,” but good thing we don’t have to take up permanent residence there! One thing I’ve noticed over the years, is that when I’m stuck in the land of woe, one of my writing buddies is enjoying the sunshine, and vice vera. I think God planned it that way to keep us going, and I’m so glad he did!

  • Gina, It’s easy to say that the journey is part of the process, just as much as the destination. But it’s hard to live it. God has different pathways for each of us. I’m just glad that yours has led you here. Congratulations.

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