Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Long, Long Journey by Shannon McNear

“Long long journey through the darkness, long long way to go ...”

The Enya song floats through my head as I reflect on my journey to publication. I’ve been writing one thing and another since third grade, and started my first novel at age fifteen. Revised that novel at least twenty times in as many years, through college and marriage and the births of several children. I shelved my fiction while my older ones were little, but the need to write came out in other ways. Through the last eleven years of writing with the aim of publication, when I still had babies, and homeschooled, and saw the older ones off to college. My oldest daughter was married three months ago, and I returned home from a writers conference a month ago to the news that after working mostly overseas the past two years, my husband was offered a job halfway across country.

I’m no stranger to writing in the middle of busyness and adversity.

Honestly, some of it I can’t take credit for. Writing has often been a compulsion for me, like a howling deep inside soothed only by shaping phrases and sentences and paragraphs, until I have whole stories. The constant chatter of characters inside my head has been a great motivator, as well. Writing has been my therapy through teenage angst, the death of my adoptive father, the stress of college years, the joy and uncertainties of friendships and early married life, the rigors of military separations and parenting, and the heartbreak of losing a child.

Those experiences have in turn helped shape the writing into something that might someday be worth reading. It’s often difficult to tell where the wife and mother (or daughter, or sister) ends and where the writer begins, since the discipline necessary for life extends to writing as well. Especially in the last decade and bit, I’ve had to learn how to sit myself down, still the worries, focus my attention, and let the thoughts and fingers fly.

Patiently honing my craft and then waiting for God to open the doors haven’t always been fun, but He has made the journey absolutely worthwhile. My first publishing contract didn’t come until thirty years after I started that first novel; and then after completing six other novels, it was on a story I hadn’t written yet—but it happened in such an absolutely memorable way, and was such a joy to write, it could only be God’s doing. I’ve received more rejections than I care to count, but I’m in a place of true peace about it. Companions on the journey went on to be published before me, but the friendships I’ve made in the industry are absolutely priceless.

Without this journey, I would not be who I am as a writer—and the real success is that I’m learning to be grateful for it.

I might be published, finally, but the journey isn’t over, not by a long shot.

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Without this journey, I would not be who I am as a writer. Click to Tweet
I might be published but the journey isn’t over, not by a long shot. Click to Tweet
I’m no stranger to writing in the middle of busyness and adversity. Click to Tweet

A Midwestern farm girl transplanted more than twenty years ago to Charleston, South Carolina, Shannon McNear loves losing herself in local history, especially the colonial era. When not sewing, researching, or leaking story from her fingertips, she finds joy in worship, women’s ministry, and encouraging whoever God brings across her path.

Her writing experience includes former interview coordinator and review editor for Christian Fandom, founding contributor of Speculative Faith, and founding member of the Christian Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog Tour. She's also served as area coordinator, southeast zone director, and local chapter founder and president for American Christian Fiction Writers. She's an active member of ACFW, RWA, and My Book Therapy, and a contributor to A Novel Writing Site [anovelwritingsite.com], The Borrowed Book [theborrowedbook.blogspot.com], and Colonial Quills [colonialquills.blogspot.com].

At the 2012 ACFW conference, to her shock and delight, she was awarded a first-time author contract from Barbour Publishing for her historical romance novella Defending Truth. It released September 2013 as part of A Pioneer Christmas Collection. Her illustrious co-authors for the collection are Lauraine Snelling, Margaret Brownley, Kathleen Fuller, Anna Urquhart, Michelle Ule, Cynthia Hickey, Vickie McDonough, and Marcia Gruver.

You can read more about Shannon at www.shannonmcnear.com.