One massive helping of "you can". That's what I glean from today's contributing author. I've known this individual since 7th grade. She and I are beautifully so very different and with one human exhale of collected oxygen, so very much the same. We love words. Deep-like, they rest in us. They move our bones and settle the beats that effort life under our skin. Pressing letters is our kinda love.
Today's guest author is made from cloth both genuine & efficient. I knew this about her as early as 7th grade. We sat caddy corner to one another in Mrs. Richardson's English class. And while I spent my fair share of time during lecture marveling at how precise Mrs. Richardson could style-set her hair almost to perfection everyday, the girl with the big eyes and infectious giggle, did not go unnoticed.
She was a quick study. Fast to retain and even faster at completion. A whiz who held rank right up with Tara Groves at how quickly assignments could be finished. In awe, I would sit just diagonal from her poise and steady calm. Yes, even in 7th grade.
It was important for me to ask this human to be a part of this 31 day celebration. Not because we are best pals or have one another's phone numbers logged in as favorites, but because she inspires me to be wholehearted with my dreams. She lives out those same breathes of genuineness & efficiency now just as she did before driver's licenses, wedding veils and April 15th tax deadlines. Authentic has always had such a style about this woman.
Please make welcome Mrs. Carrie Sparks McClain to the blog.
When I was asked to participate as a guest blogger for the amazing Mrs. Cobble, I couldn’t imagine why she would even ask me other than the fact that I had asked a favor of her the month prior. See, I just self-published my first book and I needed feedback from people that I knew would be honest, but not too harsh. Meghan and I were in school together many years ago and recently found each other once again through Facebook. What a miraculous invention, Facebook. Anyway, she agreed graciously as I would have expected. Then came the request to write something for her blog saying, “I am choosing to ask people whom I love as people and/or writers: inspirational individuals in my life. You will give light to so many who dream, but are afraid to try.” No pressure there, right?
She said to choose a word that meant something to me in my life. I thought of inspirational words such as “dream”, “live”, or “imagine”. Then I focused more on my writing process “relentless”, “roller coaster”, and “journey”. But after a trip to our local McDonald’s with my daughter, it became clear.
We were in the drive thru line having already paid at the first window and waiting to gather our quick meal at the second, and the radio was playing one of my currently favorite songs by Jake Owen “We all want what we ain’t got”. As he belted out those words, from the back seat my precious six year old answered “Yet”. Now, granted she was talking about the here and now and how she didn’t have the chicken nuggets that she wanted yet, but it made me think. Often times there are things that we do dream of, imagine having, want to be a part of, and wish for in the future. But how many times do we put the ideas aside because we believe we won’t make it, before we even begin the journey, the roller coaster ride, or have a chance to be relentless about something.
I’ve had a number of side jobs in the past fifteen or so years, selling Avon, Pampered Chef, and Real Estate. I’ve had hobbies, scrapbooking, photography, and painting. I’ve even tried to be more involved in community, church, and school functions. Although I enjoyed each venture, I hadn’t found the one thing I was truly looking for…yet.
I can’t say that I always dreamed of becoming a writer. I had written lyrics to songs since I was in second grade, had written my fair share of papers for school, and then written some short articles for the local newspaper, nothing that would make me a book author. I talked about it for a few years, but had that creeping fear in the back of my mind I think every new writer has. Where to start? I had no formal creative writing experience; my degree was in media writing, journalism, and music publicity.
But once I had decided to take on the challenge, New Year’s Day 2012, I found a determination I didn’t know existed. I began with something as simple as an event during my teenage years that I wanted to make into a complete story. I researched other authors and their writing habits, developed an outline, and began to write.
I found I had a passion for words and being able to create something from that was a wonderful outlet. I didn’t just find time to write, but made time between working a full time job, making dinners, cleaning house, being a wife, and being a mother. It became important to me. I had found something new that I truly enjoyed. I have to say that I was lucky enough to have a supportive husband who understood the importance of writing in the moment when you have an idea. If he saw me sitting in the oversized living room chair with my head bent over my laptop, he would try to distract my daughter, answer the phone, turn down the television; whatever he believed would help me to stay focused.
Then after two years and three drafts it was complete. Now what? I didn’t know anything about publishing. I didn’t even know if the book was any good. That episode of Golden Girls kept floating through my head, you know, the one where Blanche stays up all night writing her life story, then she lets the other ladies read it and it stinks to high heaven. So, I played it safe and let two close friends read it. Both agreed that it needed to be published.
I decided the most important things to me were to have creative control, be able to work on my own timeline, and to make it available to family and friends.
If the book made it beyond that, it was icing on the cake. So, I chose to self-publish through Amazon and the rest is…well, I don’t know yet.
Now, my days are still filled with work, family, and house cleaning, but every once in a while I sit down in my chair with my laptop and write. My husband doesn’t have to ask what I am doing, he knows.
My daughter doesn’t wonder what is going on when the family packs up and goes to a book signing, she finds her box of mommy’s business cards and helps set up the table at whatever coffee shop, bookstore, or other venue I am having my “meet and greet”.
It has become a part of our lives just like PTO meetings and swim meets, music and movies, princesses and minions. See, if you want to do something, you should just do it. If you want to write, then write. If you want to sing, then sing. If you want to dance, then dance. The rest will fall into place and you soon find that the best…is yet to come.
Carrie Sparks McClain is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, where she majored in public relations. She has enjoyed working at Sewanee: the University of the South in undergraduate admissions for many years. Carrie began her writing career with the occasional article for her local newspaper, before challenging herself to finish her first novel. She is currently working on the second book in the Walker mystery series. She resides in Tennessee with her husband and daughter, where she enjoys cooking and music.
*To open all 31 gifts in this month long celebration, please bookmark this link.*