Everyone, no matter how talented, competent, or blessed, suffers from self-doubt at some point or another. But that doesn’t mean we must be trapped in our insecurities, and we should never allow our feelings of inadequacy overshadow our faith, because really, this journey we’re on is not about us and what we can or cannot do. It’s about what God longs to do in and through us.
So take a breath, release your grip, and embrace risk. Today my guest Bonnie Leon talks about what happened when she stepped out of her comfort zone and the incredible journey her risk-taking launched her on.
Take a Risk
by Bonnie Leon
If writers want to write they have to take a chance. The world is full of possibilities … but risk is required to obtain them.
I never imagined writing as a career until I stepped out of my comfort zone and attended a writing conference. I showed up feeling like anything but a writer. In fact, my primary reason for being there was to determine if I had it in me. Not just the skill but also the heart. During my growing up years I’d never dreamed of being a writer. And if it was part of me, wouldn’t the passion to write have shown up before the age of forty? That still puzzles me.
Feeling lost and somewhat like a wide-eyed child, I joined a line of conferees who were checking in. What was I thinking? I wasn’t a writer. Not like all the others … or so I thought.
With the help of kindly attendees and staff I was slotted in an Advanced Fiction class. I definitely didn’t belong there. I was a writing newbie. Quaking, I took my place in the classroom, very much needing a reminder that God was at work in my life. Sandy Dengler was the teacher. She was amazing and fun, and a great teacher.
The more hours I spent in the class the more certain I was that I didn’t belong there. The other students could actually write. I was just goofing around with words.
If the insecure part of me had taken charge that first day I likely wouldn’t have returned to class. But there was another piece of me that wanted to take a chance. I quieted the voice in my head that said I didn’t belong, and then I began to learn. Like a dry sponge, I soaked in the knowledge cocktail being offered.
It was an incredible experience. I spent time with lots of writers, published and unpublished. I took a risk and handed some of my work to the pros for critique. They offered great suggestions and encouragement. I was SO out of my league, but I didn’t care. This was a new beginning, and I knew it.
By the end of the conference I was ready to begin my first book. I connected with local writers and we started a critique group. None of us had a lot of experience in the writing world, but we fumbled along and managed to help one another.
The following summer I set off for the conference with my first ever book in safe keeping. I was about to reveal my work to editors and I was scared. What if they thought my writing stank?
On the third day of the conference I had an appointment with the acquisitions editor from Thomas Nelson Publishing. She was dog-tired. Certainly this wasn’t a good time to present my book. I nearly chickened out, but instead, with my heart pounding and my stomach tumbling, I waited my turn. It must have been a 100 degrees in that room and the editor didn’t look happy. At that point, I was sure she could chew rocks.
When my name was called I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I act like I was someone else … waiting for someone else?
On quaking legs I walked to her table. When I introduced myself I was surprised to see a warm smile. Hope lit up my insides.
While she read my first chapter, my mind told me how foolish I was. She’d likely say I needed to return home and learn to write. She set the manuscript on the table in front of her. I drew in a ragged breath.
“This is wonderful,” she said. “Is it finished?”
Had I heard right?
I told her it was completed and she asked if I could write a preface and send it to her with the first three chapters. I figured I could learn what a preface was when I got home.
That was the beginning. Thomas Nelson contracted me for that book, The Journey of Eleven Moons, and two others in the series.
If I’d been too afraid to take a risk it never would have happened. Has it all been successes since? No. But I’ve experienced many mountain-top moments and I’ve written and published twenty-one novels. I’ve learned to love the craft of writing and the beauty of story.
Dare to believe you can write and be published. Take a Risk.
The lure of the nineteenth-century gold rush calls to Erik, a civil-war veteran. He and Anna, his Aleutian bride, set sail for a new life together in Sitka.
Anna stands strong against the adversities of the new land with its unfamiliar culture and fearsome challenges. She fights her fears and the prejudice of others, while growing her newfound faith in the white man’s God.
When forced to move farther north and begin again, Anna refuses to give up, allowing nothing to stand in the way of her family’s happiness. They discover joy as well as heartache in the Alaskan wilderness. But will Erik’s love of gold put all they’ve worked so hard for in jeopardy?
Bonnie Leon is the author of twenty-one novels, including the recently released To Dance With Dolphins, the popular Alaskan Skies and bestselling The Journey of Eleven Moons.
Bonnie’s books are being read internationally and she hears from readers in Australia, Europe, and even Africa.
She enjoys speaking for women’s groups and teaching at writing seminars and conventions and especially delights in mentoring young authors. These days, her time is filled with writing, being a grandmother and relishing precious time with her aged mother.
Bonnie and her husband, Greg, live in Southern Oregon. They have three grown children and seven grandchildren.