Turning Your Pain into Prose
Why to keep writing, even during your most painful seasons
Hello Friends and Fellow Unknown Authors!
We are thrilled to announce work has begun our first anthology. We were wowed by the submission applications we received, and are genuinely excited about the authors who will be part of our first publication.
As we move forward with the book, we will keep you up-to-date on our progress and how you can support what we’re doing.
Exciting times, indeed!
Now…on to this month’s newsletter!
Rising Above the Rejection Pile
Stories of writers, authors, agents and others who are reframing rejection and creating new ways to get their words out into the world.
by Jodi Cowles
“I have tried [to write a children’s story] myself but it was, by the unanimous verdict of my friends, so bad that I destroyed it.” - C.S. Lewis, in a letter to a friend about The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
My mother used to sit in the hallway between my room and that of my younger brother at bedtime and read to us from the Chronicles of Narnia. I’ve read the series several times as an adult, but it was nothing like hearing the stories as a child, when I laid in bed and my mother’s soft, calm voice wove images across my mind.
I’m not sure there’s another book or series that has wormed its way into my consciousness as much as Narnia, so much so that I use some of the vernacular in normal thought and conversation — Aslan, the stone table, further up and further in…
A hundred million copies of the Narnia series have been sold, but there was a time when C.S. Lewis threw his first chapters away because he was so discouraged with how it was going and the negative feedback he was getting from trusted friends.
I find that so encouraging!
I also found it encouraging to read recently in The Narnian, by Alan Jacobs, that Lewis was in the throes of one of the worst and most painful seasons of his life when he finally found his way with the Narnia books.
Out of his greatest suffering, Lewis wrote something that has entertained, encouraged and challenged several generations, across multiple languages and cultures, for almost 75 years. The sales figures are impressive, clearly, but as a writer I think what encourages me most is more fundamental than the numbers.
C.S. Lewis took his deep suffering and, instead of guarding it or ignoring it, poured it into his work. And because of that, his words — the deep waters from which he wrote, the knife-edged clarity of language, and the rampant creativity — make a deep connection with his reader.
Whether it’s one copy or a hundred million copies, isn’t that what we’re looking for when we write? That the words that bubble forth — whether from joy, pain, confusion, gratitude, or grief — would penetrate deeply, move a reader to some sort of response, or cause them to pause and ponder and remember our images long afterward?
So let’s keep going Unknown Author Friend, further up and further in!
Hello! My Name Is _____
Each month we introduce you to some of the best unknown authors you haven’t yet read. We can’t wait for you to meet them...and, better yet, read them!
by Rachael Mitchell
Amplifying the voices of Unknown Authors is the heartbeat of our mission. We see the power in hearing from writers who are at various stages of their writing and publishing journeys.
Here are a few authors we think you should know:
Dani Nichols (@wranglerdani, @buzzthenotsobrave) is a nonfiction and children’s book author who writes to survive and to communicate beauty and truth to her audience. Her soon-to-be-published children’s book, “Buzz the Not-So-Brave” is written for kids age 4-8 with the goal to demystify the things that scare horses–and humans–with a joyful, compassionate look at what it takes to be brave. Though Dani experiences the life of an unknown author as lonely and yearning, she relishes in the creative and beautiful aspects of it too. Read more of Dani’s work at wranglerdani.com.
Bethany McMillon (@bethanymcmillon) is part of the Kindred Mom editorial team, and has written a number of articles for their blog. In addition, her work was published in Kindred Mom’s book, “Strong, Brave & Beautiful: Stories of Hope for Moms in the Weeds”. Bethany loves the craft of selecting the perfect word, is inspired by her son, and usually has a cup of tea or coffee close by. Though she isn’t currently in the middle of a project, she’s contemplating what’s next, and weaving together small moments to find big meaning. Read more of Bethany’s work at bethanymcmillon.com.
Stephanie Broersma (@reclaimedministry) is a non-fiction author with a specific mission – to help women recover after being betrayed by marital affairs. Drawing on her own incredible story, her book and ministry has helped many women heal. Her favorite place to write is her local used bookstore/coffee shop, and she describes a characteristic of an unknown author as steel: your emotions get tossed around after hearing frequent “no’s” or “not yet,” and a strong backbone becomes vital to the process. Read more of Stephanie’s work at reclaimedministry.com.
Do you know an unknown author who deserves a shoutout? Tell us about them so we can feature them on social media and in an upcoming newsletter!
The Write Stuff
From what we’re reading to tips for life as an unknown author, we’re opening the book on what inspires us.
by Leslee Stewart
Have you heard the news about author, business and marketing guru Seth Godin’s latest endeavor?
After reading the book, Ministry of the Future, a science-fiction novel about the global impact of climate change, Godin was inspired to take action. He posted a request on his popular daily blog looking for writers, editors, designers and others who would be interested in putting together a collaborative book on the topic of climate change.
While Godin clearly has the clout, connections and collateral to put a book like this together on his own, he wanted to do create something that brought people together from all over the world - a collective that eventually grew to 300 people, all volunteers, from 41 countries assembling a 97,000 word book - with illustrations - in 120 days.
The book will be released on July 12. Entitled “The Carbon Almanac”, it is a collection of information and resources on the science of, impacts from, and solutions to climate change, compiled by a worldwide team of “writers, researchers, thinkers, and illustrators.”
And all proceeds (including the entirety of the advance) are being used for promotion and for spreading the ideas in the book (like buying 100,000 trees in Madagascar - 10 trees for every one that’s cut to print the book).
And (surprising) the author of the book isn’t Godin (he only wrote the forward). Rather the author is the network of 300 volunteers who poured their time and energy into creating the book.
Reading about this endeavor, I couldn’t help but smile at the similarities between Godin’s efforts and our own here at The Unknown Authors Club:
...Godin wanted to create a book that would be both a useful resource and an example of collective action.
This is similar to The Unknown Author Club’s desire for creating something that we want to be part of (through our anthology/social media/writing community).
... Godin admits that the topic/approach is niche. He knows it won't impact everyone, but it will impact someone.
This is very much what we are doing at the UAC. Our focus on life as an unknown author is niche, but to our audience who live that life, we believe our anthology will encourage and inspire them to keep writing, and maybe inspire those who have yet to begin.
...Godin is making sure that the volunteer authors get the spotlight, not him. And advance monies are being invested into the climate improvement efforts, a direct goal of the project.
I appreciate that he is making space for others and using funds to pour back into the cause. We're using all proceeds from our upcoming anthology to reinvest into the UAC to grow awareness and hopefully have more authors participate in future anthologies!
There were many more takeaways I could mention, but the bottom line is this — We are on to something special here at The Unknown Authors Club. Making space for others is at the heart of why we exist. Thank you for joining us on the journey and helping us celebrate unknown authors everywhere.