You can definitely tell I’m an 80s girl obsessed with pop culture trivia from the 1980s when I reference a famous scene from television show Fame in the title of a blog post. I don’t mind being called an 80s girl.
Watching Fame on my parents’ t.v. was one of the most exciting times in my life in-between the kiddie stages and the adulthood stages. That whole pre-teen and teen scene was exciting. Today, Fame brings back so many pleasant thoughts, like my impermeable memory of Debbie Allen driving her stick into the dance floor as she growled words of wisdom to frightened dancers. Anyone remember that from the opening credits in Fame?
That scene may be cheesy to some, but to me, it is a classic reminder that pushes me to the next level. “Fame costs. And right here is where you start paying…” On Fame, the artistic types all wanted fame. They all wanted to go to Broadway to be the best dancers, musicians, and artists. If they wanted to be the best, there was no getting around the hard work, toil, sweat, and tears that were required to get them to the top. That meant pushing themselves hard and submitting their imperfections to Mistress Debbie Allen who guided weak bodies into rocking dancers with perfect form.
I feel the same way as the artistic types from Fame. I don’t just want to be a “writer” like thousands other so-called writers and bloggers out there. I want to be a writer of distinction who is known for standards of excellence, precision, and hard work. I want my name to be synonymous with quality writing and meaningful messages. If I am to bring “A Slice of Faith” to the masses, which I hope to do, I must push myself to achieve the highest standards of writing and storytelling, as no one else will ever push me to achieve my own dreams.
I had a chance to prove my chops recently. I had been taking a class, Author Training 101 from Nina Amir, and received an assignment that knocked me off my block. Yes, folks, I fell squarely on my bottom and was none too pleased about it. The assignment was to write a book idea in such a way that incorporated the essential elements of a book proposal.
To say that the assignment was overwhelming is almost as bad as me saying I hit rock-bottom financially, which I did, ironically. I had never heard of a book proposal and was unaware such a thing existed. Just goes to show you how naïve and “green” I am about this whole business of becoming a published book author.
To make matters worse, I had fallen behind in my coursework for Author Training 101 and was simply not able to read everything I was supposed to read, participate in the webinars, and read drafts of the book by the same name. It was just too much for me, my motherhood duties, and my current writing obligations. Nina Amir was very unhappy with me and did not realize I had fallen so behind. She kept telling me that I was not getting the full value of the class and that I should go back and reread the class materials before submitting the book idea assignment.
Well, let’s just say that I didn’t have time to do all that. I was on deadline with this assignment and if I was going to have my work read by acquisitions editors who would provide real feedback on my book idea, I had to pummel through this exercise like a scorching knife through butter. In other words, I had to bring Debbie Allen and her ominous stick into my life so that she could shake some sense into my head and push me to that next level.
No small feat, ladies and gentlemen. The book idea assignment was hard. It forced me to provide an overview of “A Slice of Faith” before finishing writing the book itself! Good Lord, how is that even possible? Well, it wasn’t easy, but I ended up using a nonfiction book proposal template that laid out the essential elements of my book idea. The template made it easy for me to incorporate the relevant information in a properly formatted manner.
Working on my book idea on a daily basis, sometimes for two hours at a stretch, I finally managed to finish my assignment, which turned into a full-fledged book proposal. It took me two solid weeks of concentrated research, writing, and soul-searching to rise above my head and see my book idea from the perspective of an overview. It was a great deal of hard work and perhaps the most arduous assignment I had done since law school, but I am so happy I completed and submitted it.
Keeping Debbie Allen and her menacing stick of determination and drive at bay pushed me to the next level, just as I had hoped. It pushed me to finish my work and I was so proud of myself with that accomplishment. My stubborn, willful mindset helped me focus and achieve something that none of my other classmates did – - the writing of a full-fledged comprehensive document known as a book proposal, which was way more than the original book idea assignment.
Because I went ahead and completed the whole book proposal, I was prepared for the next step. In all honesty, after finishing the assignment, I just wanted a break so that I could sit down for five minutes in peace while I rested on my laurels and drank a cup of coffee in celebration. Nope. A rest period was not in the cards for me. Why? Because opportunity came knocking on my door right away.
Shortly after I turned in my book proposal assignment to Nina Amir, I received a timely e-mail from Writer’s Digest announcing the names of literary agents who were open to submissions. I read everything from Writer’s Digest anyway, so it was no extra effort on my part to scan through the list of literary agents just to see if by chance, one of them was interested in inspirational nonfiction. By George, there was.
Would you believe, ladies and gentlemen, that I took my finished book proposal and submitted its relevant sections to a literary agent? I’m still surprised at myself for having the guts to do that, but I did it. Sometimes, the cerebral, logical part of me gets trampled by the fiery enthusiasm in my soul, and this was one of those moments. Why should I wait until every single last piece of the puzzle is in precise, exact order and formation before submitting it? I don’t have another five years to squander opportunities and wait for perfection. I did enough of that in my life already.
The time is right for me now. My heart has told me. Debbie Allen has told me (in her own special way). And most importantly, God is telling me that my time is now. I believe it. I always act on my beliefs.