Friday 3rd July 2020

Women Of Courage Series. #34. Rebecca Bowyer. 27/2020.

Women of Courage Series. #34. Rebecca Bowyer. 27/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda.

 

Rebecca Bowyer and I have never met ‘in real life’ but we have connected via our blogs way back as part of “I Blog on Tuesdays” a regular link up for a very long time that many Australian bloggers would remember with affection. Rebecca who is 39, offered me some advice way back in 2016 when I first had the idea it was time to document my life story. Initially feeling daunted by the notion of writing a whole book (with me at the centre of it) Rebecca offered me this piece of wisdom. “Write a chapter at a time as if it is a blog post”. She mentioned our friend Mrs Woog did that for her book “Primary School Confidential” and then it all seems do-able. So, I am always grateful for this advice….and to know this woman, a determined and published author! Congratulations on your book.

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

I published my first novel, Maternal Instinct, in 2019. The lead up to this single event comprised dozens of smaller moments of courage. If my courage had failed at any of these moments, I would not be a published author now.

First, I had to give myself permission to be creative. Finding the sustained creativity required to write an 80,000-word novel meant stepping aside from family responsibilities for periods of time over the course of more than a year. It meant taking a chance on a project that might amount to absolutely nothing but hours of ‘wasted time’ if it didn’t find a publisher.

Next, I had to find the courage to send my completed manuscript out into the world. I was very fortunate to find a literary agent all the way across the world in New York. I then held my breath and kept going through more than a year of rejections and a couple of almost-acceptances from publishers.

By early 2019 I wanted to sweep the whole thing under the floor and forget I’d ever tried to be an author. My agent was still positive about finding a publishing home for the manuscript, but I’d decided to draw a line under this chapter of my life. First, however, I decided to publish the novel myself. I couldn’t stand the thought of all those ‘wasted hours’ if I just let it go.

So, I took another deep breath – more courage required!

You need capital to publish a book. I had none, so I raised the funds via a Kickstarter campaign. Most start-ups have investors, but knowing that didn’t make it any easier to go out, cap in hand, and ask people to believe in my project enough to back it financially.

After the funds were raised, the book was professionally edited, designed and printed, and I sent it to reviewers. This was the point at which I nearly fainted dead away from fright. But a book needs reviews and recommendations to succeed, so out it went.

I was relieved and very excited when comments came back such as “Amazing debut” (Emily-Jane Clark, best-selling author of Sleep Is For The Weak) and “Fans of The Handmaid’s Tale will be instantly hooked” (Virginia Franken, author of Life After Coffee).

On 7 October 2019 Maternal Instinct was published in Australia, the U.K., U.S.A. and Canada. For a natural introvert like me, book promotion is a rather horrifying prospect. I spoke at the book launch, did podcast and written interviews, spoke on three panels at Conflux 15 in Canberra and did book signings at festivals such as Bendi-Con and Mornington Peninsula & Frankston Writers & Book Festival.

Before every single event I had to make a deliberate decision to either show up or hide under my desk. I’m pleased to say that I managed to show up, though I was exhausted by the end of it all.

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

I feel much more confident about carving out time for creativity, without feeling the need to justify it by making money or becoming the next Margaret Atwood. The best thing about writing and publishing a book is the community of writers and readers. It’s such an incredible exchange of creativity, ideas and stories and I’m so thrilled to be a part of it.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

The most important thing I learned about courage is that it’s not a finite resource. A series of small courageous acts can give you the confidence to try for bigger courageous acts.

The second thing is learned was to focus on the positives but also embrace the negatives enough that I can sit comfortably with them.

My successes and my failures have taught me so much. Over the past few years I’ve felt like a failure because my book didn’t find a traditional publisher; because I didn’t sell a million copies; because it’s not available in bricks and mortar bookshops. All of those things still sting a little, but I’m comfortable with owning them now.

I’m comfortable because I’m learning not to focus on the failures, even though it goes against all of those niggling anti-courage voices in my head. (“Don’t be so arrogant, why should you publish a book? See? You sold less than a million copies. You failed. I told you so. You should have just stayed home and folded washing.”). The main thing is that I wrote and published a novel. That’s huge! That’s a very brave thing to do. (Take that anti-courage voices.)

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

Writing and publishing my first novel has given me the confidence to write and publish more stories. In 2020 I’ve got a short story, ‘Practice Child’, coming out in Deadset Press’s Stories of Hope anthology to raise money for bushfire charities. I’m also putting the finishing touches on my second novel and am itching to start writing my third.

I’ve faced all my fears about putting my creative writing out there – rejection, ridicule, failure – and I’ve lived to tell the tale.

Publishing a novel has helped me understand why I want to keep writing. It’s got nothing to do with ‘success’ or ‘achievement’, or even fame or fortune.

I love to write, and there are readers out there who love to read what I write. All the bits in between – finding an agent, finding a publisher (or publishing it myself) and book promotion – are simply the journey I have to go on to get the story from my head to readers’ heads.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

Finding courage can be hard. Something which helped me was careful planning and risk assessment. I wanted to make sure that, if I failed, my failure wouldn’t cause the rest of my life to implode. I didn’t quit my day job and I didn’t go into massive debt.

In the end, what I was really risking was my creative self-esteem and hundreds of hours of my time.

If you’re still finding it hard to press the ‘Go’ button, even after you’ve put in the hard work and planning, try channelling Drew Barrymore and her glorious silver wings from Ever After: “Just breathe.”

Heartiest of congratulations to you. Check out Rebecca’s social media links too.

Thank you for sharing.

Denyse.

 

 

Social Media: 

Blog/Website: www.storyaddict.com.au

Twitter: @RebeccaBowyerAu

Facebook Page : www.facebook.com/rebeccabowyerwriter

Instagram: @RebeccaBowyerWriter

 

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

 

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Comments

  1. Hi Denyse and Rebecca! I do remember you Rebecca from back in the IBOT days but I had no idea you’d published a book. Congratulations! I look forward to clicking on the provided links to learn more. All the very best with you 2nd, 3rd and future books! You’re on a roll! 🙂 xo

  2. Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au says:

    Hi Rebecca – congratulations on successfully publishing your book – and all the hoops you had to jump through to achieve it. I haven’t the slightest idea how to put so many thousands of words together – or how to generate an idea that would warrant it! So I’m always impressed with those who do. Good luck with the new one you’ve almost completed.
    Denyse, thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM

    • Rebecca has done well but it also comes at a price. Nevertheless she persisted as the saying goes. She was blogging way back too in the early days of the Australian blogging community and it is good to see her achieve this.

      Thank you Leanne.

      Denyse.

    • Rebecca Bowyer says:

      Hi Leanne, thank you so much :-). To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how I managed to put together thousands of words either! I think it’s the same with any large project – focus on one tree at a time, don’t get overwhelmed by the entire forest.

  3. A great story of ultimate triumph: over self-doubt and all those little inner voices that carp and try to hold us back. So good that you prevailed, and got your story — your book — out there, and more to come. #MLSTL

  4. Congratulations, Rebecca on your book publication! All the best with your future books. Thanks, Denyse, for introducing Rebecca to us. #lovin’lifelinky

  5. Congratulations. I’d agree that publishing a novel is one of the hardest, scariest things you can choose to do. It completely lays you bare.

  6. Congratulations and publishing a novel is no mean feat that is for sure. I agree that putting the focus on the positives in life especially at the moment during this time of upheaval with CV, is important to reduce our stress and anxiety. Thanks Denyse and Rebecca for sharing your story at #MLSTL.

    • Back when Rebecca wrote her responses we had not even heard of COVID19 but here we are, making the best of what we can. Rebecca remained true to herself achieving this goal…and more to come.

      Thank you Sue.

      Denyse.

    • Rebecca Bowyer says:

      Absolutely Sue. We’re all going to need to be women of big courage to get through the next few months. Take care of yourself xxx

  7. I have read Rebecca’s book Maternal Instinct and thought it was great! Congratulations for going it alone so to speak Rebecca! I even wrote a review on Goodreads when I finished it. I loved reading Rebecca’s story and agree finding courage is hard. I have just received my first rejection letter after sending a story to a few places, and it was interesting how I’d prepared myself for it so wasn’t even too disappointed! Thanks Denyse for sharing Rebecca’s story, it was fascinating! #mlstl

    • Rebecca Bowyer says:

      Oh thank you Debbie! And thanks so much for taking the time to leave a review, I really appreciate it.

      Congratulations on receiving your first rejection letter! 🙂 It signals the beginning of your journey to publication xx I hope it’s not too long a journey!

    • Awww sorry about your first rejection letter…but who had the courage to put the work out there? You did.

      Happy weekend…and enjoy your community’s special event.

      Denyse.

  8. Hello Denyse. Thank you for introducing Rebecca and her story of courage to us.

    It’s so nice to “meet” you Rebecca. I can relate to much of what you said. I too gathered my courage and wrote my first novel. I haven’t yet decided what to do with it, and I am inspired by your experience to reconsider my next steps. I especially appreciate you pointing out the courage is not finite and often shows up in small cumulative acts–not always one giant leap. Lots of luck on your next novel!

    • Rebecca Bowyer says:

      Hi Christie, congratulations on your first novel, it’s such a huge achievement! I look forward to hearing about you gathering up the courage to send it out into the world so we can all enjoy it x.

    • Go Christie. Words of encouragement from Rebecca too. Onward as they say.

      Denyse.

  9. This is by far my favourite interview in your series Denyse.
    Well done Rebecca. A journey I have followed and cheered on from the sidelines. I bow to you and how you brought your dream to life. xoxo

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