Resharing a post from several years back, a post meant to inspire then and now I offer it again to inspire all those writers who came to the writing life later in life. Like many of you, I had a successful career in another field, mine was psych nursing that by the mid 1990’s burned me out. I just couldn’t continue working on locked units anymore and so during my kids’ ‘wonder years’ I shifted to the writing life that began in my youth. My first byline earned at age eleven. Back in those days, a kid from where I came from didn’t dream of the writing life, rarely, unless supported by parents. While mine were entertained for a moment that my ‘opinion piece’ was published in the Chicago Sun Times, they sure didn’t encourage me to develop my neophyte skill set so I continued writing ‘in the closet so to speak.
I met Fran Weaver at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference where since 2003 I deliver writing workshops. Back then, I was a SBWC conferee in awe of just about everyone who wrote the kind of prose I hoped to write someday. Fran was a breakout star of SBWC. Though still self publishing her stories, all traditional publishers had rejected her queries, her work was catching on. She was invited to keynote by SBWC founder, Barnaby Conrad, when her first memoir, The Girls With Grandmother Faces, began selling quite well despite its self published stigma.
Fran didn’t start writing for publication until she was in her late 50’s and after her husband died, a woman old enough to appreciate that if she waited for traditional roads to take her work where she wanted it to go, into the hands of readers, she’d likely wait forever. She kept writing and self publishing. I hung out with her every year that she attended SBWC, buying her coffee or lunch and listening to her wise words about life and writing.
She had some money, enough to travel with her books in tow, speaking to groups that related to her subject matter, growing older. My kids were still school age then but I felt old, too old to begin a new career in writing, mostly because the majority of my contemporaries had been studying the craft since college. When you haven’t studied the craft of writing, it’s easy to fall into the self doubt doldrums where I was when I first met Frances Weaver. Her own road to publication inspired me to continue practicing the craft just as she had done. When you switch gears in midlife, you may not get the support you hoped for but if you love what you’re doing, don’t stop. That’s the gift Frances Weaver gave to me.
Before long, and due to the great local press she garnered on her book tours, traditional publishing ‘discovered’ her. She went on to publish and republish all of her books through traditional presses as well as snag a role on The Today Show as their senior correspondent.
Check out her books. Her first ‘The Girls with Grandmothers Faces’ I so enjoyed even though I did not relate to the ‘grandmother’ part back then.
I do now.
Writers, if you need inspiration, pick up one of Fran Weavers books. I consider myself privileged to have known her back in the day. She made a difference in this writer’s life and hope these words shared about her road to publication make a difference in yours.