Tuesday, November 1, 2011

You Gotta Believe!

by Judy Merrill Larsen

Fears. Worries. We all have them. I mean, except for those who don't. Who always seem calm, cool, collected and above it all.

But, I'm not talking to them. And, besides, I'm guessing they are afraid of not seeming calm, cool, collected and above it all.

So, here's the thing. You have to have faith. You gotta believe. Just do it.

I can be the queen of (irrational) fears. Snakes. Satellites falling from the sky on one of my kids. Dreaded diseases. Can I just say that WebMD is not my friend? I've always been this way. I distinctly remember when I was 10 and reading all the Little House on the Prairie books. I had a cold with a bad cough. My throat was all congested. And some character in the book (a minor one) died of Diphtheria. So, of course, I diagnosed myself with Diphtheria and was a little put out that no one in my family was very concerned that at any moment I was about to die. I remember coughing quietly into my kleenex and thinking how much they would miss me and how bad they'd feel that they hadn't been nicer. And I was quite surprised when I woke up the next morning very much alive. I even mentioned it to my mom, who, when she stopped laughing, assured me that I did NOT have diphtheria and also pointed out that I'd been immunized when I was a toddler.

Oh well.

That didn't quite get rid of my hypochondriac tendencies. Suffice it to say that I've diagnosed myself with cancer more times than you can imagine. My doctor just shakes her head when I tell her my latest diagnosis (always grim).

But, deep down, I believe that no matter what, I'll be okay.

Just like deep down I have faith in my writing. Even when all I seem to be getting are rejections. I have faith in the kindness of people even when I see lots of evidence to the contrary. Because giving up just isn't an option. Sure, some family and friends probably shook their heads when I kept submitting queries. I mean, I'd been rejected over and over and over again. But all it takes is one yes. And I eventually got that yes. I have faith in the future of publishing. People love to read. So they'll continue to buy books. Maybe more and more will be e-books. Or paperbacks. But people are still reading. So, I'll keep writing.

You never know. That's the key. And that's the wonder of it all.

Let me give another example . . . on August 25, the St. Louis Cardinals were 10.5 games out in the National League wild card race (there was no way they were going to win their division). They were toast. But you know what? They didn't count themselves out. They went 18-8 in September and on the last day of the season, won the wild card. Then they went on to beat the Phillies and then the Brewers in the playoffs. Two teams with better records and home field advantage. Okay, so heading into the World Series, NO ONE picked them to win it all (well, other than my husband and sons).

But, they won it all. They believed in themselves. They didn't give in to naysayers or prognosticators or their own self-doubt. They didn't diagnose themsleves with diphtheria. They just played with heart and faith and guts.

That's all any of us can do. Live with heart and faith and guts. Write with belief. And heart and faith and guts.

I have a new manuscript I'm putting the finishing touches on. And I believe--deep down where it really matters--that it will find the perfect editor who will love it as much as I do. It won't get diphtheria because my belief will immunize it. I mean, if the Cardinals could do it, so can my book.

What's your diphtheria? What do you need to really believe in?

I live in St. Louis, MO with my husband, am the mom/stepmom to five kids (ages 18-26), and taught high school English for 15 years. I'm over on Facebook and Twitter . My first novel, ALL THE NUMBERS was published in 2006.


  1. what a lovely hopeful post.My fingers are crossed for the new novel.

  2. Thanks, Karin. ( Mine too . . . which makes typing and adventure!)

  3. Judy
    I enjoyed your post. Lately my faith seems shaken and stirred--yet I still write. I await the joy to eclipse the jaded (as I know it will). It is a journey--a compulsion--this need to tell stories. Thank you for the post and the positive thoughts within your sentences.

  4. Beautifully written, Judy!!
    I think we all go through those periods of doubt but, also, draw inspiration from success stories when we can remember to pay attention to them. Wishing good things for you with this new manuscript!

  5. Judy, I think we were hatched from the same egg of doom! But I love your attitude! Great post!

  6. Terrific post, Judy, and now I'm wondering if it's the writing life that makes us crazy worriers and hypochondriacs or the craziness that makes us writers!

  7. Nice post. Especially for a day when I wonder why I even want to do this. And love the Laura Ingalls Wilder books too.

  8. Yes, Judy! You've just got to believe and push through. What a wonderful post to remind us of that!

  9. Best wishes for your new book! I have no doubt whatsoever that it will land, safely, where it should (and in the best hands for it).

  10. I believe Judy! Sending you good vibes for your new manuscript too!

  11. Oh, I'm so sad that I didn't get to meet you in St. Louis. That game really was amazing and inspiring, wasn't it? And thanks to you, I'm doubling down on my belief in my writing. Here we go, Girlfriends, here we go!

  12. LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE remains a fun and interesting book for readers of all ages.