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Beat Your Own Drum

By Deborah K. Anderson
(Original version published in CFOM, December 2011)

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. ~Henry David Thoreau

I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum, at least I thought I did.

When I first started writing, I hadn’t yet learned the rules of this craft, so as far as I knew, there weren’t any. My long, bony fingers flew across the keyboard like a wild horse galloping through fields of clover, the wind tousling my mane. Boom. Boom. Boom.

Within a short time of posting one of my nonfiction stories online, an editor from a major publishing house in New York contacted me to bid on a fiction project. Can you imagine? I’d never written a novel in my life, let alone done a book proposal, but I decided to give it a go. What could it hurt?

I searched for examples on how to write the dreaded synopsis. In less than a few weeks, I had a proposal assembled. After I mailed the package, my little drum picked up its pace. Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom.

Within a few months, I received a personal rejection letter. At the time, I didn’t know this type of correspondence signified good news at all. All I knew was that I’d been turned down.

The nerve.

I spent the next few years studying the craft, not to mention trying to emulate what other authors did, you know, so I could be successful, just like them. And do you know what happened? My shenanigans knocked me right out of my saddle.

My drum stopped beating.

Don’t get me wrong. I learned valuable lessons along the way, things like plotting, formatting, and all the other “ings” that have to do with writing.

But I lost me in the process. All of my creativity sailed away like a runaway kite in the air on a hot summer day.

I should have taken a course on how to buy a clue.

Horseless, kiteless, and clueless, I finally figured out that God didn’t want me to be like everyone else. He never did.

There’s nothing wrong with learning from other writers, or educating ourselves in this craft, but when we forget who we are, like moi did, it can become a problem. God doesn’t intend for any of us to be a carbon copy of someone else.

If this has happened to you, it’s time to get back on your horse, gallop to those faraway places, and stimulate your mind. Your horse, I repeat, not some other writer’s stallion, mare, or colt. It will never work out otherwise. I should know.

After reading this, though, I’m convinced you’ll do what’s right. I mean, who wants to end up like I did? Scary thought, isn’t it?

Well, I have to go now. It’s time to saddle up old Whiskers and ride.

Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom.

Deborah K. Anderson
Deborah has written for Focus on the Family, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and numerous other publications. She is a member of TWV, ACFW, CWG, SCBWI, and FCW. She recently completed a supernatural suspense novel for young adults. You can contact Deborah at: DAnderson955@aol.com. Visit her blog at: www.deborahkanderson.com.

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3 Responses to Beat Your Own Drum

  1. LOVED this, Deborah, and I couldn’t agree more!! Boom on, girl, boom on!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

  2. Michael Ireland says:

    Thank you, Deborah, for this most wise piece of advice. As a reporter for many years, I’ve been struggling for more than 20 of those years on whether or not to write a memoir or tell my story as ‘faction.’ You have helped draw me back to the center so that I can write my own story in my own way — as me, and not anyone else I may admire or emulate.

  3. Deborah K. Anderson says:

    Julie:

    Thanks so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    PS. Love your books, girl. Wish I could write like you. Oh, wait, I’m supposed to stop doing that, aren’t I? ;-) Boom. Boom. Boom.

    Michael: It blesses me to know that this helped you out. Always remember, there is no other voice like yours.

    May God bless the work of your hands as you write this book. :-)