People often ask me why my first book didn’t start out with my vision loss.
That’s a good question.
I started writing that memoir, Fading Light, several years ago. It began with my diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa and my decision to continue to teach overseas. The book would encompass the subsequent travel experiences. I worked on it for a few years and even received feedback from a professional author. But I struggled with that first chapter and kept changing things around. Progress was slow and grueling.
Then I met Joe, who wanted to share his love story but who didn’t know quite how to write it. He hired me as a ghostwriter. I had written all my life but soon discovered that I didn’t know much about writing a book.
I joined a critique group and they taught me the rudiments. I don’t think I’m the typical ghostwriter because they probably don’t ask for feedback as they try to write from the mindset of another person. The members said, “I’d never do it.”
Writing a love story from a man’s perspective was daunting.
But I had agreed to do it and needed to follow through. So I persisted and learned over the next year how to shape a book. When some of the group members got choked up and misty-eyed in the final chapters, I discovered I could write a compelling book.
With renewed confidence, I went back to Fading Light and started it out completely differently.
This time I learned while my critique group might like the fascinating details of a jungle experience, it alarmed my mentor in my online writing course. She bluntly said,
“My dear. if you try to publish it with this start, it will be the biggest mistake of your life. In fact, it will kill any potential commercial value your book will ever have.”
Why? I started with a flashback. And it was the world’s longest chapter!
“No matter how fascinating an experience one has, readers have to care about the character before they are thrown into a flashback,” she added.
I still had so much to learn!
I was not making any kind of living as a writer and needed an accountability partner. Frustrated, I hired a long-distance writing coach to help me set publishing goals.
God gave me a kickstart when I landed a speaking engagement as a keynote speaker at a ladies’ retreat in Ohio by way of my former college classmate. My writing coach encouraged me to prepare a book to sell after my talk. “You really need to capitalize on this opportunity.”
I had only five months to finish a book. The task seemed overwhelming.
“What about if I write something different? I kept a journal when I was learning to use my cane,” I told her. “It’s already written. It shouldn’t take very long.”
“That’s fine,” she said, relieved we finally had a game plan. “Let’s set the first deadline.”
I’m a slow writer and rewrite frequently. After the first couple of months, I could tell that I would never finish in time.
“How about if you shoot for a booklet instead?” my writing coach suggested.
I thought about it. A booklet might be do-able. So, A Step in the Right Direction was born.
As I wrote, God whispered life lessons into my heart and reminded me of my responses and emotions, and I started to make real progress. The booklet ballooned into a book again. It would never be done in time for the keynote talk.
Still, I became passionate about my message and my experiences.
One night while lying in bed and unable to sleep, it struck me that the real message of my book was how important mobility was to me and how my faith had changed through my struggle.
Choosing to learn how to use a cane to get around was not only something I struggled with but that many other vision-impaired people struggled with too.
God led me to this understanding: “This is what I want you to focus on. Share how I met your needs.”
And that wasn’t a mere step in the right direction. That was a major attitude and faith change. I had chosen to trust God in this area of my life. It needed a different title. I kicked around various titles in my head and suddenly the words came to me: Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith.
I knew that if I wanted to impact readers, I had to be transparent–faults and all.
I persevered. The speaking engagement came and went. I still had much to write. But at least I was on track.
My writing coach not only helped me stick to my chapter deadlines, she line-edited my work for clarity. Then I shared it with my critique group. Finally, passed it on to the mentor from the writing course I’d since finished, anxious to know if she felt it would be marketable.
I held my breath waiting for her response. She’d been in the market for over thirty years.
What if she said no one would ever buy this one either?
Finally, I heard back. Her email started with, “Amy, I so enjoyed your book! I hope you are going to go through a publisher because this can impact people and a publisher will give you a wider market…”
I didn’t want to wait for a publisher to choose my manuscript and decided to self-publish it.
I sent it to my beta readers and from their input, tightened the script even further.
God has guided me in writing this entire book. It’s been a long journey but with twenty-one 5-star reviews on Amazon, I believe that it’s the book God wanted me to write. He placed all the right types of people in my life so that I learned the craft of writing–and I still have much more to learn.
Writing this book taught me to trust in the practical application of the saying, “God never expects us to do what He hasn’t equipped us to do.”
He always has a plan. We just have to prayerfully ask for His guidance.
I’m not sure why God impressed on me to write Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith first. Perhaps, there is a greater need for it and it will impact more people right now.
People will read Mobility Maters: Stepping Out in Faith for lots of different reasons. Some will read it for inspiration. Some will read it because they can relate to the vision issues. Others will read it to see how vision loss impacts their own family. Yet others will read it to learn more about how one person copes with vision loss. People with mobility issues might be drawn to it for similar reasons. Friends and family might want to know about how I live my life. Finally, some just might like a good story they can’t put down with humor and emotion.
Only God knows what eternal impact it will have.
You have just read, Why I Wrote Mobility Matters, by Amy L. Bovaird. December 2014. If you would like to read more of Amy’s writing, you can find her recently published memoir Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith