I love reading stories about how other writers got started on their writing paths, because it makes me realize AGAIN what holds us all together as writers! So many of us have similar experiences, yet many of them are very unique–and they all have brought us together in this world of writing and sharing our stories with our readers.

I had written the “book that started it all” for me–my “baby”–trouble was, by the time I finished it, it was WAY too long to be published (for a first time author).  It’s around 284,000 words!  (But who’s counting!?)  I sent it off (FINALLY!) and of course, it was rejected by all the agents I sent it to, except for three.  Those three wanted to see something shorter.  That’s what made me get busy and write the “next” book–another western, but different characters and MUCH MUCH shorter.  I got an agent and was sure that that book would be “the one” to be published.  But, no.  I was already working on book # 3– another western.  When I shipped it off to my agent, again, it was with high hopes and crossed fingers.  He wrote to tell me that “No one reads westerns much anymore.  Have you got anything different?”

My husband had very graciously been “standing by” all this time while I had more or less taken a
break from working to write.  He was starting to get impatient about the way our money was at the time, and I was worried, too.  I went back to work part time, first as an emergency serivces operator (911) and then as a “guard” in the National Cowboy and Western Heitage Museum here in Oklahoma City.
My husband was not happy about me switching from the 911 job to the museum, but I knew I had to do it for self-preservation.  It was not nearly as much money per hour, but the pressure was not as tremendous either.  I enjoyed working there.  And as time went by, I realized that it was where I neededto be.

For whatever reason, I found that people who came through the museum were willing to open up to me and talk about all kinds of things–I don’t know if it was because we were strangers and they felt safe about telling me about old emotional wounds, knowing they’d never see me again– but even my co-workers noticed it.  No, it didn’t happen every day, but I’m thankful that I was “there” for them when
it did happen.  It’s hard to explain in an e-mail, but I felt like I was where I needed to be for those 2 years that I worked there.  The Viet Nam vet who talked about losing his best friend, the man whose father got him out of going to Viet Nam who blamed himself when his best friend was killed over there, the couple who had married, divorced, and then remarried after TWENTY YEARS, the man who had never made peace with his father before his father passed on. . . and on and on.

What does that have to do with writing?  In a way, it took the focus off — and the pressure– to crank
out that next book and hope that it would sell.  I realized that I would be writing, whether my books sold NOW, LATER, or NEVER.  I was a writer, and that was what I loved to do.  I was forced to quit the job at the museum due to a bout of poor health that year, and I never went back to work there, but I made some lifelong friends among my coworkers that I never would have met had I not worked there.  I gained a new perspective on my role as a writer, and what writing meant to me.  It was not a “job”–it
was something I’d been doing, literally, since I could hold a pencil.

 I’ve gone on to write several full length novels, and that third one I wrote (the western that “no one is reading anymore”) was the first one I sold.  Fittingly enough, the heroine is named for my daughter Jessica, who is my biggest fan, and the hero bears the same last name as my dear friend and supervisor at the museum, Martin Turner, who has since passed on. (The cover at the left is the 1st cover my book had when it was published with The Wild Rose Press. The one below is the new one it was given when it was reissued with Western Trail Blazer.)

It all connects.  Success is measured in so many ways for so many people, but for me, that little
“detour” of 2 years at the museum was filled with cherished memories, and I think it helped me as a writer in so many ways.    At the time, I saw it as something I had to do to help the family financially, but now, I realize it was not just the money I earned– it was the building of friendships, and helping others, and learning more about human nature and healing the spirits of those who confided in me in whatever small way I could.

I’m still hoping to sell the ‘book of my heart”– that 284,000 word saga– but if I don’t, I’m okay
with it.  I enjoyed writing it, and I will probably still be working on it, rewriting on it, cutting and editing on it forever.

What got you started writing? Any budding writers out there who want to share their experiences? I love it that we are all brought together by this wonderful fove of writing!

All my books and short stories are available here: http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

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A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work: http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson
I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 40 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors--you can contact me here: fabkat_edit@yahoo.com
Follow me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cheryl.pierson.92


  1. Thank you an enlightening post. It is always interesting reading about an authors path to publication and how their love of writing developed. That your first work was 284,000 words long is amazing. I am sure it taught you a lot as will the reworking of it.. I look forward to seeing it published. It seems life gets in the way at times, but in your case, it was in a good way.
    Best of luck with your writing career. Look forward to many more enjoyable books from you.

  2. Hi Cheryl! What fun to hear your story! I’m in awe of your first ms. 284K words is three books in one, but you know, I remember the days when long books were the thing.

    Your museum time was special, too. Such good memories 🙂

  3. Hi Cheryl,

    It’s always so encouraging to hear authors share their stories.

    Your job at the museum sounds fantastic! What a source of inspiration for ideas! And 284k? Wow! I need to get to typing. :o)

    I’ve always enjoyed writing, which served me well getting a degree in history, but I never thought of putting all the stories in my head down on paper until two years ago. A friend started her first book, and in looking up sites and things that might help her a light bulb turned on and I knew writing was my calling. I started listening to the voices in my head and putting their stories down on paper. I know I couldn’t stop if ordered to do so, whether published or not (although I’m hoping for the published).

    Thanks for the encouragement today!

  4. I am not a writer but I love hearing how writers got thier start or why they write the books that they write. Most of all I enjoy reading!

  5. Hi Cheryl, I have to laugh at today’s title blog. Did you ever see THE PRINCESS BRIDE? (With a lisp,) “Marriage. Marriage is what brings us together today!”
    I have to watch it at least once a year to have a good laugh.
    284k words? I can’t get past 40k. I try and try and can’t do it. One of these days I will get past the novella and get to be with the big boys (girls).
    Thanks to all of you “fillies” I get more enthused on doing more, now that I see I’m not the only one who struggles. Love you all.

  6. Cheryl, it was such fun to read more about your writing journey. The best advice I ever got about writing came from my daughter who told me Elmore Leonard got rejected more than 80 times before selling anything. Yippee. xoxox

  7. Cheryl, I loved reading your story. It’s bound to inspire many. We fillies were probably all told at one time or another that westerns didn’t sell–I know I was. Glad none of us listened.

    Take care!

  8. Patricia,
    Thanks so much. Yes, I didn’t put a lot of the “other stuff” in this–it would have been too long! But suffice to say–raised my husband’s kids, then partially raised our two, too, along with the things real life throws at everyone, and working, trying to find my way as a writer for those first years, and so on–lots of ups and downs–that’s what everyone endures. I have promised myself that next year is going to be “MY YEAR” as far as getting that first ms. down and reworking it into publishable material–the good news is that so many strides have been made in the publishing world now–self publishing is also available where it wasn’t before, if I can’t find someone to take such a long book. LOL

  9. Mary C.– YOU CRACK ME UP! LOL Ain’t it the truth? But that story, wow. I still love it and want to get it out there, and one of these days I’m going to do it. I’m purposely keeping my “promises” for next year down so I’ll have time to work on it. Thanks for commenting!

  10. Vicki,
    I still love long books–like the Gabaldon books–those were just wonderful, and I don’t know if you ever read that series by Celeste duBlassis (hope I spelled that right) but those were good. The length of a book really doesn’t discourage me from reading it, but I know it’s not really “in vogue” any more…just hoping when I get this one out and dust it off, I’ll be able to cut some of the stuff out of it and make it more marketable. LOL Thanks for commenting, Vicki!

  11. Kirsten,
    I’m so glad the “light came on” for you with your writing! It’s never too late to start, even if you hadn’t thought of it until, like you say, you were helping someone else with their project–what a great story that is! So many good stories to tell and so many ways to do it–everyone has their own style, don’t they? And I did love my time at the museum. I hated to leave that job. I met a lot of wonderful people there.

  12. Connie,
    Thank goodness for readers like you–otherwise, there’d be no reason for us writers to tell our stories, would there? LOL Thanks for commenting today. Keep on readin’!

  13. Mary J.–NO! LOL That makes me laugh just reading it the way you have it written. I must go rent that movie now and watch it. Oh, believe me, you are not alone in your struggles, for sure! Every writer struggles–it certainly is not easy, and one of the most frustrating things a person could ever do– but also one of the most rewarding. Keep at it! I’m glad to be of encouragement to you!

  14. Tanya,
    I used to have list of famous writers and thier rejections. I think Stepehn King had something like 400+ and Louis L’Amour had 700 or something like that. So glad you commented! I know you are busy.

  15. Margaret,
    It used to hurt my feelings–now it makes me mad when agents and publisher say that. It just isn’t true! There are plenty of people who read and love westerns and western romance! Thanks so much for commenting today.
    Hugs, my filly sis!

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