Heather W. Cobham believes everyone needs to share a part of themselves with the world.
As I continue to grow as a writer, I seek advice from those with more experience. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received so far was from Zelda Lockhart, leader of a weeklong writer’s workshop I attended. She told me, “It is your job as a writer to get your story out to your readers. The writing process is not done until this has happened.” She was vehement that if you had the inspiration to write something, fiction or non-fiction, there was always a reader out there who needed to hear your message. This advice stayed with me as I continued writing and kept me motivated as I figured out the maze of publishing options.
Since publishing Hungry Mother Creek, readers have shared how my novel touched them. Some were entertained by the story; some gained a new perspective on their marriage or relationship with their parents; others realized they needed a community of supportive women in their lives. Getting this feedback reinforced the time and effort it took to publish and made me grateful I hadn’t let my fear and self doubt stop me from sharing my work.
My life has also been influenced by writers. Sarah Addison Allen’s novel Garden Spells, inspired me to begin writing Hungry Mother Creek; Maya Angelou’s memoirs taught me about strength, self confidence and persistence and John Steinbeck’s travelogue, Travels with Charley, was the catalyst for my bicycle trip across the United States after college graduation. I’m thankful these writers finished the job and shared their story with me, their reader. My life would have had a different trajectory if these writers had not chosen to publish their work.
I believe the directive I received to “get my story out there” applies to everyone, not just writers. We can all make a positive difference in the world by sharing our unique gifts. It may be a novel, song, or piece of art but could also be the ability to teach a special needs child, to help a client find the perfect house, or to secure a loan for an entrepreneur. Pay more attention to what evokes passion and enthusiasm and less attention to what others expect of you and you will be lead to the “story” you are meant to share.
I encourage everyone to follow the advice I received. When you are inspired to do something new or innovative in your personal life, creative life or your career, overcome your fear and follow through with this inspiration. Your work here is not complete until you share a part of yourself with the world.
To the outside world, it looks like Maya Somers lost everything in Hurricane Katrina, her husband, the bungalow they shared and her job. But inside Maya knows Katrina gave her the gift of a fresh start. She and her yellow lab, Doodle Bug, leave the destruction of the Gulf Coast for North Carolina and settle in Oriental, a quaint fishing village on the Pamlico Sound. In her new home by the water, Maya begins to rebuild her life. She knows she needs to heal from her abusive marriage and the trauma of Hurricane Katrina but isn’t sure where to start. It isn’t long before teachers appear to help her: Hazel, her elderly but spirited neighbor who has secrets of her own, Travis, a handsome kayak guide to whom she immediately feels a strong attraction, Buster, a crusty old fisherman who always seems to show up just when she needs him, and Bay Witherspoon, the much younger wife of a wealthy attorney who becomes a close friend despite their initial differences. Maya finds the most profound help when she is welcomed into a women’s circle that meets on the banks of Hungry Mother Creek. Gathered with these women, Maya learns that becoming vulnerable and sharing her pain with others is the first step of her healing journey. But what is the second step? Maya isn’t sure but with the help of her loyal yellow lab, her new friends and the peace of living by the water she stays the course. Ultimately Maya finds the healing journey to be messy, tangled and unpredictable, and the end result is nothing she could have ever imagined.
Heather W. Cobham’s debut novel, Hungry Mother Creek, is a story of love, loss and the healing power of speaking your truth. She lives in North Carolina and works four days a week a counsellor and use Fridays and the weekends for writing.