Let’s Talk with Debra H. Goldstein

Changing Colors
by Debra H. Goldstein

When we moved into our house a year ago, the trees outside my office window were luscious and full of leaves in stark contrast to one dead tree that stood proudly in the midst of the greenery. In the Fall, the leaves fell, and all the trees more closely resembled the dead tree. Spring and Summer came and a comparison of pictures from the year before would have been identical except for a small tree blossoming in front of the dead one. Its leaves blocked the alabaster trunk that had made that lone tree seem so independent.

Recently, we had a few cold nights and suddenly the leaves are changing colors. Yellow and orange highlights dim the greenery except for the small tree. It not only still obscures the simple lines of the tree behind it, but it stands in glory in a splendor of red.

I love the copper shadings of the small tree, but I hate how it detracts from the one I fell in love with. Considering that I’m not going to climb over the fence, scramble down a hill, leap the drain/creek, and chop down the new tree, I’m going to have to accept it – even though I know that if it is as healthy as it appears, within a few years it will block my view of my favorite tree. Writing is comparable to the evolution of my trees.

One moment, an author sees a clear path to publication, but then a publisher goes under, a contract is not offered, or original ideas run out. No matter what the roadblock is, the writer must adjust. If one is not as flexible as Margaret Mitchell’s willow, one will find one’s career totally stymied. The irony is that the changes are as predictable as the annual changing of the color of the leaves. And sometimes, one must accept the beautiful replacement over what one was comfortable with.

Have you had to roll with changes in your life or career?

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Comments

  1. Love this post, Debra, and all the responses to it. I’ve had my share of rejections, changes, small presses closing down—but we persist. Especially interesting when you think that we all started out in another field entirely.

  2. maggietoussaint says

    Between publishers coming and going and my wandering muse, I seem to be constantly adapting. I love your comp between trees and publishing. There are seasons for both it seems! When ideas start thinning out, I’m not sure what I’ll do, but one thing I can tell everyone about retirement–I’m busier now than when I was working! However, since I’m doing the things I love, there’s so much satisfaction that the tired at the end of the day still feels glowing. Happy Fall, Y’all!

  3. Love those photos, Debra! What a great view. And how true it is that change is a natural part of life. I learned that lesson early in life when we moved every couple of years. Adapt, adapt, adapt. Once we stop doing that, the game is over. Who knows, maybe the new tree will be even more beautiful!

  4. I’ve had plenty of changes. When Dorchester did not pick up my option book after 4 futuristic romances, I turned to writing mysteries. When I got orphaned at Kensington after 9 books, I had to find a new publisher. My series got picked up by Five Star until they cancelled their mystery line. Now I am publishing independently and am happy to have control over all my works. No more waiting on the whims of publishers, getting paid only once a year, or having an 18 month gap between books in a series. I can publish when I want and at a price I want, schedule my own promotions, approve my own covers, etc. It was a good decision but not everyone’s choice.

  5. Diane A.S. Stuckart/Anna Gerard says

    I roll so much I’m always dizzy but, eh, that’s life. 🙂

    We have a joined pair of dead foxtail palms that still stand proudly in our yard, but only because a couple of pairs of woodpeckers make their nests there every year. We’re always threatening to cut them down but as long as the birdies keep using them we’ll let the trees stay (hopefully the blasted things won’t fall onto the house unexpectedly!)

    • I don’t know how you do all the things you do. I also understand leaving the trees there because of the woodpeckers. One simply can’t take away what has become their home.

  6. Ileana Muñoz Renfroe says

    What an amazing view. No wonder you are so inspired to write.

    • I find it very peaceful. In a few weeks, when the leaves drop, we’ll be able to see the houses behind us. I thought I wouldn’t like that, but I found inspiration watching one house and its owners in particular.

  7. Debra, I love the comparison you made between the trees and writing careers! My own publishing career has now spanned nearly 17 years and has gone through quite a few changes along the way–some wonderful and some not so wonderful. But then again, that’s life in general, isn’t it? We persevere, do our best, and hopefully come out stronger and happier in the end.

  8. cherylhollon says

    Hi Debra,

    I’ve found that a major career change every decade suits me perfectly. I can risk those changes because I have strong family support for whatever wild scheme I want to try next. Choosing to write mysteries definitely qualifies. My first book was published in 2015 — I feel an urge to pivot.

  9. So many changes! If we love writing, though, we keep going, which opens new windows, new visas.