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Guest Post: Charlotte Rains Dixon, author of Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior

February 18, 2013

Terry’s note – I am very excited to be hosting a guest blog post by my good friend and colleague, Charlotte Rains Dixon. I have known Charlotte for a decade now as a mentor, a fellow Spalding MFA in Writing alum, a Co-Program Director of The Writer’s Loft at Middle Tennessee State University, an author, a co-writer for literary magazine 2nd & Church, and most importantly, a friend. She and I both are currently mentors in The Writer’s Loft creative writing program and are planning literary events for 2013 and 2014 for the middle Tennessee area. She writes an essential newsletter for creatives that you can sign up for at her website and regularly conducts workshops, retreats and virtual classes.

Her latest novel, Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior is being released this month and I couldn’t be happier for her. So without further ado…Here’s Charlotte!

Finding My Own True North

By Charlotte Rains Dixon (

One of the things I love about Terry’s site is his tag line: finding true north.  To me, this conjures up a romantic image of celestial navigation—standing on the deck of a ship at night, looking up at millions of sparkling stars.   While I’ve been a writer for years, it took me a while to navigate through the stars to find my own current true north of novelist, blogger and teacher.

I’ve wanted to be a novelist since I was a child, but once I grew up, something in my subconscious decided this wasn’t a serious enough goal.  I mean, entertaining people as my life’s work?  Come on.  And yet, writing seemed to be the only thing I could commit to over the long haul, so I turned to more “serious” writing and pursued free-lance journalism.

Later, as my career morphed, I took up ghostwriting for business people, and out of that a natural outgrowth was coaching those who couldn’t afford the ghost writing.   This was good—I was writing, and making a modest living at it.  But I was confused.  I’d earned my MFA in creative writing and rose early nearly every morning to work on a novel.  Plus, I wrote a blog about creative writing.  And taught it at a Tennessee university.

Which was the real me?  Which arena should I focus on?  Should I go for love (creative writing) or money (working with business people)?  I felt like I was sailing for two different worlds, without a star in sight to guide me.   I decided (not all that consciously) that helping business people was what I should do—it was more practical and more lucrative to boot.  And so I signed up for a program that would show me how to do this at a higher level, reaching more people and making lots more money.

And I was immediately miserable.  The thing that made me happiest was that hour in the morning, when I rose early to work on editing my novel.   I was even starting to submit it to agents and publishers.  And I still spent a lot of time on my blog, where I attempted to write about creative writing and writing for business. During the day, I’d go back to my “official” self, striving to be a ghostwriter and coach to small business people.

Here’s the funny thing—I wasn’t very successful at helping business people.  The promised riches and clients didn’t appear.  And one day I sat down and looked hard at what I was doing.   It hit me—I didn’t have to be all things to all people!  I could just be me.  If only I could figure out what me really wanted.

The answer came immediately, as it always does when we slow down enough to listen.  Me wanted to be a novelist, and a blogger, and to help creative writers, not business people.

And so I switched focus back to my own true north, with my inner critic screaming all the way that I’d be broke and never get my novel published.  But I’m happy to report that, though the ride has had a few bumps, it is all working out.  Vagabondage Press published my novel, Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior, on February 12th, and now I can call myself exactly what my heart desires—a novelist, blogger and teacher.

So pay heed to Terry’s call to find your true north, because it will guide you exactly where you need to go.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 18, 2013 8:43 pm


    It helps so much to know that I am not the only one who has this type of dilemma! Wow, and you found the solution too. I’m so happy for you.

  2. February 19, 2013 7:09 pm

    Oh Sandra, I really did struggle with it for a long time! And there’s comfort in knowing that others do, too. I think truly figuring out exactly what you want to do in life is one of the hardest things there is. Seems like it should be so simple, too!

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