As a local business owner, there have been a lot of big days circled on Liesl Hays’ calendar in the last few years. However, the most recent was December 7, 2021; the day the fledgling author launched her new book Broken, Changed and Rearranged..
Hays’ plans were already set for that Tuesday - she was going to march into the bookstore, proudly grab hold of the pages filled with her courageous words, and purchase it.
“Absolutely,” she said, “I am going to go buy it and take a picture of it. I’ve already pre-ordered on Amazon, but I am going to a bookstore on December 7 and pick up the book. And buy it.”
Hays owns the Historic Browning Guest House in downtown Lee’s Summit and while endeavoring to author her first book, she embraced a transformation some aspiring writers avoid - dramatically changing course while in the midst of writing.
What started as a book to encourage successful leadership and human resources strategies evolved into a book that was equal parts vulnerable, terrifying and fulfilling, as Hays opened up to share her personal journey.
“The initial writing felt forced,” Liesl said of her original concepts. “As I started to write, I realized I was writing about the wrong topic. It wasn’t the right book for me to write. I decided to let go of my ego and write the book I was meant to write, not the book I initially wanted to write.”
When she did, Broken, Changed and Rearranged was born. Although initially uncomfortable, Hays committed to daily writing and embraced the stresses and stumbling blocks authors face.
“I had a lot of anxious dreams about it before my copy arrived,” she said. “I dreamed I hadn’t written enough and my publisher had to add a lot of photos to fill space. When it arrived, it was a huge relief. I realized this is something I had truly accomplished.”
She didn’t accomplish producing the publication alone, though. As the content of the book shifted, Liesl needed to lean on her family, husband Harlen and children Mady and Ethan, for support, as well as veteran writer and friend Trisha Drape. They were there through her initial struggles and encouraged her when she felt discouraged.
“I needed to process through the change in topic and focus with my husband. When I initially talked with him, I inwardly hoped he would say no. That would have given me the pass to not write about my experiences, but when I explained that I thought it might be helpful to others to read about my journey, he was totally supportive. After that, I started trying to storyboard it out and became very frustrated,” Liesl said. “But my friend Trisha said, ‘Stop overthinking it. Write the story, and we’ll figure out what order it all goes in. After that, it all started to fall into place.’”
Drafts later, the end product wasn’t just a book; Liesl herself had been impacted by getting her story down on paper.
“It finally felt right, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t terrified at sharing the story,” she said. “I was scared. I needed to work through it with my family. That wasn’t an easy conversation. I wanted to make sure my kids didn’t read my story in the book; they deserved to hear it from me before the book was published. I believe this book was meant to nurture healing in other people. My goal in writing it, for people going through crisis, is that they have someone they feel like can relate to.”
Broken, Changed and Rearranged is available on Amazon and at Target, Wal Mart and other local bookstores.