I know this may surprise some of you, but I'm a quiet person. Even though I have extensive background in the dramatic arts and enjoyed acting, I never really liked the experience afterward where one had to take a bow and be acknowledged. I have always been more comfortable in the background. Maybe this is because of my life experiences, my birth order, my horoscope . . . or maybe it's just me. ;)
I've always been a voracious reader. I can remember going to the library and bookstores. I would have a pile of books and be done with them in short order. My mom, not believing I read them so fast, actually quizzed me about specific details such as what was this character wearing when this event happened. I always knew the answer because every facet of the book was burned into my brain.
I know some people don't like saying that books are an escape.
But, for me, they were.
It was the same thing with acting. For a time, I could forget who I was . . . forget that I wasn't as "good" as everyone else. In the pages of a book, I would immerse myself in this world, these characters, this storyline the author created. It was never a conscious decision of me writing; it just was. Writing was just another extension of me . . . another part of me.
And I soon learned the power of words.
One time, in fifth grade, my teacher had a writing contest. Everyone would write a short entry, and he would read the entries out loud without giving name to the author. The prize was a quarter . . . or it might have been fifty cents. Either way it was the price of a bag of BBQ chips at the lunchline. I wrote a funny piece. The paper was collected. I remember sitting at my desk, my whole body thrumming, my throat dry as the teacher finally got to my paper and started reading it out loud. No one knew it was me but the teacher. And I was in half-fear, half-anticipation on what their reaction would be. The other students started laughing with the story. And, in that moment, I realized that I had some power with my words . . . that I could make others laugh . . . that I was good at something, maybe even better than most of the kids in my class, perhaps even school. It was as if sand had entered a crevice into a shell, and a pearl started to form and take shape, little by little, but still locked away. I ended up tying with the most popular girl in fifth grade for that contest. Which, I thought was rather ironic. The most popular girl and the least popular girl winning the same contest.
I was always writing. But writing wasn't a paying job. Everyone knew that. And I had some idea I could be a doctor, ignoring the simple facts that a) I was horrible at math and science, b) that I hated cutting up things, and c) that blood always made me rather squeamish. I was also reading a lot and watching classic movies and doing my schoolwork. I tried ignoring the voice inside my head that was screaming at me that writing was what I should do. Every time I tried to tentatively bring it up, I thought I'd be met with rejection, criticism . . . failure.
So I tucked it away. I would still write and took writing courses in college, but the writing dream seemed just what it was . . . a dream. It didn't seem possible, viable, and something attainable. It would never happen to me. I'd never been the lucky type so I ignored it.
Until I couldn't ignore it anymore.
Some of you know I was working at a tough inner city high school. I hated it. And I could feel my dreams slipping away from me like a bottle that had been tossed into the ocean, bobbing further and further into the distance. I would come home, frustrated, tired, and . . . defeated. Surely, there was more to life than this? Hadn't I partially gone into teaching so I could write on the side? Yet anything I did was snatches of words on paper . . . scribbles of nothingness . . . dreams I still kept locked away out of fear of not being good enough.
I came to a point . . . I don't know what really was the last straw to bring it on . . . but one day, I looked at my job and realizing that teaching wasn't my passion--that it wasn't my calling, and that if I didn't go after what I really wanted, I would regret it. And I didn't want to have any more regrets in my life.
You know how there'll be a day when you haven't eaten or drank anything? There might be a gnawing hunger and your throat might be slightly parched, but you think you're fine . . . that you don't need the food and drink. For one reason or another, you start eating and drinking, and you realize you were fooling yourself. That you had been starving and thirsty the whole time . . . that if you hadn't eaten that slice of pizza or drunk that glass of water, you'd be in a bad place.
That's how it was when I finally decided to start writing intent on the path of publication. I felt like I had been led into a banquet hall and there were so many choices before me . . . so many opportunities, and the future seemed so bright and, a little daunting, with all its possibilities. I didn't know where to go . . . how to start . . . I didn't know how to write a whole book---the most I'd ever written had been a few short stories and one-act plays---and I had no idea what queries, synopses, GMC, plotters/pantsers, manuscript format, length, etc. were. I just knew I wanted to write, and that I'd do whatever it would take to realize this dream of mine. Because sometime in that split decision, I had cracked open the shell and retrieved the pearl. It was luminous, beautiful, and I knew deep down, in the depths of my soul, I could write and do this.
For a person who never really believed in herself, never had that much faith, and liked to play it safe . . . I was going for broke. Of course I made mistakes. I've stumbled. I've been rejected. I haven't sold the book I worked so hard on. There have been some really hard, difficult moments that I didn't foresee coming. Of course I knew becoming published was extremely hard to do and I had no illusions about that, but some setbacks hit you worse than others.
But each time I was knocked down . . . every time I got a rejection or I had to tuck away a book or I received yet another editor rejection in my inbox from my agent, I kept thinking that one day it would change. That I would realize my dream and become published. That with enough talent, determination, and right timing . . . things would go in my favor. Hopefully it will. I believe it will.
And I also think of my younger self. The one who was so determined to not make any noise so she wouldn't get made fun of---who actually avoided using the word purple for a long time. I think of myself when I was a teen, who just wanted to be accepted and normal and part of the crowd but was instead at home doing work, reading, or going to Drama Club or other ones. I think of myself in college when I was in my writing courses and the glimpses I got that my writing was good. I think of myself in my early twenties when I had no idea what I wanted to do because writing wasn't a career, and I think of when I was in my mid-twenties and teaching and how unhappy I was. I think of how long I kept denying myself---at how I kept ignoring the hunger until I couldn't any longer. I remember the denials, the lies I told myself that it wasn't going to happen anyway, and that it was just a pipe dream.
I remember what it was like not to write. I remember how empty I felt. At how incomplete I felt. At how it felt like a piece of myself was dying slowly day by day.
I think it takes a lot of courage for people to pursue their dreams no matter what field it is. To face rejection, setbacks, and the possibility that it might or might not happen for them. But I also think that realizing a dream can and will happen. Just as long as you don't give up.
There are many reasons I write. Why I pursue this dream.
I write for myself. I write for others. I write because this is what I love to do, and I want to share my stories with other readers. I write so that when someone is having a bad day, they can hopefully pick up my book in the future and lose themselves in a good story. I write for girls and boys that were like me, who turn to books in a time of need, of want. I write because every time I start a book, it is a romance--the falling in love, the fights, and the happily ever after when it's all completed. I write because I know what it's like to lock yourself away and stay in the background. I write because I love literature, words, and the whole art of writing. I write because I love the discovery, and each time I write, I discover something new about myself, I grow, and I learn.
I write because I'm not afraid to dream any longer.
I write because I'm not afraid to go after what I want.
I write because I'm not afraid to say I'm a writer.
I write because I'm a writer.
I'd like to tell you to not be afraid and go after what you want. Only you can make that decisions . . . to leap off that cliff into the unknown. But, if you do . . . it's glorious, exhilerating, soul-growing, and even if it gets a little scary at times, even if the demons and doubts come out to play . . . you'll remember why you're doing this---why you decided to go after your dream.
Why do you write?