But for me, as I’m sure it is for many whose minds are inundated with stories begging to be told, I often asked myself the very same thing. Do I do it? Do I simply go for it? And the most pressing one: When?
Let me back up a little, and start from the beginning-that pivotal moment when I realized maybe I had a talent, a knack for prose. No, not trying to sound cocky, but I do believe each of us has a gift or talent that should be shared in some way. I just managed to peg mine early, first grade to be exact. That was my moment in time when I knew no spelling bee, no grammar test, and no essay would send my mind a-whirling and my a-stomach churning. Research papers beware! English was always my best subject, and my first grade teacher recognized this, setting me aside and letting me write stories while the rest of the class labored away at other subjects like math(I’m sure this is why I still use my fingers to count). And even then, the limited capacities of my seven year old mind understood the reasons behind me being singled out: I was good at something.
I still have the book I wrote in first grade. It was about a boy who lost his dog, and even though he was miserable, he kept up the hope that his beloved pooch would come home. My teacher typed it up, laminated the pages, and even bound it for me with book rings. It was special, and I can remember my heart brimming over with pride at my accomplishment, and to be honest, it still does to this day. I often take that little book out and read it when I need a reason to keep fighting for my dream. (And believe me, if you are trying to get published, you will need a talisman against a little demon I like to call discouragement).
But then something called life happens. Even though my love for reading and writing made most of school a breeze, I didn’t have too much use for it after I graduated college. The career choice I made was nutrition, stupidly I might add, and it required little creativity, if none at all. Science is so concrete, so unyielding, that my imagination was limited to deciding what color of pen to use while jotting down a client’s diet in their chart. Why didn’t I go the English route, you might ask? Easy- I figured there was no money in it, no way to support myself and make a living. And maybe there isn’t, but years don’t only add wrinkles and cellulite, they add wisdom and insight. Had I known then what I know now, I would have forfeited whatever fortune I thought I would make with science, and lived in a shack eating beanie weenies the rest of my days-as long as I was writing. Writing is happiness. Creating characters and plots and conflicts and resolutions is my paradise, my true happy place. And for some reason, which I have deduced is fear, it took me until I was twenty nine years old to figure this out.
So now I can go back to where I began this informative little tale. I had taken myself out of the nutrition field, for reasons better left unsaid here, and gotten a job as a glorified secretary at a large outdoor retail store. This job afforded me long, boring hours sitting at a desk staring at a computer screen, or doing something else monotonous, like working the registers or stocking the sales floor. Needless to say, having the wondering mind that I do, I would day dream, concocting stories in my head to kill time, or at least make it more bearable. One of these daydreams turned into a week-dream if you will, then a month-dream, until I could do nothing but think of this story. It was in the forefront of my mind every minute, nagging at me until I was eating, sleeping, and taking showers with the darn thing. It just wouldn’t go away. What used to be a getaway was now a leech, draining me of all desire to do anything but think of this story my imagination had so carefully pieced together. And then I had an epiphany.
Maybe I should write this story down.
Ha! Easier said then done, I would think. Where do I find the time?
Make the time!
But I don’t have a computer.
But what will everyone say?
But how do I do it? Do I simply go for it?
You have to start somewhere!
And my answer folks, is NOW.
This is my advice to my fellow starters, those in the beginning throws of the publishing phenomena that is often called ‘breaking out’: just start. Don’t do as I did and waste valuable time asking silly questions that truly get you nowhere. The matter is, if you believe you have a talent, and there are stories in your head worth sharing, don’t doubt yourself. Don’t worry what others will think(only the publishers/agents), and don’t wonder if you are doing the right thing or not. If it’s meant to happen, it will.
That begs the question: why am I qualified to give this advice? Because I’ve been there, that’s why. I’ve started from scratch, borrowing a computer and googling everything I could about writing a novel. I’ve bought countless books on creative writing and how to get published. I’ve badgered my husband about getting a laptop until he scraped up the money and surprised me with one (which I lovingly call ‘The Money Maker’). I’ve shirked wifely and motherly duties for months on end to pen what I knew in my heart was a real story, not merely just a daydream. I’ve spent hours writing synopsis after synopsis, query letter after query letter, until I was nearly cross eyed. I’ve submitted to publishers. I’ve gotten the rejection letters. Then the hard work and hours spent in front of a computer screen paid off when I got an offer from a publisher. My book SEVEN DAYS NORMAL is now in print for the world to read. That, my friends, is a joy I truly hope every writer gets to experience.
Anyways, that’s how I can give advice. I feel I’m obligated to. I WANT to share my journey, even if only to help a handful of fellow dreamers like myself. You’ve got to start somewhere, and I did, and I couldn’t be more happier for it.
To Write or Not to Write?
Never let it be the question.
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