I don’t consider myself a typical writer, though I suppose there isn’t a such thing as a “typical writer.”
I have been writing stories since before I knew how to spell, and the love of writing has been with me my whole life, as much a part of me as my arms or my heart. I wrote when I was inspired, when I was discouraged, when I needed an escape from reality. I wrote through break ups, through family drama, and through my ongoing illness. I am 19 years old now (this month) and have completed three manuscripts (that should never see the light of day) and one that was worth possibly sharing. I finally had characters, and a story, that were so real and so strong they practically wrote themselves, and then they jumped off the page and took up permanent residence in my head (whether I liked it or not). I’d been writing all my life, but I finally had a story worth telling.
It’s a terrifying thing, to take something that is more or less a piece of yourself, and expose it to the world and the possibility of rejection and hurt that comes with it. But finally, I did–slowly, at first. My notoriously optimistic and cheery cousin, who gushed about it and couldn’t wait for more. My best friend. Snippets here and there, not enough to be harmful. It was enough positive feedback to boost my spirits, but not enough for me to truly put myself out there. The publishing process seemed like Mount Doom on the horizon, and I didn’t have enough courage or lembas bread to get there.
Then I met my friend Lindsay Cummings (author of the upcoming book The Murder Complex as well as the Balance Keepers series) and when she asked to read my book, I was terrified. Here was someone with experience, someone who knew what she was doing and was in no way obligated to tell me nice things about it to make me feel better. But, with sweaty palms, I sent her the first chapter. I think my heart stopped for the whole hour it took her to read it. Then I read her response, and my heart stopped again. She liked it? Like, a lot? It seemed too good to be true. I’d never given much serious consideration to having anything published. It seemed an unrealistic and unattainable dream, so I crushed it before it could take root. But here she was, telling me I was too talented not to publish. Surely this was a dream! But after rereading several more times, I finally convinced myself it was true.
Maybe I did have a chance at climbing Mount Doom, after all.
It’s been a roller coaster for me, and a huge learning curve, to educate myself in the publishing process, and to tackle the transition from passion to profession. I have finally allowed myself to dream of actually becoming an author, and now it’s a need so embedded in me it is as much a part of me as writing or my arms or my heart. Not because it seems like a cool job or at least way better than a 9-5, but because I have a story that I have to share–whether it is with 50 people, or 50,000.
So far, I have sent out 7 queries, and will be attending my first writer’s conference in May. I am still overwhelmingly inexperienced in this field–and perhaps, have no qualifications to be writing this blog–but I hope that there are others out there at the start of this daunting journey that are as overwhelmed as I am. When I first sent Lindsay my manuscript, I thought–What the hell am I doing?
What am I getting myself into?
If it had been up to me, I would never have shared my manuscript with anyone. I would never have been anxious, or rejected, or discouraged. I would have curled up with my coffee and my dog and my books, and been perfectly content. But my characters and my story, with all their vibrance and life, would have been stuck forever on the pages of my computer screen. And that’s not fair.
I hope you can share in my experiences, my mistakes, and my triumphs. I hope that I can inspire, encourage, or at the very least entertain you so that we can climb our Mount Doom together. So I invite you on this messy, overwhelming, terrifying, exhilarating roller coaster ride, and leave you with this:
Now let’s kick Mount Doom’s ass.