In the first grade, we had a “professions” fair and costume contest. One guy dressed up as a farmer and won. Go figure. Though, he did have straw sticking out of his overalls and a straw hat, too. In the concrete jungle in which I lived, that was a novel costume. Where I live now, that’s just Thursday.
I was wearing a plaid skirt and a white button-down shirt. I honestly had forgotten about the whole costume contest. Since the participants were able to skip class, I immediately jumped up and said I was dressed up for the event. My teacher looked at me dubiously, but placated me and asked me what I was. I grabbed a pencil off my desk. “I’m an author.”
With those three words, I was able to join the farmer in the costume parade.
Every time I take a new path in life, one way or another, I end up falling back to writing.
Every. Single. Time.
Whether it be by fate or conscious choice, I somehow always ended up in a situation in which the written word was my bread and butter. Reporting intern, technical writer, sports reporter, movie critic—I was writing. Even running the blogs that my friends begged me to do, I was still writing.
When I met Nora Roberts fourteen years ago, I remember telling her that I had a novel in me. Somewhere. I’m sure she has heard that so many times before, and I don’t remember, but I bet she rolled her eyes before she told me to “just keep writing.”
Over the years I’d write, then stop for whatever reason. A year and a half ago I pitched the absolute WORST novel ever written in the history of the written word (just ask me!) and got one rejection and said, “Nope, not gonna do it again.”
The problem is, when you’re a writer, you can’t stay away from writing for long. It’s like a pull, a calling that is beyond rational understanding. Voices in your head that scream, “WRITE ME!” So, despite the many times I said, “I’m not cut out for this,” I quieted the voices in my head and put my fingers to keyboard and wrote. Then I wrote some more.
My New Year’s Resolution this year was to get the courage to submit some of what I had written. Before that, I got the courage to ask a complete stranger to beta read for me, and she’s now one of my dearest friends and the one who keeps me going despite rejections.
There were times I wanted to give up.
Times I cried and said I didn’t even know why I bothered.
Then the first acceptance rolled in.
Today, marks the culmination of the most amazing few weeks for me—I have signed four publishing contracts. Two for short stories that will appear in anthologies, one for a novella, and—drumroll please—one for my novel.
It means someone else out there read what I had to say and believed in it—and that means everything to me.
It took twenty-nine years, but I finally made six-year-old me proud. No longer an excuse to get out of class, I can proudly say that “I’m an author.”