For all my adult life (and many of my immature teenage) years, I wanted to be a writer. Not just a writer, a published writer, one with multiple books on the shelves and readers and professional contacts and editors and an agent and oh, let’s not forget, people asking for my autograph. You know, the big dream.
It took a very long time for any of this to happen. I still don’t have an agent (I’ve got a few prospects) but I have signed a few autographs! For friends, really…but they count, right? The rest I’ve also got, though it doesn’t always fit the glamorous picture I created in my head when I was younger. I’ve grown up a lot since then. The reason it took me so long to get here is because I was simply lazy, uneducated, and unwilling to put in the time and effort it takes to be where I am now. When I say ‘lazy and uneducated,’ I mean I didn’t choose back then to understand or study the industry, I didn’t care enough to learn every in and out of the mechanics of writing, and I wasn’t trying to make connections and contacts. I wanted the big dream so much but I didn’t know exactly how to achieve it and I didn’t get off my butt to find out. I also hadn’t honed my writing to the point it’s at now–and I’m quite willing to admit it needs to be sharper yet.
Life got in the way, many times over, and so did my own self-doubt and fear of being a failure. It’s funny that I was so afraid of going nowhere I just sat still. I don’t know what exactly happened to give me a kick in the pants finally, but I did change a great deal as a person over a singular, extended period of my life and I think my revamped way of living during that time gave me a new perspective. I was ready to learn, to work hard, to figure stuff out. I was finally willing to accept you don’t just slap words down, send them off to an agent, and become a millionaire. At least, most people don’t.
I think the key point is now I not only work hard, but I’m much more willing to learn than when I was young and delusional. I ask questions, seek answers, talk to other people, listen to my editors, watch what successful authors do, and listen in on what readers are saying. I try to take it all back to the page and make some sense of it. This is what I want to do with my life after all, and sometimes the reality is much more strange and awesome than the dream.
I have an old journal post that I wrote during one of the periods in my inexperienced, young maudlin life when I was flinging myself around in despair convinced that I’d never be a ‘real writer.’ I’m thinking about printing it out and framing it next to my first book cover. Looking at it would not only make me chuckle, but nod sagely.