My dream started many years ago. I can remember sitting at my parent's manual blue typewriter trying to type out short stories. My fingers would get so sore from the pressure required to push the keys down (perhaps a precursor to the arthritis I would later develop?). Thank goodness for correction tape. Lord knows, I went through more than my share. Yet, after all that hard work, I never seemed to be able to please my English teachers. My papers would come back with so many red marks through them; it was difficult to see the words I originally typed.
Math was my subject. I guess I always believed that people excelled either in math or in English, and so I decided early on that writing, whether as a career or as a hobby would not be in my future. Instead, I went into accounting, where I wrote with numbers, disappointed that my family’s DNA filled with artists, writers and musicians had passed right over me.
I married, had children and prepared taxes. (It was all so much fun, that I decided to repeat it a second time, with much better results on the marriage part.). During these early years, something happened. I heard a story on the news while I was pregnant with my oldest child that I could not get out of my head. I replayed the events repeatedly, changing the scenarios, asking myself “what if?”
Before I knew it, I had created an entire novel in my mind.The problem, however, was how to get it on paper.I tried several times to write my story, never getting past the first few paragraphs. Not being able to find my own voice was incredibly frustrating. I would put the story aside for years at a time, always with the intention that one day I would write my novel.
A funny thing happened over the past several years. I re-discovered reading. I had always enjoyed reading as a child, but once I started college, I found I had little time. After college, there was graduate school, which did in fact involve plenty of reading, just not the type that I had enjoyed. Then came babies and sleep deprivation, followed by toddlers and potty training. Before I knew it, my reading library consisted mostly of Sandra Boyton books (which I highly recommend, by the way).
Slowly, however, my time did become partially my own again and I began to make regular trips to the library. I read everything from the Harry Potter series to Ayn Rand (though admittedly I am still struggling to get through the 1000+ page fine print). At some point, I started paying equal attention to both the writing style and the story itself. I read books written in the first person, books written in the third person, books written as a series of letters, books written as diaries, and books written from several different characters’ points of view.
I felt I had a good grasp on what writing style I enjoyed and I decided to make the leap. I opened my laptop, and without hesitation started writing. The words flowed quickly, and within a month, I had my story. Not in any type of form where I was comfortable having someone read it just yet, but enough of a shell where I could go back and fill in details and depth. That was three months ago and I am still writing, revising, writing, and revising some more. I know my commas are not all in the right places and my grammar needs fine tuning, but those are all (hopefully) easy fixes. The real accomplishment for me was capturing my thoughts on paper.
A woman I ran into told me not to get my hopes up, that she, as a writing professional, had tried unsuccessfully to get her story published. She told me about all of the rejection I would inevitably face; all of the disappointment I would feel after putting so much of my self and my time into writing.
My response to her is now my mantra:
“I tell my kids all the time to dream big, so why shouldn’t I dream big as well?”