Some events in your life are watershed moments and this, for me, is one of them. Today I became a published author!
After 15 years of earnest faith slipping into ragged disbelief turning back into faith again (the latter primarily because of the unflagging support of family and friends), I can say with a strong, proud voice that I have done something I have dreamed of for years.
The feeling of euphoria coursing through my veins seems to have negated the few hours of sleep I logged last night waiting for this moment. It is a birthday present coming two days late and a Christmas gift arriving 25 days early.
When all the technical aspects were said and done, in the spirit of Walt Whitman, I did “sound my barbaric yawp”. To be fair, since it was 7 a.m., the yawp was somewhat restrained so as not to wake the neighborhood.
The best part of this moment is that it is perfect. I am not concerned about royalties, critical reviews or typos. I am not hungry, tired or stressed. All that will come in due time, but not yet.
In my mind at this moment I am enjoying a beautiful sunset at the beach with a gentle breeze tempering the warmth of the day but not yet bringing forth the chill of evening.
Worry not, as I’ll get back to promotional postcards, book signings and other marketing devices soon enough.
Right now, I’m just enjoying the view.
With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I’m like everyone else who is concerned about who’s bringing what to dinner and what time we need to arrive.
I suppose it is a national pastime to obsess over the minutiae of these celebrations. If an item is forgotten or was not in stock, we devote a seemingly inordinate amount of time lamenting over its absence and strategizing how we can resolve the dilemma.
Don’t get me wrong. I love all the treats that grace our holiday table. If there were no fried onions for the green bean casserole, you’d better believe I would hop into the car and hunt for the elusive item.
Considering how little some people have, all of this frantic scrambling seems a bit excessive to say the least. As a teacher, from time to time a student will tell me about the difficulties his or her family is having with paying the bills or putting food on the table. We help where we can, but we know there is much more need out there we may never discover. Bearing this in mind, it is imperative to remember how fortunate so many of us are.
The big project on my plate this next week is publishing a book. Yet for all the energy I have poured into this effort, at this point I simply am pursuing a dream and not relying on the success of this venture to be the determining factor in whether or not we eat this week. I may be doing every thing I can to turn a profit, but I will not suffer catastrophic financial disaster if my dreams do not come to fruition. My ego would be bruised and our household budget would be tighter to be sure, but those damages could be repaired in time.
So, as we enter the season of turkey and trimmings, may we realize how blessed we are and take a moment to give thanks for what we have. Possessing such perspective may be the best gift of all.
As a child, I fell in love with the places books could take you if you were only willing to dedicate a little imagination to making the journey. Being so passionate about reading, I soon was bitten by the writing bug. My first efforts, not surprisingly, were childish as I copied what I had seen and read rather than created original work of my own. And, while my ability to write journalistic stories grew in high school, college and beyond, my short stories remained slight twists on my own life or ideas from others.
In the summer of 1998, I began to work on what would become my first novel. What I thought was a pretty good product was, in reality, a very rough draft that needed much more work. Foolishly discarding wise counsel, I rushed my story to agents and publishers expecting a book contract in short order.
Instead of instant success, rejections quickly filled an ever-expanding file folder. All aspiring writers have visions of royalties and recognition coming at the end of a long road of struggle. People whose oft-declined manuscript goes on to eventually become a best-selling novel inspire us all to keep writing, submit to agents, grieve over the rejections and submit again.
Many drafts later, I had reached the dreaded milestone of receiving more rejections than there are states in America. That’s when I decided to take a new path, one that would lead me out of this literary wilderness. While tempted to simply give up, I realized I had come too far to abandon the dream that has grasped my soul so many years ago. I tell my students every day not to give up on their dreams, so how could I throw away on my own and not be seen as a hypocrite in their eyes?
A few still may frown at those who take the self-publishing route, but sometimes you just need to move forward in faith and boldness and see what happens. President Teddy Roosevelt famously tipped his hat to the man waging battle in the arena willing to fight with all of his might and “if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
Win or lose, I am happy to finally be stepping into the arena.
I've been writing stories and taking photos since I was old enough to hold a pencil and stand behind a tripod.