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.