Recently, an author I much admire, William Cook, posted on Facebook that he is reading one of my stories. Mine. William’s a great guy, but he’s also a fine author and a well-regarded cover artist. And he’s reading my story?
How did this happen? How did I go from the avid reader who always dreamed of being a writer to, well, being a writer? Strangely enough, I never doubted I’d one day BE a writer, but I had no plan for it. It was a dream. I could see my book, with a very clever cover, sitting on the shelves of my local library or book store. But I never took a step toward my goal.
Well, you know how it is with goals. If you ignore them, sometimes they just go away and you think they were too difficult anyway. Sometimes you put your eye on the prize and charge forward toward a certain goal and somewhere around the first time you tell people about the new goal, you hit a huge stumbling block and realize you’ll never reach your goal.
Anyway that’s how my mind works. I’m a pessimist, glass-half-empty-with-a-fly-floating-in-it pessimist. So although I’ve certainly reached many goals, I have a lot of experience with letting goals just slip through my fingers.
One day, on Facebook, I was chatting with a friendly woman I had basically just met. I told her I dreamed of being a writer, but just didn’t know how to get started. “Well,” she said. “My publishing company has an anthology coming out. You could always submit something.”
Oh, my! Talk about a golden opportunity! Now, I’ve already admitted I’m a pessimist, but I’m no fool. Someone tells you “here’s a way to get started on your goal. It’s easy as pie.” You must listen to those opportunities or else you’re not just a pessimist but a defeatist. I’m so excited I talked to that nice lady, Jo-Anne Russell, that day and that I listened to her advice.
So the next week, I wrote a story. I’d written lots of stories, but not fiction stories, in my career as a newspaper reporter. I had to learn to invent characters and put words in their mouths. That first story is really a funny little tale called In Sickness and In Health and although it hasn’t been published yet, it was accepted and thus kicked off my writing career.
After a while, I had another story to submit and it was accepted. I had quite a run of acceptances but, naturally, I hit that streak of four or five rejections. I don’t particularly enjoy the rejections, but I try to learn from them and move on to the next project and maybe later I’ll find the right home for that rejected story.
And I met other authors, successful authors, who advised me on writing, marketing, keeping calm when you get a review, whatever they thought would help. Amazingly, they didn’t expect anything back from me, they just enjoyed seeing someone else achieve her goals.
So, by now, I’ve sold some stories, I self-published two stories (which will become a six-story series in the near future) and I have a great idea for a novel. I still saw myself as a wannabe writer, believe it or not. Then I attended the World Horror Convention and we wore lovely nametags that identified us as attending the convention. A few people asked me why I was at the convention and I said “I’m a writer.”
Then when I was alone later, I’d smile from ear to ear and say it again: I’m a writer!! I’m mingling with other writers! I might be just getting started but I’ve got one foot in the door!
My expectation is that I’ll eventually get both feet firmly in the world of writing and finish that novel. Maybe I’ll even see it on a library shelf, which was where I found my love of reading many years ago. I have a many steps to take before then, but I think I can do it. And from a pessimist? That’s a ringing endorsement.