Dreams and Hard Work and Persistence
It's 100 days until More Than Anger hits shelves, and I still can't believe it! I want to talk a little bit about how More Than Anger came to be, and how I almost gave up on my dreams right before they started to come true.
While I first struggled with reading as a child, once I got the hang of it, it became one of my favorite things to do. Soon after I discovered my love for reading, I also discovered my love for writing stories, and at some point I realized that there were people in this world who were paid to write, and I decided that's what I wanted to do. It became my Dream.
I'm lucky in the fact that my parents have always been supportive of my career aspirations. I was part of writers' club in high school, and got my degree in English and creative writing from Canisius College in Buffalo, NY. During college, whenever people found out my major, they'd scoff and ask "and what are you going to do with that?" To them, majoring in arts and humanities was a waste of time and money. When enough people question your choice, you start to wonder if they might be right. Nevertheless, I kept coming to the conclusion that I was on the right path for me. There were times when I thought about switching to a political science degree with a international relations concentration, after all, I had considered being a human right's lawyer. At some point I thought maybe I should be "practical" and switch to a science degree, even though I knew that wasn't what I wanted. After the first semester of freshman year I even considered dropping out. And who knows where any of these paths would've brought me. Maybe I would've been a great human rights lawyer, or maybe I would've done well in Chemistry and found a passion there. Maybe the life experiences I would've had as a college drop out would've turned into a different book. But that's not what happened. I didn't drop out, I met my best friend the following semester, and stuck with the program I'd started with.
One thing you're reminded of in a creative writing program is the fact that we will not all become J.K. Rowling, E.L. James, or Stephanie Meyer. Most of us will still need a day job, even once we publish. These reminders from our professors are important in keeping us grounded in reality, and making sure we put ourselves on firm financial footing. It can also be exhausting.
Sending out your hard work only to be rejected every time is also exhausting. I think I was 17 when I sent out my first manuscripts to agents, and received my first rejections. Those manuscripts were not ready, and they were rightfully rejected. But It was another 8 years after that first rejection before I'd have my writing accepted for publication. 8 years feels like forever when you're trying to make your dream happen. Luckily, 4 of those 8 years was college, when I had professors teaching me how to craft better stories, and telling me their own stories of both rejections and successes. Good mentors not only help you learn your craft, but they also help to put your successes and your failures in perspective.
But a year and a half after graduating I started to feel like I should just give up on me dream. I felt like maybe I'd made a mistake in thinking I could do this, and that I had no good ideas and that I'd never publish. I remember walking into my friend's house and declaring my writing aspirations to be a pipe dream. About a week later I heard about an opportunity to submit my writing, figured "why not go for it?", and sent in the required materials. Fast forward a little bit and I had an email in my inbox that said "Congratulations!". I knew what it was before I opened it, and I will admit I shed a tear.
That was only the beginning of this journey, and I'll talk about the writing process in another blog post. To this day, nearly two years after I sent in my pitch, I'm still surprised by how close I came to giving up, and by the timing of this opportunity.
This is all really to say thank you to everyone who has supported me in this dream. Family, friends, coworkers and customers from my day job, professors, teachers, and classmates. And thank you especially to my editor, Caitie, who accepted my pitch, and then guided me through the edits with so much kindness and insight.