There are so many reasons people follow, or don’t follow, their passions. Most of us give it a try. We think we’ll be the next Taylor Swift or the next gold medal sensation at the Olympics. We try. But then life happens. There’s that pesky education we’re told we should get. Then the job and the kids and the clipping coupons and oh yeah, that other relationship that got us the kids. This is where a lot of us quit. This is where those burning passions start smoldering and sometimes, go out. But if we listen, we might here a voice speaking to us from under our pillow or maybe from deep inside the cluttered closet. “I’m still here,” it whispers. “Don’t let me go.”
So instead of sleeping or cleaning out that cluttered closet, we go to work. We go to our passion. For me, that’s writing. And the little voice spoke to me usually in the dark hours of night. I gave up sleep for my passion. I gave up keeping the laundry and the dishes in check. I wrote when I could have been exercising so yeah…my weight and cholesterol could be a little better.
I wrote and I researched agents and I sent out queries. Sometimes I got nibbles. Sometimes I got requests for the ‘full’ manuscript. Any writer knows how exciting a request for a ‘full’ can be. We send it, then constantly check our emails — for days, weeks, months, and occasionally years.(Yes, I just heard back on a ‘full’ requested three years ago!) We hang on every positive word from an agent, and every negative word because at least they’re acknowledging that we exist and that we worked.
I love writing. You have to if you’re willing to give up so much to do it, and to be honest, I was close to giving up. When the work is so rarely recognized, and we think about how so many things in our lives have been left unattended to because of our writing, we start to think that maybe it’s time to stop. To give up on the dream of seeing our work on the self in a bookstore.
But I couldn’t. I have three children who have grown up watching me chase my dream, and how can I tell them not to give up on theirs, if I give up on mine. So I didn’t. Then I went to the Kansas Writers’ Association conference and took part in a pitching contest. Amazingly, I won.
I doubted winning would amount to much, but little did I know that winning the help of “The Book Doctors” Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry, would finally tip the scales in my favor.
They helped me make sure the first part of the novel was perfect, then introduced me to Ayesha Pande of The Pande Literary Agency. More rewrites, then a book deal with Putnam — the young adult division of Penguin Random House. The book (name still in negotiation) is due out June of 2015.
It scares me to think how close I was to giving up. But in the end, I learned the lesson I was trying to teach my kids.
There’s a reason we have the dreams and passions that we have. It’s the passion that allows us to do the work we need to become the artists we have to be when opportunity finally presents itself.
They say writing shouldn’t be about teaching lessons, but blogging can be. This lesson is repeated over and over again, but not always taken to heart.
Don’t give up. And if you’re really a writer, you won’t be able to.