I’ve been making up stories for as long as I can remember. Not only did I draw pictures to illustrate them, my sister and I also set about recording our very own werewolf story at age eight complete with sound effects. Further on down the road in high school, my favorite English assignments were an imaginative drill. Every Friday the class had to analyze a random picture in our text books, then write a story to describe it. I think I was the only participant who embraced the challenge readily. To me the task wasn’t work. Sure I had to write, but my imagination got to run wild within boundaries, which spelt F-U-N.
Today I still do that. I see everyday occurrences and wonder what happened before or what would happen after I turned my eyes away. In a way I think all writers use these little snippets as building blocks to create identifiable events in their work. In effect we become characters in the scenery around us. And as a member of the ever-moving sea of people we provide the cause and effect that makes life kinetic (including the cross-sectioned semi-chaos of publishing).
But have you ever thought of yourself that way—as someone at the mercy of a higher force? I ask because I got a rejection letter as a belated birthday gift. At the ripe old age of thirty-two I should’ve learned by now to roll with life’s punches to the gut (especially with the stack shoved in a cubby of my desk). But after six months of praying, hoping, and imagining what I could do with the chance to write in both sub-genres I loved for a NY publisher, I got those dreams dashed. Maybe I built myself up too high. Perhaps I should’ve tempered my grandiose designs for the future. But I’d simply followed the motto of visualizing what I wanted in order to get to that X-marked destination. I had to believe in myself, or who else would?
Right now, my personal foundations have been rocked. But I still see the gleam in my prose that marks their merit from my hard work. As they say, “I’ve come a long way, baby.” It was ten years ago when I staggered in, whooped from my full-time job, and sat down in front of a hand-me-down DOS PC to start TAKE ME IN YOUR HEART. If I’d known then how hard I’d have to fight, the turmoil I’d have to endure, I likely would’ve quit. Heck, I almost did…twice. In 2004 my saving grace came as a call out of the blue one night while I was doing laundry. The British woman on the other end told me something that reduced me to tears, yet had me pumped up enough to consider crawling onto my roof to shout out my fabulous news. TAKE ME IN YOUR HEART had been chosen as a finalist in NJ’s Put Your Heart in A Book contest, my first final ever. I settled for phoning/e-mailing every single person I could think of.
You live and learn, even when you don’t want to. And Life certainly has plenty of blind turns in store. But when you meet a roadblock head on, you simply have to whip into a three-point turn and detour to get back on your chosen path. That’s the only way to end up where you want to be. Perhaps we’re even headed for the same spot—a place that’ll give readers the chance to love our characters, including the quirky ones who reflect the world around us.