When you were a kid, what did you dream of being when you grew up? A baseball player? A rock star? An actress? A doctor? A mother? An astronaut? A ballerina?
I always wanted to be a published writer. Pat Goldman, my 7th grade English teacher, was the first person who explained the process of becoming published and told me that it was a goal I could reach. It took me 34 years from that time to see my first published newspaper column; 36 years before my first insurance text was published; 38 years before my first magazine article was published; and 41 years before my first novel was published. If you believe in yourself and your dream, if you keep plugging away at it, you will realize it. Of course, having people like Pat believe in you doesn't hurt, either.
For some of us, life drops itself into our path like huge boulders. Precious dream-chasing time is sacrificed as we detour around those boulders, climb over them, or sometimes blast through them. People become more important than our dreams, especially those we love, as do our jobs and other duties and responsibilities. For those of us who keep our dreams alive, although we may tuck them out of sight, we never completely lose sight of them.
For me, novel-writing took tremendous amounts of time. I wrote five of them in four years. Life intruded in the form of a divorce and the responsibilities of motherhood; I couldn't sacrifice my children to my dream. So, I channeled it into journalling and newspaper articles and insurance texts--things I had time for without sacrificing the three most important people in my life. When a fellow I know presented me with the opportunity to write magazine articles, I jumped at it. The research and writing time was a bit more extensive but, by then, my children were grown I was able to find the time among my other responsibilities. These writing activities rekindled my dream to write another novel. The passion for writing flared, once again, from a spark into a bonfire and I completed the first draft of my sixth novel within three and a half months.
Might I have published a novel sooner had I spent more time writing? Maybe. Maybe not. I surely wouldn't have possessed the life experience, the support-system, or the writing expertise that I gained during my detour-years.
Am I disappointed that it took me this long? Absolutely not. Shortly after Second Time Around was released for publication, I was chatting with my father. He's not known for gushing or freely offering words of praise, so his words meant that much more to me. He told me he was proud that I'd published a book--it's not a feat that many people accomplish. But, he added, he was proudest of my stick-to-itiveness: he didn't know another person who'd pursued her dream so many years.
I recently read a book titled The Renegade Writer by Linda Formichelli and Dianna Burrell. A theme that repeats itself in the book and on their blog is: persistence.
In other words: Keep going. Don't stop. Quitting is not an option. Never surrender.
Fact & Fiction Books in downtown Missoula hosted my first book signing & reading last night. Words cannot express how I felt seeing piles of Second Time Around in the bookstore and hearing the kind words of Barbara Theroux as she introduced me before my reading. What moved me even more, however, were the people who attended and their kind words and support. Their purchases of my book didn't hurt, either.
Am I all dreamed out now that this 41 year-old dream has been realized? Absolutely not. I already have a new dream. I'm hoping it won't take as many years to be realized. But if it does, we already know I have the stamina.