It was one of those awkward parties—the kind where you don’t really know anyone except the one person who invited you. I strategically found refuge in a corner seat near the least threatening-looking person my introverted self could find. It was an elderly lady who I knew was an old friend of my parents. I had hoped she was enjoying a moment of solitude, which I could join in equal solitude, but as it would happen, she was rather chatty. She quickly struck up a conversation, asking me questions about how my parents were doing and what I was up to. I do not remember how I ended up admitting it (I generally never told people I was a writer), but I somehow grudgingly told this woman about the book series I had been writing for many years. She was particularly interested because her husband was also a writer and a published author. I will never forget what she said to me.
“Don’t let yourself be one of those people who always is writing a book and never finishes it.”
Though at the time she said this I was not writing much, it was as if a gong went off in my heart. It was true—it was all too true. I knew of so many book-starters, but not many finishers. And I knew I personally was well on my way to joining that crowd, despite the years of childhood dreams and determination.
For as long as I could remember I had been writing stories. Before I even knew how to read or write, I created books by drawing countless pictures. Lengthy, detailed stories told in artwork, I would then staple the papers together into a book and “read” it aloud from memory to anyone and everyone who would stand still long enough to listen.
As I learned how to write, much of my time was dedicated to handwriting dozens and dozens of stories. At age 11 I proudly finished a handwritten 30-page-long story—the first one of any great length that I remember actually finishing. When I was 12, I rewrote this same book, still by hand, and this time the book completed at 120 pages. Over the next couple years, I learned how to use a computer and began furiously creating, typing, and finishing books, all around 100 pages long. There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to be an author and when, at age 14, I began the process of writing what would become The Mark of Fire Series, neither any doubt in my mind what I wanted to write about.
So how could I—all these years later, talking to my parents’ old friend at that awkward party—have let myself start on the slippery slope of being one of the writers who never finished?
That day, though I had no idea how or when I was going to do it, a steely resolution rose inside me at the words of this semi-stranger in a chance encounter. I would not be one of the writers who always wished they had pursued their dream, but never did.
It certainly wasn’t immediate, and it certainly wasn’t easy, but over the next couple years I dove back into writing the story I loved, with a quiet determination that I would see it through to publication. And I am immensely grateful for the people in my life who made sure it happened, because, determination or not, there is no way I could have done it alone. It took my mom telling me it was time to stop being a perfectionist and get my book to a publisher whether I thought it was ready or not; it took my bestie pushing me to contact the editor she knew to get my book appraised; it took encouragement and help and work from friends and family to climb the mountain of publication; and it took one sentence from an old lady to put the resolution back in me.
Why do I share this story with you?
Well, you might not be a writer, but you probably have a dream. Or maybe you used to, and your passion to go after it just needs to be rekindled.
One of my dreams is that through writing my books, I can help encourage others to not quit in going after their dreams—whatever they are! At some point or other we probably need someone to give us a little push to help us keep going; after all, fighting for your dream is no cakewalk!
I hope that this blog has helped you with that. As someone wise once said: “Don’t let yourself be one of those people who always is writing a book and never finishes it.”