Good grief, do I wish I knew! I know it takes a lot of work. A lot of determination. A lot of late nights, missed meals, skipping family time when you’re up against a deadline. I put my health at risk many times. I actually got so stressed out that for over a year and a half, I couldn’t eat solid food. I’m just starting to get back into it a little at a time.
All of those things and so much more. But if it’s been your dream since you were a child writing your first short story when you could barely write, is it worth it? I like to think so. I’m not sure my family would agree sometimes. Like when they’re here and I’m so lost in a story that I barely notice them. I’m sure it hurts them. The loss of time with them hurts me. But it’s a driving force. A need to keep working, keep trying and make it work that you can’t ignore even if you want to.
When I was a child, I was yelled at by parents and teachers, adults of all kinds, because I would slip into daydreams or pick up a book and get lost for hours on end. I got up about two hours earlier than I needed to in the mornings to make sure I started the day reading before I had to go to school. It was a hunger that I just couldn’t rein in no matter how much I tried. And then, I started making up whole conversations in my head. This character would tell me a scene and I’d slip another character into it. I’d have whole pages of dialogue written in my head when I was eight or nine years old. They were always there waiting for me. Like best friends eager to share stories and their dreams.
A few teachers recognized the thirst for books of all kinds. They gave me their personal books to read and I cherished that. I loved those teachers. It seemed like they understood me more than my own family did most of the time.
They also encouraged me to go to English Festivals at YSU and other competitions where I could stretch my muscles and challenge myself. A list of twenty or so books to read, an early morning bus ride and I was on the campus at twelve years old. Group discussions and plotting a story guidance. Even a challenge to rewrite a scene that we were unhappy with in a book that we had to read. I think I rewrote a scene from A Light in the Forest but I can’t remember for sure. But I won some of the competitions and it was just more fuel for my soul. If I lost, well, I knew I just needed to try harder.
As I got older, life got in the way. I had a child and divorced. Had to take care of the two of us on my own with some help from family members. Had to push all those characters out of my head and let them go. Exhaustion took care of the rest of those dreams. I worked in every fast food place in town. I worked nights in a plastics factory. I did some hard, dirty jobs and every one of them sucked more and more of my soul out of me. All I could do was get up and work. Take care of my son. Just survive.
Then I met my husband. As soon as I saw him, I knew he was special. He was the one. I chased him which I had never done in my life. But I knew. We got married and had two kids after that quickly. I had post-partum depression so bad every time that I just wanted to sit in the dark and sleep. Didn’t want to even touch my babies until it fiinally went away.
Mama time was next. Years of staying at home with our kids while my hubby worked his butt off doing paving and excavating (hence, the fascination with blue collar babes!). And throughout all of those years while I was home, I started filling up notebooks with notes and dialogue. Whole conversations that my characters in my head were having. In the car, asleep in bed. They started creeping in again like old friends.
Finally, I started working again but still had that itch. That drive. And so my hubby saw it and during the pandemic when I still had to work but it was so dang stressful, he encouraged me. Bet me, actually. He said there’s no way in hell you’ll ever write and publish even a short book.
I hate challenges! The same day, I brushed up one a bit and put it on Amazon. Cowboy’s Curvy Dream. That was two years ago. And about eighty books later. The drive is still there, the hunger, the fire. I’m not making millions of dollars from my writing. Not yet! LOL! Who doesn’t want that! But I am writing and feeding the beast that dwells in every writer or frustrated writer out there.
So, in conclusion. It takes a helluva lot of work and a need that won’t be pushed aside, no matter how much time goes by. Days, weeks, months…even decades. It’s still there. Still burning like a tiny ember waiting for that spark to push it into a full-fledged five-alarm fire.
Fuel your spark. Find your passion. And even if you have to work like a dog, don’t give up on it! I didn’t.