“Life is either a great adventure or nothing.”
These words were expressed by a woman whose trials and challenges went far beyond anything I will ever experience, yet the truth of them touches my life just as vigorously as it touched hers. Helen Keller understood this. She lived her life as an adventure, and she shared her adventure with so many, and because of this she is still alive in our hearts and minds.
Life is, in fact, a series of adventures, and I am embarking on a new one. I have become a writer!
I always knew I would and now that it’s happened I’ve been knocking myself upside the head, saying, “Why did you wait so long?”
Some thoughts on why I waited…
- There are times and seasons in a person’s life. Part of me knew that once I let the writing bug bite me, there’d be no going back. It consumes me. I still live in the real world, with a husband, kids, dirty dishes, and a day job, but when I’m writing, those things stand in danger of neglect. That smart part of me knew that I’d have to postpone this season of my life until the kids were past their formative years and moving on. My baby graduated from high school last June. To paraphrase The Goonies, “This is my time.
- I’ve amassed a lot more life experience now on which to draw for my stories. I once worked with a superb violinist who came into her career late in life. She told me, “I used to kick myself for not starting earlier, but I eventually realized that I didn’t have the maturity to interpret and understand as I do now. My life experience is what brought me here.” So true. I am better prepared now than I’ve ever been before.
- On the subject of preparation, I have read and studied and pored over books on writing, salivating and anticipating the day when I would put it all into practice. For at least a couple of decades, I’ve had so many stories simmering on the back burners of my brain, growing, developing, waiting to be born. The library has always been a favorite hangout of mine, and a couple of years ago I got my dream job working in circulation at my local library. I worked, every day, in a wonderland of books, unable to believe they were paying me for this! As I shelved and repaired and studied books, I kept creating more stories in my head, knowing that someday I’d write them, and perhaps my books would find a place on the library shelf.
- So, my time finally arrived…coinciding with the death of the publishing industry. I felt downright mopey about that, but I determined to power through and grab the attention of the publishing trade anyway. I wrote about a dozen short stories and sent them, one by one, to the only major markets I knew of that still publish short story mysteries: Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. AHMM mentioned me in their March 2010 issue, crediting a story I wrote for their Mysterious Photograph feature, and they regularly sent my rejection notices back with hand-written notes of encouragement, until they went digital. I got an acceptance letter from an anthology that was later cancelled, and another from a magazine that wanted to run one of my stories, but they dropped the ball and it never happened.
Is the publishing industry dead?
I’ve entered a number of writing competitions, and though I often make it to the shortlist, I’m always a bridesmaid and never a bride. Still, I knew it would likely take years of rejection before I got my chance. I was prepared to go the long haul while lamenting my lousy timing. Then I had an epiphany—my timing couldn’t be better, the publishing industry is by no means dead. The phoenix rises from the ashes and beckons me to climb upon its back. More on this in subsequent posts, and may I quote The Goonies again for my fellow budding writers, “This is OUR time.”
This post is not intended as an excuse for putting off my writing adventure. Nor am I encouraging you to postpone your own adventures. This post is an invitation, heartily extended to you, to join me in my adventure. As I learn and grow, I want to share my successes and failures that you may draw strength and wisdom alongside me on this journey. Let us go forth!
Sign up for my reader’s group, and I’ll keep you up-to-date on my adventure, share what I’m learning, and send you some of my stories, FREE.