Before I decided to try my hand at writing I had planned on doing a number of different things. One avenue was leading me to become an administrative assistant while another dealt with phlebotomy. Keep in mind I have absolutely no experience in either field and yet, at the time, they seemed like safe career choices. It took a while but I’ve come to learn that comfort zones and financial responsibility can lead us to do many menial or even soul crushing things with our lives. But I believe that at these moments in our existence opportunities are more willing and able to manifest themselves.
More than a decade ago I had received some great advice from a relative. Unfortunately I was still in college and had the mindset of your typical college student. I ignored the advice and let time wither it beyond all recognition until years later. After filling out numerous job applications and going on interviews all over Texas in order to escape my life as it was I decided to revisit the past. I dusted off the advice I was given and put it to the test. It came in the form of a club designed to help people reflect on their past experiences, in turn giving rise to ideas about their potential future. It’s called the Five O’clock Club.
I purchased some of their reading material for resume building, job searches and so on then went over a few of the exercises with someone who’d gone through the same process. Long story short, I didn’t finish all of the material. That’s because the first few exercises caused me to do such an intense reevaluation of my life that it wasn’t necessary. I realized that I never wanted to fill out another resume or go on another job interview again. I discovered I didn’t like working for people. And most importantly I uncovered an avenue for a career that, a decade ago, would’ve never even been an option.
At this point I finally had a goal. For me at least this is all I need in order to start moving. The reason I had spent so much time spinning my wheels before this is because I didn’t know what I really wanted to do next. However, there’s still another aspect of my character that needs work. The part that would rather spend an hour guessing at how to assemble something and doing it wrong than spend two minutes reading the instructions. This is how my journey into writing began.
For a perfectly logical reason (at the time) I decided to write a children’s book as my first project. I figured I could have it done in a few days, maybe weeks, then move on to something else. I read a handful of books by other authors in the same field then set out to produce an original work of my own. I started with a rhyming book but after the merciless (but much needed) criticism from family members I opted for prose instead. It took about nine revisions of bad rhymes before this shift and afterwards all I had to show for it was a seed of an idea. This seed, though, is what grew into the foundation for a series I’ll hopefully use to engage children for years to come.
Again, it took nine (if not more) revisions of bad ideas before I had a speck of hope. After that it took four to five more revisions with an editor and family members before I had something I was comfortable sharing with an illustrator. All of this for a children’s book of a little more than 1000 words. And, for anyone wondering, I chose to self-publish instead of taking the traditional route. The main reason is because the rewards outweigh the risks, at least in my opinion. The way I see it editors have always served as the gatekeepers when it came to the writing world. A great author could easily come across 10-20 editors that hate their work, ensuring it never sees the light of day. Meanwhile millions of people throughout the world could easily raise this author and their work to new heights. Of course you’ll find a group of people that don’t like what you have to offer, but I don’t think they should have the final say in whether or not you find success. Yes, editors have an eye for quality and may have a more refined taste when it comes to writing, then again they may just not be a fan of your genre. With 7 billion plus people on the planet someone will buy your book, the question is how many?
Anyway, it was a rough start but eventually began to level out as I listened to podcasts and read articles to help shore up my fragile understanding of this industry (most notably the Rocking Self-Publishing podcast). One thing I learned is that you tend not to take your goals seriously until after the first step, but once you get that out of the way you realize each step gets just a little easier. Then you run into a mountain (but I’ll get to that later). The takeaway is that you should be sure of what you want to accomplish. Once you are you should put all of your energy toward it. It’s easy to find excuses why we can’t do something. In the end, though, those excuses won’t do us any favors. I’d much rather find solutions.