What’s Stopping You From Publishing Your Book?
Yes, I’m a successfully published author with acclaimed novels, short stories and essays published all over the world. But I almost didn’t get there. What if I told you that I never read as a kid, I was the worst speller in my school and I used bad grammar? I didn’t excel in typing class and practically failed English 101. Based on my Career Aptitude Test score, the school counselor recommended that I go into some trade like car mechanic. Believe me, I started from behind.
- I’ve experienced your disappointment and your fear—and prevailed.
- I’ve battled the gridlock of time and schedule conflicts, priority problems and lack of support from family and friends—and forged a way.
- I’ve felt lonely and depressed because no one understood my dream or took it seriously—and found a community.
- I’ve been lost in a sea of unfocused ideas, undirected plot, excessive—even boring—characters—and created a masterpiece of tense page-turning excitement.
- I understand your pain, your moments of hesitation and lack of confidence, your yearning. I’ve been rejected and rejected and rejected—and then published!
Are you a storyteller? Because that’s where it all starts. With a story. The rest is window dressing. Every author is on a journey, a hero’s journey, really. Because that’s what most writers are: heroes. We journey into the dark frightening abyss and return with the prize for the world: truth. The writer’s life is not really romantic, like many believe. It is rife with doubt, rejection, betrayal and disappointment. But it is also graced with the richness of joy, satisfaction, energy and fulfillment. When a writer writes what he or she is passionate about, there is nothing better. Absolutely nothing. So, let me tell you a story now, about how I almost didn’t become a writer but did because it was what I had to do. Like most stories, this one has a beginning, middle and an end…
The Beginning: The Sweet Promise
When I was ten years old, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up: I was going to be a paperback writer. It was 1964 and I’d taken my favorite rock group’s song to heart, the Beatles’ “I Want to be a Paperback Writer”. It was an incredible moment of clarity for me and despite being challenged by my stern and unimaginative primary school teacher, who kept trying to corral me into being “normal”, I wasn’t going to let anyone stem my creativity and eccentric—if not wayward—approach to literature, language and writing. I was a confident, but lovable, little brat and I knew it. She and I didn’t exactly get along, as a result. But I did okay anyway, and, despite her acidic commentary (I didn’t cross my “t”s the way she wanted me to), Miss House begrudgingly awarded me my due A’s and B’s.
I wrote some fan fiction but quickly found my own creations far more interesting and less limiting. As a teenager, I wrote, directed and recorded “radio plays” with my sister. When we weren’t bursting into riotous laughter, it was actually pretty good. She and I shared a bedroom in the back of the house and at bedtime we opened our doors of imagination to a cast of thousands. We fed each other wild stories of space travel, adventure and intrigue, murmuring and giggling well into the dark night long after our parents were snoring in their beds. Those days scintillated with liberating originality, excitement and joy. I also enjoyed animation and drew several cartoon strips, peopled with crazy characters as I dreamt of writing graphic novels like Green Lantern, Magnus, Robot Fighter and Spiderman. My hero was science fiction author and futurist, Ray Bradbury; I vowed to write profoundly stirring tales like he did. Stories that mattered. Stories that lingered with you long after you finished them. Stories that made you think and dream and changed you imperceptibly.
I had found what excites me—my passion for telling stories—and I’d inadvertently stumbled upon an important piece of the secret formula for success: 1) having discovered my passion, I decided on a goal; 2) I found and wished to emulate a “hero” who’d achieved that goal and therefore had a “case study”; 3) I applied myself to the pursuit of my goal. Oops… the third one, well…
…It went downhill from there…
Life got in the way.
I grew up.
The Middle: The Struggles & Confusion of “Reality”
Well, that, and the environment intervened. In several ways. It started with my parents. Recognizing my talent and interest in the fine arts (I was pretty good in visual arts), they pushed me to get a fine arts degree in university and go into teaching or advertizing. They made it obvious that fiction writing was not a viable career or a forté of mine (I was lousy at spelling and, despite my ability to tell stories and my love for graphic novels, I didn’t read books!). I can still remember my father’s lecture about how perfect the teaching or nursing profession was for me. I wasn’t enamored by either. The second blow to my author-ego came in the form of a school “interest-ability” test, meant to prepare us for our career decisions. I remember the test consisting of an IQ portion (spatial, English and math), and a psychology portion (including problem-solving and scenarios meant to tease out our affinity for a particular career). Secretly harboring my paperback novelist dream, I filled out my forms with great excitement. I still remember the deflating results, which suggested that I was best suited to be a sergeant in the army! LOL! Remember what I said about my spelling and grammar. “Writing” as a career barely made it on the graph, and scored well below “computer programmer” and “mechanic”; none of which interested me.
I began to see a career in advertizing as a viable option; my love and abilities in cartooning seemed to naturally tie in with this pursuit. I also had an affinity for graphic design. So, I deferred to the “wisdom” of others and let myself be diverted and distracted by clever reasoning and an appeal to logic. I did what I thought I should do, not what truly excited me.
I still quietly held my dream of being a paperback novelist close to my heart, even if it was closeted in my subconscious. But self-expression had dwindled to a trickle; the creative flow of stories dried up and in its empty wake I discovered a cause worth investing a fervent energy: the well-being of our planet. With the cause came my relentless pursuit of a science degree. I left home and surprised and disappointed my parents by electing on registration day at the university to go into science rather than pursue a fine arts degree in advertizing. Although I wasn’t “expressing”, I was nevertheless inspired. I obtained several degrees in science, including one in Limnology (the study of freshwater), which were all to prove worthwhile in my ultimate “calling” and self-expression: that of making science accessible to the lay-public and eventually writing hard-science fiction stories and novels of substance about the environment. The latter didn’t happen for several years after I acquired my Masters of Science degree and did a long stint of teaching at university (yes, I DID teach after all!) while successfully publishing articles for magazines.
The End: Fulfillment
My non-fiction pieces became my entrance into the world of fiction (much harder to break into) and I used this venue to polish my writing skills in fiction (don’t let anyone tell you that non-fiction can’t be exciting, bending to many of the same rules as in fiction writing). Once I began publishing fiction stories, I never looked back. And as far as I’m concerned, the sky’s the limit now.
Not too long ago, I quit my day job and moved across the country to an artistic community on the east coast. I am currently travelling the world and pursuing my dream as a full-time author and writing coach. It’s not an easy life. And it can be lonely at times. But it is so incredibly fulfilling and blessed with meaning.
Come, walk with me and pursue your dream. It’s for the taking.