Sarah started this blog chain by asking: What has been the most unexpected part of your writing journey up to this point? What has happened that you could never have predicted? Has it been a help or a hindrance?
I wrote my first novella-length story when I was about 12-years old.
I'd never share it with anyone now because it would be a lesson in embarrassment I don't think I need (especially after my last post about Richard Chamberlain). But at the time, I was pretty proud of it. I shared it with some of my classmates who one day blurted to our English teacher, "Kathy wrote a book."
Yeah, thanks guys.
Apparently, my English teacher, Mrs. Stewart, was intrigued. She asked if she could see it. Like I said, at the time I was proud of it and wanted to show it off. So I gave it to her.
When Mrs. Stewart returned it, she said something like, This is really good, Kathy. I think if you continue to work at it and polish your skills, you could be a published writer someday.
Wow! What ultra-nerdy junior high girl doesn't want to hear that? Mrs. Stewart's encouragement rocketed me into the upper atmosphere for days. I went around telling people that one day I'd be a great novelist.
My friends believed it. My family believed it. (Or at least it appeared as if they did.)
Then I went to my cousin, God bless her, to get a haircut and told her of my newfound goal in life: "I've written a story, and my teacher says she thinks I could be published someday."
My cousin, God bless her, quickly brought me back down to earth with a laugh and a, "Published? Yeah, right. Do you know how hard it is to get a book published? I don't think so."
I interpretted her response as a lack of faith in me. But I didn't let it discourage me.
In fact, it set me on this ambitious pursuit to write The Great American Novel . . . and get it published. The funny thing about it is I think, as time went on, I pursued that goal simply out of spite.
Then last year, my husband had to be hospitalized, which ended up with me getting treated for an anxiety disorder. (BTW: How is that fair?) My doctor prescribed medicine that stripped me of the desire to string words together much less the ability to dip myself into a world of fictional characters.
Oh it sucked. Big time.
But while I was on that medication, I had a lot of time to search my soul and fine tune the goals I truly wanted to achieve in life.
For the first time since I was 12, I found myself asking the question: Do I really want to be a published writer? Does my heart really desire publication or is it something I've pursued all of these years because someone -- who probably has no recollection of that seemingly trivial conversation -- doubted I could do it?
I never could have predicted the answer I found: I don't know.
I don't know because the road to publication is fraught with heartache and fright and unexpected twists and turns. It's not that I can't endure such a road. I have little doubt in myself; I know I write "good enough" stories.
But the knowledge of such a rough journey has taken away the peace I find while escaping into those fictional worlds. That knowledge has become a hindrance when I sit down to write.
Is it worth it? I'm sure the published writers out there are screaming, "Hell yeah, Kat, do it!"
But I still don't know. Thankfully, I'm holding onto that spite. It just might get me onto the bookshelf someday.
What about your journey?
Check out what Abby said yesterday. Sandra is up next.