Twenty-six years ago this month, I completed my first full-length manuscript (for a fantasy novel which will absolutely NEVER see the light of day).
Fifteen years ago, in August, I attended my first writers’ conference. My then-current manuscript, a historical novel based on a wife of Genghis Khan, placed in the finals, and I believed my lifelong dream of becoming a published writer was on the horizon.
Fourteen years ago this month, I realized that novel would not sell.
Ten years ago this month, I made a commitment to treat my writing as more than just a hobby. I decided to write a book a year, whether or not those books found and agent or sold to a publishing house. I would write until I made it…or died trying.
Five years ago this month, I had written three more manuscripts. I had not found an agent, and I faced a terrifying possibility: What if my writing wasn’t good enough? What if I never found an agent? What if nobody published my work?
What if I died with sixty-seven unpublished manuscripts and twenty-two cats???
My son would delete my hard drive (and hopefully, find homes for those cats) and my life would amount to nothing but a hill of shattered and useless dreams.
I stared into the void, and the void stared back–and it laughed at my hopeless longing.
I made a difficult, life-changing decision that day: I would write the novels anyway.
I would write if I never found an agent. I would write if nobody published me. I would write if no one ever read the product of my labors.
I would write, because the words that burned inside me needed to find release, and because I knew that writing was my calling.
I sat down at my desk, opened a file, and titled it SHINOBI.
Two years and many hours later, the rest you would know it as Claws of the Cat.
Three weeks from today, I leave for Japan.
Two months from today the third Shinobinovel, FLASK OF THE DRUNKEN MASTER, releases.
Four months from today, I’ll in Ireland, teaching with Heather Webb on a writing retreat through Ireland Writer Tours.
Five months from today, I’ll be in Denver for the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold conference – and I’m honored to be one of this year’s finalists for the RMFW Writer of the Year Award.
The moral of this admittedly self-centered story is this: DO NOT GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS, no matter how impossible or far away they seem. Don’t judge success or failure by the time you’ve invested or the bumps and bruises you receive along the way.
If you know, in your heart, that you have a calling, pursue it with all the strength that is in you. Don’t let anyone stop you, and do not listen to the voices (inside your head or out in the world) that call you a failure and tell you to let it go.
Success requires getting up just one more time than someone knocks you down, and you never know if this is the final hurdle. You are stronger than you think, and your dream is too. Stay in the race. Get back up. Push forward.
You can make it if you try…and if you believe.