This photo pretty much sums me up.
A little messy mud sprite. I was either running around in the woods on our two acres in Sonora, CA, riding our old horse, or reading and being creative in my room. Art was my first passion and I was often doodling in my notebook instead of taking notes in class, even into college.
I graduated in 2007 from Cal State Long Beach with a BFA in drawing and painting. Right after graduating, I landed full time at an outdoor science school for the Long Beach school district. For two years I taught 5th graders about science and nature, went on hikes, sang songs around the campfire, and generally had a blast.
Then the recession hit in 2009 and they shut down the school. I hustled doing murals, illustrations, random odd jobs, and wondered what the heck I was going to do or wanted to do for that elusive 'career.'
One day, unemployed once again, broke, sitting in my room and feeling rather despondent, I began imagining...
Wouldn't it be nice if a black unicorn came and took me away to a magical land full of adventure and wonder? My first novel was born.
It was total escapism, but I began writing the story I wanted to read, and four years, several jobs, moves, boyfriends, and coffees later I'd thrown my first book up on Amazon kindle.
And watched it vanish because I had no idea what I was doing. The writing leach, however, had latched on. I kept learning, and wrote a sci-fi novel, novella, and numerous short stories. I was hired for writing gigs, including a script for the exercise app Zombies Run. I faced my fear and applied to writing contests, and—to my shock—won awards. I attended an agent pitch at a major writing conference and—to my shock—had every agent ask for my sci-fi manuscript. Eventually, I sent my manuscript out to agents and—to my shock—received several manuscript requests and open doors.
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Cue next major world event: the pandemic 🎉
The agents went silent, and I nearly gave up on trying to be an author at all. Instead, I played Witcher for weeks straight (escaping once again from reality), until my husband bravely dragged me out of the PS4 bed-cave. Pretending to be a sword-wielding monster slayer and drawing cartoons had actually done wonders for my mental health. I got back to querying.
This time, however, the landscape had changed. Agents weren't responding at all. The industry had been shaken by the pandemic, editors were resigning, and the machine was jammed with an exhausted, dwindling workforce plus too many pandemic-manuscripts.
I nearly gave up again. By now, my husband and I were traveling in our van, expenses were low, and I was nearing forty. Cue midlife crises. Was I ever going to make this passion and goal happen? Hiding in the shadows is a safe place to be until you fade away. After ten years of working on the craft in-between jobs, getting married, and now traveling, it was time to turn an obsessive hobby into a career.
I was also tired of playing the waiting game. The path to traditional publishing is a long, slow, rocky one that can span years. Besides, even IF one is published, there's still the risk of being dropped by a publisher if your book doesn't sell well enough.
I decided to give indie publishing another try. Unlike ten+ years ago, there's now a plethora of information and YouTube videos from successful indie writers.
I was out of excuses.
So—pending another 'fun' world event or artificial intelligence taking over—here I am. Though I'm still terrified, still battling perfectionism and imposter syndrome (like every writer ever), it's write or die. Well, die is a given I guess, which is exactly why I choose to write.
If my stories can help someone through a rough day/year, or they also enjoy pondering existence, or maybe they learn something about themselves and relationships, find a community, or are inspired to throw pragmatism to the winds of madness and become a writer...then I will die happy.
Okay, maybe not happy, dying is dumb, but I'll die without regrets; the truly elusive goal in all our short, mortal lives.