This article is a continuation of the Achieving Your Dream blog posts…
My dream started when I was a kid; but, of course, at the time, I didn’t really think it could go anywhere. Kids couldn’t do anything, right? You just go to school, come home, do chores, homework, play sports, and hang out with friends—the typical childhood life.
But, I experienced something that I hope you, my dear reader, never had to experience. I was bullied. When I was growing up, we lived in Port Alberni. One year, my parents decided that they no longer wanted to live in the city, and we moved out to the country. This meant that I would start my Grade Three year in a new school. Before this point, I had no negative experiences that I could recall, aside from failing my first attempt at Grade Three. The teachers and my family decided that I wasn’t catching on to things fast enough and felt that another year would help me out.
Anyway, shortly after I started at my new school, the kids had me pegged as someone not worth hanging out with. So, I’d just sit by myself and read. Since I had a lot of time to myself, I’d also bring my bible to school to read. When the other kids saw this, I became more of an outcast. I can remember the kids asking me to read it out loud to them, and as I was reading, they would laugh and giggle. Needless to say, I stopped doing that pretty quickly. They would call me names; throw spit-wads; pull my hair. You name it.
If any new kid joined the school, they would quickly be told not to hang out with me or they’d have the same fate. So they would either join in on the teasing or just stay away from me. I was called an ugly dog and my self-esteem plummeted. And as time went on, the bullying even became physical, so much so that the police had to get involved.
This carried on until my 12th year in high school. Our city had about 22,000 people roughly and only 1 high school. That meant all the kids that tormented me in my earlier grades joined me in high school. There was nowhere else I could go. But I’m grateful for the four girls who befriended me during those years and the library clubs.
Back then, we didn’t really have the internet like we do now. Social media didn’t exist, so class bullies couldn’t get to me at home. And during the time we lived in the country(between my Grade Three and Grade Six year), we didn’t have a full cable package either, so we had to find other things to do with our time. I signed out an endless supplies of books from the library. I can remember reading Sweet Valley Twins, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and whatever other book I found enjoyable. I just devoured them.
It was between grades 3-6 that I found out that I loved to write. I loved to tell stories because it allowed me to dream of better times, away from the harsh reality of bullying. I’d write about being a famous pro hockey player or a teenage mutant ninja cat(yes, I wrote fan-fiction about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). I could be the popular kid that everyone loved, or a mermaid, or a musician. Anything you name it. Being able to dream through my stories gave me hope, a belief that there was a life beyond the bullying.
There were times, when living out in the country, that I would sit on the railing of our porch in the back of our house and write. Poetry was my go-to genre when I was particular upset or sad. My emotions would pour out onto the page, and it would help me feel better. It was my release—my healing power. Bottling things up inside never ended well, so all my anger and pain was focused on something constructive instead of destructive.
But never did I think that my newest passion would ever become anything more at that age. As mentioned earlier, there was no worldwide internet. There were no writing websites, like Wattpad and Raddish. There were no eBooks. If you wanted to publish anything, you had to send an actual paper copy to a publisher. It was one of those seemingly impossible dreams. But I was okay with that because I didn’t write to get published, it was a way of life for me—a way of coping with the difficult times.
Since my mind was always active and very rarely quiet, I had a difficult time sleeping at night. My method for falling asleep was to tell myself a story in my head, which I would end up writing down the next day. I guess writing has always been in my blood, my passion.
I dare say that every kid has a passion for something. Sometimes, to us parents, it can seem unachievable and we try to get them to think more realistically, but we need to let them explore because that’s what life is all about. My oldest son was always fascinated with diseases right from when he was little. He’d read about them endlessly, and often tried to talk to his teachers about them, and they’d freak out because it was almost like he was obsessed with them, and they didn’t think it was healthy. Sometimes he even knew more than the teachers did . It was his passion. Today, at 28 years old, he is working on becoming a pharmacologist.
If only we could all learn how to tap into that passion when we’re young and utilize it. I believe we’re all given a gift that ties in with our passion. Take Akiane Kramarik, for example, she is an art prodigy and started drawing complex, realistic paintings before she even turned ten. I don’t mean stick people. I mean full-on realistic looking paintings of people that would blow your mind.
I think we vastly underestimate our kids today and their potential because we have gotten too used to underestimating ourselves and what we’re capable of. We project that onto our own kids, leaving them with the thought that maybe their dreams are too impossible. Having been bullied, I didn’t have too much confidence in myself and that affected my choices in life.
Despite writing a lot as a kid, I didn’t officially write my first novel until I was about 26 years old, and it was more than a decade later before it saw the light of day and was actually published. My first book was published two months after I turned 40. And now I look back and tell myself, what could I have accomplished had I believed in myself?
You see, after I wrote my story, I was so excited that I shared it in a critique group on yahoo. In my mind, I’d written a gem of a story and thought it was going to wow everyone (new writer dreams *lol*). Wrong. They tore it to itty bitty pieces, and it broke my heart.
After that experience, I put the story away for a few months. But eventually, I had the courage to pull it back out and really examine it, taking into careful consideration their critiques. I realized that much of what they were saying was right, so I re-wrote my story.
When I finished it a second time, I attended a writers’ Conference and had the chance to pitch my book to one of the Big Five, and the gentleman said that I could send him my full manuscript. I was over the moon, elated like you wouldn’t believe. Excited that someone seemed to like my story idea, especially after the critique group tore even the idea itself apart.
Anyway, not long later, I received a rejection in the mail. I don’t think anything hurts as much as that first publisher rejection, especially when you just found the courage to let someone else read it after an earlier rejection. With my low self-esteem, and ultimately two rejections, I just gave up my passion and threw all my focus into my young family—I was a married, mother of four. That was in 2006.
It wasn’t until 2016 that my passion came back to life with the help of a writing/reading website called, Wattpad, which my daughter introduced me to. She happened to find it and was writing a story on it, and I thought I’d check it out. One could never be too careful as a parent. After I joined the site and began to explore, my passion began to burn inside me again. That’s when I pulled my story back out of the dusty recesses of my usb drive, and I started to read it again.
Having been away from it for so long, a decade, I was able to approach it as a reader and could see everything that I needed to improve, so I started working on it again. Re-writing what I had to and editing everything else. As I started to share it, it took off and people seemed to love it. That’s when I learned that every story will have an audience, and every story will have people that don’t like it.
One of the ladies on the website knew of romance publisher and told me that I should submit it. After much debate with myself, I sent it off again. This time through email (yippy, I no longer had to send a papercopy, which I did the first time *lol* That was far too expensive). After one agonizing year, and a couple of emails back and forth, I received the wonderful acceptance email from Black Velvet Seductions.
I was finally going to be a published author. That was something I couldn’t believe. The dream that started when I was a kid was finally coming to fruition. My first novel, “Her Lover’s Face,” was published in February of 2018. My second novel was published in 2019, and there are many others in the editing stage.
Aside from my novels, I also have 8 short stories published in anthologies. I have to admit that I am partial to an anthology called, “Slow Burn: The Fires That Bind Us,” released by Little Quail Press, which was created to help support the first responders in Australia after the Wildfires ravaged their countries. All the proceeds will be donated to the NSW Rural Fire Service. This anthology will only be up until May, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, I hope you will and support our hard working men and women.
Everyone needs support, especially when life gets away from us, which can often impact our drive or ambition to follow after our dreams. Sometimes, it’s our own mind that gets in the way. But that’s when we have to be stubborn and not let anything hold us back. We need to stay determined and keep on the path that will lead us to our dreams. I’ve learned that there is a good and bad side to being stubborn, and a good and bad side to being determined. We don’t always use determination and stubbornness in a good way, and it can hamper us rather than guiding us forward.
And this is where a person’s mindset comes in.
Please tune in next week as we explore Mindsets.
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