A secret revealed….
I always wanted to be a writer. I was in Writing UIL when I was in middle school and I wrote for the school newspaper…..yes, I was that geeky! I wrote stories when I was a little girl and I even wrote a short novel when I was in high school. I want to kick myself for not saving those treasures!
A dream set aside…
Sadly, I never considered writing as a career. Since I grew up poor, I knew I wanted a career that would get out of the “barrio”. I knew that writing would not provide me a steady paycheck. Fortunately, I seemed to have a knack for math and science as a kid therefore ended up becoming a physician.
A selfish luxury….
I have not been forthcoming about my desire to be a writer, even to myself. In fact, this is the first time I have publically discussed it, except with very close friends and family. Part of my hesitation is that I am afraid to act like a spoiled yuppie. “Oooh, I am taking a year off to be a writer!” How many people have an opportunity like that? How many people have the luxury to quit their jobs and move to a beautiful country to pursue their secret, life-long dreams? I hated the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I felt sorry for her depression and suicidal ideations, but I could not help thinking that she was selfish for leaving her marriage to “find herself”. And she was so spoiled (and lucky!) for getting to live abroad in 3 amazing countries at the expense of her publisher. Then I realized I probably hated the book because……..well……I was just a tad bit jealous of her. Of course I would love to leave my stressful life to move somewhere else and write! But unlike the author, I did not want to “find myself”.
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
Or redesigning yourself……
Another reason I am rather shy about my writing is because it is the one area in my life where I feel I have failed. A few years ago I wrote a Young Adult (YA) fantasy fiction manuscript that I submitted to Candlewick Press. To those who don’t know, Candlewick has published some of the best children’s books in the last 20 years. I met one of the editors at a Society of Children’s Bookwriters Conference, and she had asked me to submit even though Candlewick does not take unsolicited manuscripts. I was so excited when I finally submitted the manuscript.
I got rejected. Ouch! It hurt! I felt I had shown the editor a picture of my babies and she said, “Yuck! What ugly children!” In efforts to protect my ego, I did the only rational thing I could. I put away my manuscript and did not open it for years.
Following my dream…
When I decided to leave behind a fast-paced career in academic medicine, to move to Costa Rica to live a simpler life, I knew that this was my chance to make an honest attempt at a writing career. I set aside my yuppie guilt and my fear of rejection with inspiration from the quote below….
“Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely necessary.”
–Jessamyn West (American author)
I have swallowed my pride and decided to just write. If I don’t get published or get a book deal or if nothing comes out of this at the end of the year, at least I know tried. I have my medical career on which to fall back. I would rather say, “Oh well, I tried and it didn’t work out”, rather than, “What if….”. So once the kids start school in a couple of weeks, I will get started on my writing projects, including overhauling and resubmitting my YA fantasy fiction novel. After all, I would rather someone else reject my writing than reject it myself.
Do you have any unfulfilled dreams that you would like to follow?