When I was fourteen years old I wrote something in my journal that shaped the rest of my life. I wrote down a goal to publish my first novel by the time I was thirty.
From that time forward, writing was my obsession, the driving force behind nearly everything I did. I did not meet that goal. At thirty years old I was busy with two very young children, heaps of laundry and sinks full of dirty dishes. Somewhere along the line, I made a choice to be a full-time mom, and that choice took precedence over becoming the famous best-selling author I had always dreamed of becoming.
But I kept writing. In those early years I wrote articles about anything and everything - in local publications - for free. Then I became a columnist for those publications and a few others - and I got paid - a little. Then I ended up with my own newspaper column that ran in three different papers. Google revealed that I was being quoted on blogs and my words were spread abroad. It felt good to be noticed. But everything I wrote - in magazines and newspapers - was fleeting. Read once and then forgotten. That's the nature of magazines and newspapers. Tomorrow there is always something new to replace what is written today.
I yearned to write something that would last. My heart kept reaching back to that goal set long ago to be a novelist. Novels last. Some books stick in your mind and soul forever. They become a part of you. They are cherished. They are loved like part of the family. Some books I read thirty years ago still bring tears to my eyes when I tell my kids about them (and insist they read them, too.) That's what I wanted. Immortality. For my words to be remembered long after I am gone.
The truth was that during all those years of writing, I never wrote a novel because I was afraid. Afraid I wasn't good enough. Afraid I didn't have what it takes. But a funny thing happened. After thirteen years of writing all that other stuff, I got pretty good at it. And by the time I had had enough of magazines and newspapers, I had gained the experience and confidence to give novel writing a try. I was right, though. I wasn't good enough. At least not at first. My first novel sucked. But I kept writing. I never stopped writing.
When my first novel finally hits the shelves this fall, I will be forty-three years old. I'm thirteen years overdue. But that's okay. I'm satisfied. I'm living my dream.