In my childhood, books were always revered items. Where most kids would complain about their presence under the Christmas tree, I would celebrate them…and often remark that I hadn’t received as many as I wanted! Nevertheless, my life of books wouldn’t fully be appreciated until my teen years, when I dreamed of nothing more than to be a novelist.
Though I spent much of my high school years struggling with an eating disorder, my dream didn’t falter. Yes, I spent years starving myself, and then years undoing that damage by bodybuilding, but still I had dreams. I always had dreams, even if I was too tired or distracted to make them happen.
Once I got over my hurdles of self-harm, I coped with the experience in a way I had always felt most comfortable: I wrote about it. I posted my story to some online forum (note: this was 2001, so consider how limited the webpages were and judge accordingly). From there, it was discovered by an editor who reached out to see if I would allow it to be published in her magazine - Twist Magazine. The headline given to my true-story piece was “REAL LIFE STORY: I overcame anorexia, but my problems were just beginning!” Sensational, but not entirely accurate.
Even so, I was finally a published author. Sort of. It was a rush of euphoria to see my words in print, even if they were only some of my words. As I stood in the Walmart magazine section feeling the surreality of seeing myself on glossy pages, I remember thinking…“Dang, I’ve made it.”
But I hadn’t. Not by a long shot.
As I read further, I noticed that my words weren’t entirely my own. They had been contorted into teen-speak by an editor who felt words like “progression” and “desensitized” were too inaccessible for her audience. So, what I wrote was twisted and shaped into a pretzel of another’s person’s assumptions about my experiences. And, at 21, I guessed it was fine because at least it was something.
But it wasn’t. Not by a long shot.
I spent the next few years living a Bohemian life; painting, mostly, but still pining away at thoughts of being the next Hemingway. Or Alcott. Or, really, I would have settled for Danielle Steele. But it didn’t happen. In living the artist’s life, I discovered what all artists discover in time: a need for money. That need led to a part-time job at a law office, which eventually unfolded into a full-time job as a paralegal. Over the years, I evolved from a muse-seeking artist into a professional woman with a tiny office. And then came the husband, the kids, and all obligations that can remove a person from their dreams. But I always had dreams, even if I was too tired or distracted to make them happen.
Those dreams have laid dormant. Those dreams have languished and lounged in my mind. They have occasionally even laughed in my face.
But they aren’t finished. Not by a long shot.
I reemerge today – in this new year – seeking a resolution that I’ve always held but never been capable of achieving. I’m afraid to admit it openly because it feels so naked. So vulnerable. The wanting of something that may never come to pass. The hope for something that seems so far away. And yet, the wise among us always say you have to make your desires known if you want them to come true.
So…here is my wish: I want to write a book.
Lots of people have done it. I even know a couple who have managed with children and impediments far greater than mine. And yet, at double the age I was when my first piece was published, I have yet to match their bravery or light or ethic. I have faltered and I have failed to do what I have always dreamed of doing.
But I’m not finished. Not by a long shot.
As we have become ensconced by a culture of transparency and accountability (at least, so they say), I feel like maybe these are the very tools I have always been missing from previous eras. Maybe I fell short so many years ago because I didn’t speak this truth more often, shouting it from the rafters and making it known to the universe. But I’m doing it now, hoping its presence in the spoken air will help it materialize into reality. Or, at very least, light a fire under me because I know there will be some watching and hoping that I fail. And proving people wrong is kind of my jam.
So, let me repeat my intentions for the year – I want to write a book. And I want to do it this year. 21 years after my first taste of success. 21 years after I first saw (some of) my words in print.
This is my hope.
Because I can do it. It’s not a long shot…just a long journey. And, in this journey, we should always bet on ourselves.