I wrote a masterpiece when I was thirteen years old, during the summer between eighth grade and my freshman year of high school. It had everything: rock bands, abusive fathers, teenage pregnancies, diabetic comas, suicides, severe injuries from drunk driving, male anorexia (and I don’t mean to sound flippant about of these truly serious issues; I thought at that age I was giving a voice to deep matters but had no idea how to avoid going overboard) . . . and then for the heck of it, vampires showed up and made all the characters immortal.
It was not good. At all.
Naturally, I thought it was genius and showed it to my mother, an English teacher. My mom, God rest her soul, had to know how terrible it was, but she was also the most encouraging the person in the world, so when I told her I had big dreams about becoming a novelist after I finished my Lurlene McDaniel meets Christopher Pike madness, she encouraged me to write another. This book was actually a six volume, epic vampire saga that I penned every day in chemistry class. Again, it was dreck, though I still have a soft spot for some of those characters. I kept at it, writing every day, polishing and trying new things. The sagas gave way to much more manageable plots. Before I graduated high school, I actually snagged an agent. Things didn’t work out with him, and I’m grateful for it because I wasn’t ready for a career in publishing at that young age.
I continued to write new books for all of my early twenties, and I nearly gave it up at one point. My mother, my biggest supporter of my dream, passed away when I was twenty-three. Then I became a mother myself. It took four years for me to commit to writing a story again, and when I did, that book eventually became A MURDER OF MAGPIES.
The dreams you want the most are the ones you have to keep chasing, no matter how long it takes.