I was always 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 seriously considered writing as a career. Since I grew up poor, I knew I wanted a job that would get me out of the “barrio”. I was scared that writing would not provide me a steady paycheck. I had a knack for math and science as a kid therefore ended up becoming a physician.
A selfish luxury….
While I put my dream to become a writer on the back burner as life, kids, and careers got in the way, I never forgot about it. I have not always been forthcoming about my desire to be a writer, even to myself. Part of my hesitation was that I was afraid to sound like a spoiled, yuppie snob. After all, how many people can quit their jobs to work on a novel? This only happens in movies and books (ironically!). I desperately wanted to be a writer but as the primary breadwinner in my family, I did not have the luxury of quitting my job to follow a dream that would never replace my physician salary. So I wrote when I could during stolen moments of peace and quiet. In 2007, I finished a manuscript for a children's fantasy novel after toiling with it for over one year. I felt the way a toddler does when he takes his first steps: shocked and proud at the same time.
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. After I wrote my manuscript, I submitted it to Candlewick Press. 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 a very clunky 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. Once again, I buried my dream to be a writer due to fear. I realize now that I needed to polish the manuscript to a much higher level before sending it to Candlewick or any publisher.
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)
So why not acting? Or jewelry making? Or painting? Or dancing? I loved all those forms of art too....though I am not particularly talented in any of them. I write because I want to touch reader's hearts. I want to move emotions in people. I want to share my emotions through my stories. If someone reads my stories and either smiles, laughs, cries, questions, or becomes angry, I feel that my mission as a writer is complete. My biggest fear is that someone will read my book and not feel moved at the end. I have a story to tell, and as the picture quote at the beginning of this blog suggests, I am much better at communicating my feelings in writing than any other way. Most important, I write stories to share the beauty of my culture and people. I write to showcase diverse characters in our world and the worlds I make up.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Maya Angelou
I have swallowed my pride and decided to just write. I would rather say, “Oh well, I tried and it didn’t work out”, than, “What if….”.
Over the last year, I have spent most of my time refining my writing. I write almost every day to flex my writer's muscles. I took a valuable fiction writing class from my friend Icess Fernandez. I read Guy Kawasaki's APE book. I revised and revised and revised my novel in a Monteverde coffee shop while sipping on mochaccinos topped with whipped cream. I hired a professional editor to edit the manuscript after I revised it raw. I opened an author Twitter account. I built an author website. I will publish The Iris of Issoria whether traditionally or indie style. I am so proud of Iris. I believe it is a high-quality product that the whole family will enjoy. I hope my readers enjoy reading this book as much I enjoyed writing it.
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