Years ago, when I was in film school, I had a dream. In my dream I saw a tall woman. She stood at the top of many steep marble steps, and others were climbing those steps to ask her questions. Those others all seemed pleased with the answers the received.
After watching for a while, I decided to walk up and ask a question of my own. As I came before her, I noticed the woman was bald and wearing a wide headdress. At the time, I remember thinking it odd, but I asked my question anyway. "Will I be successful?" I queried. I meant at what I was doing at that moment, working to get through film school and then working in the industry past that. The woman gazed at me thoughtfully for several seconds before answering.
"You will," she nodded. "Only it will not be what you think."
Okay, as answers went, that was disappointing. Right in the middle of my MFA as it was, it didn't come as the best of news. When I woke, as one normally does from a dream, I shook it off and went on with my life. I finished my MFA, taught for a few years and then went looking for a part-time job to feed my independent filmmaking habit. The dream nagged at me, though, over the years.
"We don't have any part-time positions available," a hiring manager for a new bookstore informed me. "I have a full-time position, though."
That started my career in bookselling and bookstore management. But after a few years at that job, I regularly developed problems with sciatica. I learned it was from lifting heavy boxes of magazines off the loading dock at work. My doctor suggested I find a desk job instead. My last day at the bookstore was in July, 2007. I intended to take a few months off and have a nice Christmas (I hadn't been able to celebrate the holiday the entire time I worked in retail) before looking for another job. My husband suggested I use the time off to write. I'd thought of doing that often enough, and even had a few chapters of things I'd started, stuffed in desk drawers. I began writing, but wasn't truly serious about it until my life (and my husband's) changed dramatically.
While I sat in my husband's ICU room (as he lay in bed, breathing on a vent in a drug-induced coma) I began to write seriously. Every day I'd bring my notebook and pen, scribbling furiously away at the very first novel I ever completed. Not only did the writing keep me busy, it saved my sanity. I was writing about lives other than my own, and that was ultimately better than what I woke to every day. And the writing didn't stop. When my husband regained consciousness and started rehab (he was already going through dialysis after a major organ shutdown) I followed him to two other hospitals, still writing every spare moment. When my husband came home, I was still writing, in between caring for him and driving him to clinics and doctor visits. In less than six months, I had two finished novels and was working on a third.
My husband and I both wept when a doctor announced that his kidneys were working again, after five months of dialysis. Prior to that, our family physician was already talking to us about placing my husband on a donor list.
In all, I wrote at least twelve novels while my husband got on his feet again. No, I didn't sleep much during that time. I wrote a lot at night, while my husband was asleep. It is quieter, then. Nobody calls, knocks, or generally disturbs. At times, I wrote until five or six am, going to bed then for three or four hours of sleep. In the past four years, (yes, the fourth anniversary of my leaving the bookstore is quickly approaching) I've written thirty books. The first twelve or thirteen are in desperate need of rewrites. Most of them are much too long as well. I've self-published the fourteenth novel as an e-book, and the sequel is in the revision/editing stage. I've learned a lot in the past four years. I still have a lot to learn. My advice to aspiring authors? Write. Just write. It can save you, when all is said and done.
When I first had my dream about the oracle (that's how I think of her, now), I hoped it was just a dream and that her answer was wrong. After all, I'd spent a lot of time, effort and money getting my degree. Nowadays, I hope it wasn't just a dream and that the woman was right. And I hope this is what she meant when she said I'd be successful. Writing has become the passion that filmmaking and animation never were. And I hope that somewhere in the e-verse, a few people will enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoyed writing them.
Blood Wager, Blood destiny #1 (my fourteenth novel and first self-published e-book), is available as a kindle title and as a nook book. Blood Passage, Blood Destiny #2, is scheduled for release September 1, 2011.