One small step …

A couple weeks ago I had the good fortune to sign with the wonderful and talented Lucienne Diver of The Knight Agency. It’s taken this long for the good news to truly sink in, and as it has I’ve been thinking more and more about all the little happenings and decisions that got me to this point.

It’s been five years since I first began to seriously consider the idea of writing a book, and I still remember the moment that decision clicked. I was sitting alone in a bedroom in Valparaiso Chile. I was a few weeks into a six month study abroad program. My introduction to city life in Chile had already included waking up to what was at the time the fifth strongest earthquake in recorded history. I was feeling isolated and unbalanced, and seriously beginning to question my life choices. My Spanish was good enough to get by, but not so good that I felt confident socializing. It was a frustrating and humbling experience.

I’d spent that particular evening finishing one of the books in Brent Weeks’ Night Angel series. Having run out of book, I flipped to the acknowledgments. I found myself smiling, and relating as much to Weeks’ frank description of learning to write as I had to the actual story. I found myself thinking, I wish I could write like that. On the heels of that realization came the obvious question.

What, exactly, was stopping me?

Up until that moment it had been a vague fear of failure. Writing books was something other people did. Other people had good story ideas. How could I possibly write anything worthwhile when there were already so many great stories out there? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized this was something I really wanted. I needed an outlet for linguistic frustration, even if it was one only I saw. And besides, I’d already survived a major earthquake, and learned to navigate the city’s map-less bus system, how much harder could this be? With that naive optimism glowing inside me, I sat down and started typing.

That first book became a refuge, a way to remind myself that I could still string together words into sentences that were more than just functional. I finished the project a year or so later, and proudly showed it to a few close friends and family members. It was awful. Eventually I managed to figure that out even though most of my readers were too polite to say so. I revised. I rewrote most of the book. Twice. Eventually it got a little better. Then I wrote another book, and another.

Would I eventually have gotten to this point without that night in Chile to drive me forward? Who knows. But I can say that what started as a refuge has grown to an addiction, one I’m happy to keep feeding.