Every now and then, I wonder if my goals and dreams are reachable. Am I really doing what I’m supposed to be doing, or am I wasting my time? If I’m supposed to be a writer, why aren’t I published yet? Can I report back to my family, friends, and readers that I’m really doing everything I can to reach these goals, or am I just sitting around waiting for that Golden Ticket to fall in my lap?
Am I just fooling myself?
I think not!
Because every time I think of throwing in the towel, two things happen: First, I start singing that song from Annie: “It’s a Hard-Knock Life”. The one with the lyrics about what a sad little life those orphan girls live. And second, I remember.
I remember why I love writing.
It’s because I love reading.
And I remember that my favorite authors weren’t always authors. They all started somehow, sometime. And they never gave up.
They inspire me:
L. Frank Baum was married with two children when his newspaper business folded. In 1898, at the age of 42, he had received many rejection letters and decided the only way to get published was to do it himself. He self-published his book, By The Candelabra’s Glare”, which finally garnered him the attention he needed. Two years later, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published, leading the way for 15 sequels.
Laura Ingalls Wilder devoted her life to her husband, children, and their farm. It was her daughter Rose’s encouragement that led her to write Little House in the Big Woods, the first in the “Little House” series of books for children. She was 65 when it was published in 1932.
Louisa May Alcott fashioned her Little Women stories after her childhood and sisters. She fancied herself to be Jo March, the unsettled tomboy writer of the four. Struck by poverty, Louisa determined to help her family by any means, and took such jobs as seamstress, governess, and teacher. However, she never let go of her dream of writing and at the age of 22, her first book was published. At age 36, Little Women brought her her most famous success.
Stephen J. Cannell overcame dyslexia to produce and write many popular television shows from the early 1970s through the 1990s. He sold his production company and began his second career: a novelist. His Shane Scully series is a popular cop-drama-in-print; the final novel having been published December 6, 2011, just over one year after his death.
Charles Dickens was born into an impoverished family. His father often lived beyond his means and when Charles was young, his father was arrested into Debtor’s Prison. His mother and siblings soon followed. Charles was a young teen when he was forced to quit school in order to work over ten hours each day to help his family. These experiences flowed out of him in his creative works, most notably, A Christmas Carol.
Lucy Maud Montgomery’s mother died when she was just 21 months old. Out of grief, her father handed custody over to Lucy’s maternal grandparents who raised her in an overly strict, lonely manner. When she was sixteen, Lucy spent a year with her father and his new wife, but came back to her beloved Cavendish. Lucy credited her lonely childhood as starting her creative mind, as that’s when created several imaginary friends and began to write. A poem was locally published when she was just 16, but her real success came at age 34 when her first novel was printed: Anne of Green Gables was the fairy-tale telling of a mixture of Lucy’s childhood and the life she had wished for. Ten more novels recounting life on Prince Edward Island followed.
J. M. Barrie’s family dissuaded his writing tendencies, instead encouraging him to go into Ministry. He bargained with his parents and they agreed that he could attend college to study literature. He was first published with minor works in 1888. It wasn’t until 1904, when Barrie was 44 years old, that Peter Pan entered the world. Shortly before his death, Barrie gave all Peter Pan rights to the Great Ormond Street Hospital; which to this day, continues to benefit from Barrie’s talents.
These stories and more inspire me. They inspire me to write my stories. They inspire me to keep at it, no matter what. Because some day, I’ll be on a list like this.
Whatever it is you’re born to do, don’t give up. Learn from others who have forged the way for you. Let their lights lead you. And blaze your own trail for those who follow.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart…” [Colossians 3:23a].
And Frankly, My Dear… that’s all she wrote!