When I was seven, I wrote my first short story. A spooky short story. The kind of story I believed Hitchcock would use on his television show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. My sister loved it and said I was destined to be a writer. My parents said nothing. The story went into a drawer. It’s posted in my Writing Practice.

Emily Dickinson and I met my freshmen year of high school. She got me. I got her. I decided to be a poet. I wrote every night before bed— my first writing practice. One day, I copied all my poems into a spiral notebook and sent it off to Random House. They sent me a rejection letter and returned my spiral notebook— good thing, it was the only copy. Their kindness escaped me at the time. I was disappointed, but I wrote on— totally clueless about how to build a life as a writer. I just thought I’d die. My poems would be published. And I’d end up famous. I think I actually believed that’s how it would work— I don’t believe I really understood the dying part. 

I did come up with a plan by the time I got to college. I would become a journalist, write for National Geographic, and travel. I’d write poetry in my spare time. My freshman writing professor didn’t agree. He criticized everything I wrote without offering any advice on how to improve. Devastated, I cried throughout my hour-long final evaluation, which is probably the only reason I ended up with a C in the course. And so, I changed my major to theatre— they were nuts about me in the theatre— and I continued to write. In secret. It was my way of nurturing the writer within. Such is the power of the human spirit.

The time between when you’re no longer a beginner, but you’re not yet in the business is the hardest. And no one can tell you how long this phase will last— Sara Zarr

How I will cross the bridge from no longer a beginner to being “in the business” remains a mystery, but I have the patience and persistence needed to keep showing up until it happens.

I invite you to follow my progress on Notes from the Toolbox. And if you’d like assistance in developing your inner strength reach out to me here.