It’s one of those mornings again when I can’t decide on what to write without the fear of repetition. When I have so many thoughts and ideas cooking in my head and yet I can’t pick one and stick to it. Writer’s block, definitely. Or perhaps the fact that I write and write and write and then what? Besides I don’t feel that emotional link with any of the ideas I have at the moment. And I very well know that that one of the most important components of any great story is the emotional power. There’s an old saying about fiction:
“If there are no tears in the writer, there will be no tears in the reader.”
So I do what I usually do at times like this. I put my pen down and grab one of my old notebooks and read. I read success stories of other writers, writers who have beaten the odds. Here’s one that I would like to share with you.
When Linda Stafford was 15 she announced to her English teacher that she was going to write and illustrate her own books. Her classmates laughed at her and her teacher said:
“Don’t be silly. Only geniuses can become writers. And you are getting a D this semester.” She was so humiliated that she burst into tears. That night she wrote a short poem about broken dreams and mailed it to the Capper’s Weekly magazine. They published it and sent her $2. The next day she showed her teacher and class, they still laughed.
“Just plain dumb luck.” her teacher said. But this time she didn’t cry because she had sold the first thing she’d ever written.
During the next two years she wrote and sold dozens of poems, and by the time she graduated from high school she had a scrapbook filled with her published work and a C-average. But she didn’t mention her writing to anyone, her teachers, parents and friends. They were her dream killers.
Years later then she met a new friend and here’s what happened:
“It’s easy to write a book,” that new friend told me. “You can do it.”
“I don’t know if I am smart enough,” I said suddenly feeling 15 again and hearing echoes.
“Nonsense!” she said. “Anyone can write a book if they want to.”
I had four children- the oldest only four. We lived on a goat farm in Oklahoma, miles from anyone. While the children napped, I typed on my ancient typewriter. I wrote what I felt. It took nine months, just like a baby.
I chose a publisher at random, put the manuscript in an empty Pampers diapers package, which was the only box I could find (I’d never heard of manuscript boxes). I enclosed a letter that read: “I wrote this book myself, I hope you like it. I also drew the illustrations. Chapters 6 and 12 are my favorites. Thank you.”
A month later I received a contract, an advance on royalties, and a request to start working on another book.
(Crying Wind became a bestseller)
People ask what college I attended, what degrees I have and what qualifications I have to be a writer.
The answer is none. I just write.
I’m not a genius, I’m not gifted and I don’t write right. But I have beaten the odds because I tried and I didn’t give up. I wrote what I loved and had the guts to mail it. If it was rejected (many were), I put it back in the mail the next day.
If people must choose between their friends and their dreams, they must always choose their dreams. To all those who dream of writing, I’m shouting at you. “Yes, you can! Yes you can! Don’t listen to them.”