Well, the longer I'm in this thing called "being a writer" (which, by the way, sometimes has very little to do with actual writing), the more I'm discovering that people want to know about me. I mean, really know about me.
Since February, I've been putting my standard blurb on everything that calls for something "about the author." Nothing too personal, just the...you know, "blurb." You know, this one:
I believe sometimes you have to look really, REALLY hard to find the good in people, but it's there. I believe that I'm shrinking (I swear five years ago I was two inches taller). I believe my husband is quite possibly one of the most amazing men in the entire world (I can't be sure because I haven't met all of them). I believe coffee and chocolate, when combined, could be the basis for world peace. I believe that Jesus rocks and communism doesn't. I believe that white makes you look fat and black collects lint. I believe summer's too hot, winter's too cold and fall was made for football. I like dogs better than cats and the first movie in a trilogy is invariably the best.
And that is all absolutely true. Recently, however (as in today 4/24/11), it occurs to me that readers are interested in knowing just who it is that they're dealing with, who they're following and reading. Well, let me tell you a little bit more about me.
Though I was raised in a Christian home, I was an obnoxious child. My mother had to actually seek medical advice about how to deal with my temper tantrums. I'd hold my breath (literally) until I got what I wanted. Yep, the whole blue-in-the-face thing. What was the good doctor's advice, you ask? "Let her pass out." So they did. It didn't help my temper, but I think it killed several million very-valuable brain cells, cells that I still miss to this day.
Fast forward a few years to middle school. We'd moved a couple of times and I'd had my fair share of problems, everything from the woes of popularity to the woes of a new school where I was relentlessly bullied by a ruthless band of she-men rednecks. In the midst of this trying period, I had also developed migraines and a paralyzing fear of germs, dying in my sleep and spiders. Oh, and did I mention that I was prone to terrifying nightmares and vivid imaginations, imaginations that I would use to concoct wild--and extremely untrue--stories? Obviously, I was every parent's dream child.
Fast forward a few more years to high school. I was a cheerleader so I had a bit of an attitude. I liked to rebel. I liked to laugh and party and be loud and thumb my nose at authority. I prided myself on the haphazard acceptance of any and all double-dog-dare-yas. I had a few run-ins with teachers and principals alike. Nothing too serious. I think most of them were well aware that what they had on their hands was just a "rebel-without-a-cause" type. Nothing to be too alarmed about.
Sprinkle in a few run-away attempts, driving without a license, ear-splitting screaming matches, making the decision to quit school at least twice and that was my childhood in a nutshell. And, believe it or not, my parents handled it all very admirably. Even the part about letting me pass out. How crazy is that? Seriously, though, they were awesome. Still are.
After finally graduating the utterly traumatizing experience called "high school," I quickly realized that college was too much of the same. I mean, I changed my major three times in two years. So I ventured out into the working world. Right off the bat, it was not to my liking. In just over 30 years, I've had just over 30 jobs. It doesn't sound all that bad until you factor in the fact that I didn't even get my first job until I was, like, seventeen. Yeah, now you've got the picture. I have actually coined the phrase "quitting Tuesday" because of the randomness with which I would up and quit a job. Needless to say, that seemed to happen more often on Tuesdays, and that probably because of the nastiness of Mondays.
My shortest term of employment was with Shoney's. I only worked one shift. Actually, it took less than that for me to figure out that refilling the salad bar was not for me, but I stuck it out the full 8 hours. Wasn't I the brave, determined soul?
Maturity brought with it a bit more stability. I worked in a law office for 9 whole months, a personal best for me up to that point. Following that, I went back to school and secured a job as a database manager/ Senior IT Tech (and held it) for a staggering 7 years. I think someone was drugging me during that time. As you can see, that was hardly par for my course. I've deduced that drinking coffee containing a "Mickey" each day is the only plausible excuse for my bizarre behavior.
The one bright spot in all of that was meeting my husband, the best thing to ever happen to me. Ours is quite a story in and of itself, one best saved for a longer piece of virtual paper.
Anywho, after that, I decided to go back to school for nursing and became an RN. That worked out well...at first. I quickly discovered, however, that no matter the job, the people, the day, the year, the weather, the pay, the motivation, or the position of the sun and the moon, I was simply not cut out for traditional employment. I wasn't "normal" no matter how much I wanted to be, so what did that make me? What was I to do with my life? What kind of a quilt could be made from all the irregular and diverse pieces of my life, pieces that had no pattern, no commonality? Pieces that made no sense and didn't seem to fit?
There was a period of years in there, after nursing school but before writing--right around the time that I was flirting with having a nervous breakdown just to escape the reality of my situation--when I prayed so hard so many times every day that I worried that God might sever His connection with me entirely, just to shut me up. All I prayed for, all I ever wanted, was to do something that I liked. I even specified that I didn't have to "love" it, only "like" it. I was willing to compromise.
And then along came a break. Not a break, as in "I got my big break." Not that kind of break. This was the kind of break that went along with "quitting Tuesdays." Yes, I quit my job--again--to go in search of a better one--again--one that would make me happy. Or at the very least, not make me miserable. It was during that 2-week "break" that I wrote my first novel.
It was a labor of love. I had a story in my head, one that I felt like I had to write and that the entire world had to read. I wrote pretty much day and night for 14 days, finishing with a 105,000-word paranormal romance that I fell in love with. Now, of course, I realize that I could never publish it without a complete overhaul, but at the time, I thought it was the next Romeo and Juliet. Well maybe not that tragic, but something equally compelling.
I knew--I just knew--that I was destined to be a writer, therefore, I would send my novel out to agents, everyone would love it and fight over publishing it and my story would be told. WORLDWIDE. Now, did it happen that way? Heck no! Was I surprised? Heck yeah! I was shocked! And devastated! Did I mention that I was born a dreamer, too? A big, nasty one. I've always heard, though, that if you're going to be a bear, be a grizzly. Well, let me just say, I'm the mother of all grizzlies when it comes to dreaming.
Anyway, that was in 2009. I've done a little of this and a little of that since then. I've held a couple of jobs (short-term obviously) and I've written 13 more novels since that first one, 12 of which are now available on Amazon and several other places. But the moral of the story is this: God answered my prayers. In a big way. After all the praying and crying and waiting and crying and praying and screaming and ranting (did I mention crying and praying?), He finally showed me what I was meant to do in life, gave me a glimpse of what my quilt looks like when all the pieces are put together properly. All the unrelated jobs, all the insane life experiences, all the ten zillion emotions and fantastical dreams, they fit together perfectly in the life of a writer. I wasn't just born to be a dreamer. Or a rebel. Or a misfit. I was born to be something else. A writer. I was born to be a writer. It's my "sweet spot" in life.
As if it could get any better, there's even a cherry on top of my story. Several in fact. They're called readers. And they make my storytelling more worthwhile that I can say. Every time someone e-mails me or posts a comment somewhere telling me how much they love my books, it is more gratifying than I can explain. It's impossibly amazing, truly incredible, this feeling. I never realized how much I wanted to paint a world and characters that people would love until the first person told me that I'd done exactly that. But I do want that. So, so much. And with every book, I hope to be able to do that even more adeptly, more effectively than in the book before. After all, practice makes perfect, right?
So, what does all this mean? It means that dreams do come true and that God answers prayers every single day in some way or another. He's still answering mine and the ones He hasn't answered, I have faith that He's working on 'em as we speak. I'm a grizzly after all, and I'll always have my dreams. Every day I get up hoping that everyone who loves my books will tell all their friends and then they'll go buy my books. And then those who love my books will tell all of their friends and then they'll go buy my books. You see the pattern here? What that means to me, though, is not necessarily the wealth that you can measure by looking at numbers on a bank statement. It's the kind of wealth that means I can continue to write, the kind that sends me to bed with a smile on my face, anxious for more dreams and a new day in which to craft a story. To me, it means that the last job on my resume will be "Author" and that I get to live one more day in my "sweet spot." And trust me, every day you get to spend there is a good one.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to every single, solitary person who has bought a book of mine, or two or three. I pray that you'll soon have a story to tell, one about how your dreams came true, too.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website here www.mleightonbooks.com