This month on Quills and Inkblotts, we are thanking the people in our lives that make our writing dream a possibility. As expected as it is to say “I want to thank my husband”, I just have to say: I want to thank my husband. Without him, I would never have shared my stories with anyone but my hard drive. I don’t want to just thank him for allowing me to write, I want to thank him for giving me the courage to pursue this dream in the first place.
I always used reading and writing as a coping strategy. Growing up, losing myself in a good book was the best way to escape when life got overwhelming. My high school journals are filled with poems and stories and entries about fighting with parents, painful breakups, you name it.
In college, whenever I felt like procrastinating on a paper for my abnormal psychology class, I would jot down story ideas and research plot points. It felt compulsive, like my mind just created stories as a reaction to avoiding something unpleasant. Those notes forever sat in an isolated folder hidden deep within the bowels of my laptop, never to see the light of day.
After the birth of my second child, I found myself battling with the vice-like grip of post-partum depression. I had survived a particularly nasty case after my first child, and I knew I wanted to fight it this time with writing. Those dark mornings at 3am when I had a newborn asleep on my chest and was too afraid to fall asleep myself, I would pull out google docs on my phone and just write. I had already been working on a story and had several chapters finished, when I ran across an ad for a local writing conference only ten minutes from where I lived. I scoffed. No way I could ever get up the courage to show my story to other people, plus I was nursing a newborn… the excuses piled up.
Until I mentioned the conference to my husband.
He immediately encouraged me to go. As I threw excuse after excuse at him, he shot them down faster.
“Go,” he told me. “You are such an amazing writer. You need to chase this dream.” He practically shoved me out the door.
So I reluctantly packed up my laptop and my breastpump and drove the ten minutes to the conference. I texted him every fifteen minutes to check on the baby (he was always fine) and had to leave every two hours to pump in a bathroom stall while people probably wondered “what the heck is she doing in there”, but I did it. I went.
And what I discovered changed the course of my life.
I found people… like me. I found people that dreamed up stories and had the courage to share them with other people! I remember the first time I sat down for an appointment with another author and explained my story idea to her, fully expecting her to laugh me out of the room and call me out for the pathetic wannabe I knew I was.
Instead, she loved it! Kernels of hope blossomed inside of me as I realized the possibility of people actually enjoying what I wrote.
I slowly started to learn about the business and how the publishing industry worked. I almost gave up right there.
I came home from the conference that first day and told my husband everything it took to get published, how I could never do it.
My loving husband looked me right in the eye and told me “yes you can!” So instead of giving up, I kept going. After every rejection, every setback, my husband was right there to remind me of every success. He never stopped believing in me. He watched the kids so I could go to meetings with critique partners, take time for myself to write in a coffee shop, or attend more workshops and conferences. He celebrated with me when I finished that first manuscript.
This last week, I received a contract offer from one of the biggest literary agencies in the nation. I signed that contract with tears in my eyes and turned to look at my husband.
The first words out of his mouth were “I told you! I never doubted you for a minute!”
So babe, thank you. Thank you for kicking me out the door to that first writing conference. Thank you for texting me updates about the kids and assuring me that you supported my dream. Thank you for never letting me give up every time I wrestled with rejection and self-doubt.
But most of all, thank you for always believing in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself.
My mother always told me that a man should be the setting that allows the diamond to shine. I love you so much and know I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without you!