As a kid, I grew up in a small town in Ohio and have lived there my entire life. Like many would assume from someone living in a small town, there is not much to do. One of the things I found I enjoyed to do in my free time was read. My mother always stressed the importance of reading to my siblings and I, so it became something I held and still do hold very near and dear to my heart. With my love of reading and transporting myself into a fictional world, I soon after discovered my love of writing. I quickly realized I wanted to be a writer and use words to impact people the way so many authors and books have impacted myself and my friends. It took a lot of courage, unfinished projects, late nights, and every writer's worst nightmare (I am of course talking about writer's block), but I finally got to a point where I finished writing my first novel.
After the advice of a friend and months of contemplating and trying to talk myself out of doing it, I self-published a novel and launched a book series that would take up the remaining years of my high school experience. While writing and publishing this series, I faced many trials and triumphs, but there are five that have really stuck with me and helped me grow as a person.
1. There will always be someone who doubts your abilities, and that's OK.
It was no secret to the people in my town and school that I wanted to be a writer. Of course, there were those who were super supportive, but there were also those who were not. Those who weren't thought it was not a practical career choice and saw it as something I should just stick to keeping as a hobby. Instead of accepting they were right and selecting a different career that would please them, I decided to use their doubt as a means to push myself harder and prove to not only them, but to myself that they were wrong. It took hard work and courage, but in the end, it gave me something to be proud of accomplishing and showed the people who doubted me that I was serious about my writing and it was much more than a hobby to me.
2. You will unintentionally mold your characters around people you know.
One of the most frequently asked questions you will get is, "Did you base your characters off of anyone?" My immediate reaction is an eye roll and to tell them I did not base it off anyone, but that I came up with the character entirely on my own. That, of course, is not true. Subconsciously I end up giving traits and quirks to my characters that some of my friends have, and I often don't even realize I did it until after it is written or someone has pointed it out to me.
3. You will get attached to the characters and world you create.
When you build your own world and characters, you will start to become attached to the characters and those living in the story. Even when I wasn't writing, I became obsessed and was constantly thinking about the things my characters would do. Whenever a certain situation would happen I would always think of how my characters would react to it and why they would react that way. I fell in love the characters I created and they became a part of me that I will never lose.
4. Your book doesn't have to be a best-seller for it to be successful.
This was something I struggled with a lot and finally came to terms with just recently. I put a lot of money, time, and hard work into this series and it did not do well. Besides family, friends, and a few random strangers, not many people read the series. It was very dissatisfying to me at first and I felt like I was a failure.
I used to think that being a successful writer meant having your books continue to move up The New York Time's Best-Seller List, but I was wrong. Being a successful writer means writing something you care about and are able to be proud of. My goal was to impact people, and although the number was very low, I still had the opportunity to impact at least one person, and in that, I had accomplished what I set out to do.
5. Writing is a constant learning process, it may take you more time than others to find your niche.
I was never entirely sure what exactly I wanted to write or what I was good at. Writing these novels showed me that this was not the writing I was meant to do. My heart wasn't completely in it, and I felt unsure on whether it was right or not. After my sense of failure, I decided to reevaluate and try something different. If it weren't for publishing these novels and them not doing well, I would have stayed within the bounds of my safety net and never tried anything new or different. Instead, I learned my skills may be spread farther and I decided to branch out, and in doing so, I found my calling. I have now realized writing screenplays and making films is what I was meant to do. I am so thankful for the opportunities and lessons I learned from these novels, as cliche as it sounds, they have truly shaped who I am today.