January. The month that everyone makes their resolutions and promises to make big changes. Gyms become more crowded, weight loss apps are downloaded, less alcohol is consumed (at least for the first couple of weeks), and savings plans are established. I myself try to use January as a time of reflection; a time to examine and applaud the progress I’ve made on my bucket list. I also use it as a time to devise a plan of attack to try and reach the goals I haven’t yet obtained.
The first item on my bucket list, and the most important one that I decided to reflect upon this year is two parts: 1. publish a novel and 2. have a writing career. I’ve always loved writing, even when I could barely put words on a piece of paper. I was six years old when I wrote my first book called Go Go Go. It features a stick-figure, curly haired heroine walking up and down a house. But she must have felt reckless, because she also walked up and down a flower, which was two times her size. This flower must have been from some mythical land to be so ginormous and withstand the weight of a child, but I digress. To complete this epic story, I made sure it had impressive illustrations created by non-other than Baby Diane (see below). Ever since then, I was hooked on writing. I wrote a sequel to the book, Go Up the Mountain, and even took a stab at writing chapter books.
I distinctly remember the moment I decided to become a writer. I don’t remember much from my childhood, but I can clearly recall this decision. It was 6th grade; I had just finished writing a story for a couple hours and was on a writing high. I stared at myself in the mirror of my childhood bathroom and vowed that I would work very hard to do whatever it took to become a writer. I wrote this moment down in my journal and started on my next book, The Danger of Wishing. After that, I won a number of writing contests and even won multiple scholarships for college from essays I wrote.
Naturally, like any lifelong goal, mine has been a road full of winding paths that you aren’t sure where they are leading. In high school, my time performing music started to surpass my time writing. Not to toot my own horn, but I was pretty good at the French horn, and my writing skills, well let’s just say they were nothing to write home about. After a search of majors, I decided to major in arts/music management with a concentration in horn performance. If that wasn’t enough, I had a minor in business and piano. This would allow me to someday manage an orchestra but also still keep up on my music skills. As you can see, none of that mentions writing.
College was a whirlwind. Because of my decision, all of my time was devoted to reading about music history, writing 20+ pages of papers about dead music composers, and performing my horn 10+ hours a day. I didn’t have time to engage in creative writing or more or less breathe. My path continued towards playing the horn and working in a management position at an orchestra. This led me to my internship at a major orchestra and my first job at another major orchestra in their education department.
My first big blow to my career happened at the tender age of 23. I had been working at a major orchestra for nine months when I was laid off. It wasn’t just me, there were 12 of us. It was front page of the newspaper. Little did I know but that lay-off would start me on a whole different career trajectory. The year was 2009, and everyone and their brother was looking for a job. I finally landed a job two months later as an executive assistant at a museum. It was a long shot from my dream job, but it paid the bills. While I was there the grant writer quit (who had also been the past executive assistant), and I was asked to fill in writing grants until someone new was hired. This task was challenging, but it made me start writing again. I found that grant writing was a bit like a puzzle. You had to be creative in figuring out what the funder would want to hear about your program/organization while being succinct in a limited space. I was so much intrigued by this new opportunity that I decided to try my hand at it full-time.
Thus, my career as a writer began. It wasn’t what I expected as a child, but I am now writing every single day at my job, and it’s pretty interesting. I’m also raising a lot of money to help feed, clothe, and provide many other amazing programs and services for people in need. Not only am I writing in my day job, I now have begun to write more too in my free time and even had a piece published on HelloGiggles. In addition, I began to write my first women’s fiction manuscript, which I completed last year. Now I’m working on writing my newest manuscript, a young adult novel.
After I finished my first manuscript, I taught myself the publishing process with the help from some published authors. I had no idea that it really would be such a process. I began to query agents and the rejection letters started pouring in; I had no luck. Naturally, I felt discouraged and attended a writer’s workshop for some advice. It was there I learned I need to create a social media presence including a blog and a solid fan base to flaunt to an agent. WHAT!? If anyone knows me, I loathe social media and talking about myself. But after contemplating my options long and hard, I decided to go all in. And that’s why this blog was developed. My blog is a place to gain a reader base, and a place to showcase some of my upcoming writing projects and ideas.
As I reflect on my childhood dream this January, my writing career path isn’t at all what child Diane would have expected, but I believe I’ve made great progress and hope I can publish one of my manuscripts in the near future! Thanks for reading my blog and happy 2019!