I’ve always loved writing. I was the kid who got in trouble for not paying attention in third grade because I was busy outlining a story idea. I loved the characters that spoke to me, and I loved putting down what they had to say. And as with most any writer, I grew up dreaming of a day I would see my book in a bookstore. One day, in college, I browsed the ‘how to get published’ section of my local bookstore. I sat down with a stack of books. And I read that trying to get published is about as easy as wrangling 15 koala bears into 15 car seats.
It’s hard. It’s really hard.
So I put the books away. I put my stories away. And I stopped writing.
Years passed, I tiptoed back into writing, blogging, and even wrote about how much I wanted to venture back into novel writing. I wrote a lot about wanting to write. I talked a lot about wanting to write. [Friends, family, and book store employees can attest to that] But I was still too scared to actually, you know, do it, knowing how many obstacles to the ultimate dream lay in the way.
And then one day, I spoke with a friend. We had the age-old conversation of what it is we dreamed of for our lives. I told him I wanted to hike the Napali coast, eat pizza in Italy, and then mumbled almost under my breath that I wanted to write novels. When he asked why I didn’t pursue this, I shrugged. I explained to him the market. I explained how much harder it had gotten.
And he said: imagine yourself near the end of your life, rocking out on your front porch and reflecting back. Are you going to be glad your book is not published because the market is hard so you didn’t try? Or are you going to be glad that you wrote a book you’re proud of and that while it didn’t get published, at least you know you tried?
Those words took me back to when I applied for my Equal Justice Works fellowship. I applied late in the game and the competition in a declining legal market was tough. I spoke to an adviser about these challenges. Her response: Well, you’re not guaranteed to get it even if you try, but you are guaranteed to NOT get it if you don’t try.
So I bottled up these lessons. I started to write. And in writing my novel I learned how much of writing is about the love of writing. The pure love of seeing words take the shape of countries and cities and people and love. And it wasn’t always easy- sometimes it was boring- but I wrote through it all. I wrote my heart out.
And long story short? The dream I had as a kid, came true.
So what does my story mean to you?
It means low odds are still odds. It means that if you want to do something with all your heart and soul, the chances it won’t work out, are not a reason to not try.
And in the spirit of my friend who gave me the advice that spurred my writing so many years ago, ask yourself: At the end of your life, what is you will regret not having done? Having tried? What is your dream? Deep sea diving? Writing a screenplay? Running a marathon?
What is the thing you want most?
Know that the ultimate destination may not happen. But know that it might. And know that the journey is ultimately the point, and a journey in pursuit of what you love is a journey never wasted.
And then? Go do it.