Failure? Or Just Bad Timing?

June 13, 2021

No one likes to admit they failed, not at anything. But we all do it. Mistakes are how we learn, right? (See? That’s me being a glass-half-full kinda gal).

But that’s not how I saw it about thirty years ago (yikes!) when I first tried to become a “real” author.

I was around twenty-seven at the time. I’d been in my position as a software engineer for a whopping six years (eternity!) and while it paid the bills, it wasn’t exactly my dream job. My dream job was – you guessed it – being an author.

Writing was something I’d always done, but it’d been a long time since I’d shared my stories with anyone, not since that one horrible, humiliating time in the fifth grade… but that’s a completely different story.

So anyway, I decided to try my hand at writing. It was a sweet romance, probably what would now be labeled as “new adult.” I wrote during whatever free time I had – breaks, lunch, evenings, weekends. I have no idea how many words it ended up being; Word didn’t exist then. Hell, Windows didn’t exist then. Printed out, it was about 2 inches thick.

I let my family and a few close friends read the story.  They were supportive, if not gushing, and offered me free critiques and edits.  That was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done – sharing my soul through my story. 

But I was an adult, right?  More mature and all that. Surely my skills – honed by reading hundreds, if not thousands of books – had improved since the last time I’d tried to share one of my stories (5th grade!)  Still, revealing that part of me left me feeling more exposed than if I had stripped and wandered onto the busy highway with nothing but a smile.

At the same time, I was ecstatic.  Thrilled to be fulfilling a personal dream of becoming a writer, I invested in some writers magazines and submitted my first-ever manuscript to potential publishing agents with lots of hope and optimism.  To keep me sane while I anxiously waited for replies, certainI was going to realize the dream, I started penning (okay, typing) my second story.

I think you can see where this is going. Inevitably, the rejections came, and with each, my confidence plummeted further.  I put the printed copies of my manuscript away along with my dreams. Convinced no one would ever want to read my stories but me, I stopped writing for a long time. What was the point?

But I missed it. So much.

Three kids, a new house, eleven acres, and shitty economy later, I found myself laid off from my white collar professional job and working in a small town pub and restaurant, and my inner muse resurfaced, probably a self-defense mechanism to keep me sane. I started writing again, in secret of course. I had to. I couldn’t not write. It didn’t matter that no one else would ever see my stories. I was writing for me. 

Plot twist: I was re-hired by my company after they figured out that outsourcing wasn’t all they’d hoped for, and I ended up working in the corporate world another 10+ years. My job paid the bills, but I was miserable. In fact, for a time, my system password was Ihatemyf*ckingjob!

Seriously. That was always fun to share with tech support 😀

All the while, I continued to write in secret. It was my guilty pleasure.

Fast-forward to 2014. My software company was bought out and with almost 30 years under my belt, I was offered an amazing severance package. Self-publishing was a thing by that time – a gorgeous, beautiful, awesome thing – and I started having those pesky hopeful thoughts again. It seemed like there would never be a better opportunity to try again, but whether or not I should was the question.

Well, I think you can guess how I answered that question. Now, almost 7 years later, I can’t imagine doing anything else. And now that I’m older and so much wiser, I have to think, maybe I didn’t really fail. Maybe it didn’t work out earlier because it just wasn’t the right time. I had other stuff I had to do first.

Since becoming a full time author, I haven’t looked back. I can honestly say I have never regretted taking that chance. I have been extremely lucky, and I know it. Is it easy? Hell no. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t doubt myself or have severe attacks of “imposter syndrome.”

But you know what? Writing is still my dream job, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.