Not every writer is going to find an agent or publication; that’s just the way the industry works. Yesterday’s post by my guest blogger reaffirmed something I came to believe many months ago: agents are important (and they’re wonderful people), but I think all writers should place as much value on a cheerleader as they do in finding an agent. When I get there, and my first book hits the shelves, it will be in large part due to the constant support, feedback, humour, and love I receive from my cheerleader. I will, of course, thank my agent (and my family), but to be honest, my cheerleader will be the one who deserves the ticker tape parade.
You will have read how seriously she takes her duties as a cheerleader. When we started this journey together, neither of us knew where it was going. I heard about NaNoWriMo from a friend and decided, “Hey, that sounds like fun. I wonder if I could do that…” Taking the first step on the NaNoWriMo road rekindled a love of writing I honestly forgot I had.
Seriously, I completely forgot that I once dreamed of becoming an author. It wasn’t until my husband unpacked a box of books from the garage that foggy images of that time of my life re-emerged. I have no idea why I blocked that dream so thoroughly, but as I sifted through the stack of writing books he gently placed in my lap, the memories returned.
I don’t regret not following my dream back then. I am a firm believer that things happen at certain times for a reason. Looking at my life as it sits right now, I can say that I am in a much better position to add “writer” as a second career now than I was sixteen years ago. Maybe if I’d persevered with my writing back then I’d have an agent by now. Maybe. Or maybe I’d still be struggling because I hadn’t lived the life I needed to live to give me the experiences that flavour the writing I do now. Maybe. Maybe not.
It’s funny – the more I think back to those younger years, the further back my love affair with writing seems to stretch. Finding the old books (still in lovingly cared for condition) brought back memories of wanting to be an author of high-fantasy. Thinking about those years also triggered the realization that any time I could submit a “creative” essay for one of my university English assignments, I did. I remember writing the Wife of Bath’s second tale (the narrator in the Canterbury Tales states that each pilgrim told two tales, but only one was ever recorded) for one course, and a mystery play about Adam and Eve for another.
If these fragile wisps of memory weren’t enough, when I told my mother about my NaNoWriMo novel, she replied, “Well, you always did want to be a writer. I’m glad you’re finally pursuing your dream.” I was stunned. I thought my mom would see my writing as something out of left field because, in my mind, this was the first time I had considered it. But as soon as she replied, it was like the floodgates on my memories were opened and a torrent of jumbled images came pouring out. I remember writing novels in grade one. Yes, I wrote novels when I was six. They were mostly about my best friend and I (and occasionally my teacher because she was really cool and always commented on my stories and taught me how to write “To Be Cont’d” correctly at the bottom of the page where I stopped each day) and our encounters with various aliens and monsters. My fictional me had a number of glorious adventures and quite the series of novels.
You may be wondering what this post has to do with cheerleading. After all, it seems more like a stroll down memory lane than a commentary on yesterday’s blog, but I can assure you I do have a point. I have (apparently) always carried a deep love of writing in my soul, and while many people (friends, family, teachers) encouraged me, for some reason I never thought of it as a viable career option (I was very goal-oriented in my youth). I don’t think it is a coincidence that I have found the most amazing cheerleader at the same point in my life where I am rediscovering my passion for writing.
Call it fate, karma, Kismet, or hooey – I believe this is the time that is right for me in my life’s journey to pursue a career in writing. And you know what? I’m going to be successful too. How do I know this? Well, the passion (and arguably some measure of skill or I wouldn’t have passed those English courses) has always been in me, and in addition to being goal-oriented, I am outrageously stubborn. Sheer determination will go a long way toward becoming a published author. That book’s not good enough? All right. Let me go back, hone my craft, and try again. And again. And again.
But the most important piece of evidence I can offer as proof for my ultimate success is yesterday’s blog post. How could anyone fail to succeed with a cheerleader like I’ve been fortunate enough to find? Really. Go back and read her words.
I didn’t set out to find a cheerleader, just as she didn’t set out to become one, but somehow we’ve managed to come together and I am so thankful that she is willing to share this journey with me. Let’s be honest. I’ve only been seriously chasing this dream for five months – I look at what I owe her for everything she’s done in such a short time, I cannot even begin to fathom the depth of my gratitude and appreciation years from now (when I am a NYT bestselling author and she’s supplementing her retirement income by selling autographed napkins on eBay – sorry, that’s a bit of an in-joke, but my cheerleader is awesome and deserves a laugh even if the rest of you have no clue what I’m talking about).
If you have a cheerleader, you are an incredibly blessed writer. Agents are grand, but a cheerleader is priceless. Find one. Today.
From beyond the keyboard,