By Jackie Ashenden
I suppose I should start this post by saying I’ve always wanted to be a writer. And it’s true, I have. Since I was about twelve years old, when I started writing what was essentially The Lord of the Rings but with a heroine instead of a hobbit and lots more unicorns. Fast forward another four years and I decided fantasy was far too ‘low-brow’ for me, I was going to write The Great Literary Novel – yes, the Pulitzer would be mine!
Then reality kicked in. Who made a living being a writer? No one I knew. And who from New Zealand ever got published by international publishing houses? Who was even published outside New Zealand? No one. Again, no one I knew.
So I stopped dreaming of winning the Pulitzer, or even writing the next Lord of the Rings. I went to university and became a librarian; decided that would be my career instead. I traveled. Met the man who was to be my husband, had two lovely children. I lived my life. But in all that time, I didn’t stop writing. I physically couldn’t. But I didn’t write fantasy or literary fiction, I wrote about love because romances were the only stories I ever finished, the only stories I ever felt passionate about. And I never told anyone because I thought people would think it was silly, this woman writing love stories at night.
Then life issued me with another reality check: I lost a family member. And as these things do, I started to think some things through about life, specifically why I’d put my childhood dream of being a writer aside. I didn’t have any answer to that, at least not a good one, and all I kept thinking about was that old saying about what regrets you had on your deathbed. I was coming up to forty and the one thing I’d wanted to do, since I was twelve I’d put aside because I thought it wasn’t realistic. That I wouldn’t be able to do it.
So I decided that this was my wake-up call. I decided I was going to try and get published with my love stories. See if I could actually be what I’d always dreamed – a published author.
It took me five years of dogged, stubborn, bloody-minded persistence. I wanted to be published by forty. I wasn’t. But I kept going and I kept writing. It was hard and depressing and I nearly gave up many, many times.
But just before my 41st birthday I finally got the magic email, saying a publisher wanted to buy my book. And I cried because that was the moment I’d been waiting for since I was twelve years old.
Achieving your dream is one thing though, what comes after it can be even harder. Writing is a difficult thing to balance with a family. With a husband who works hard and having kids who also demand attention. Mother guilt gets a lot of play, especially when you have massive deadlines to meet and the only way to meet them is to sit your kids in front of the TV so you can write.
But I figure that going for your dreams and never giving up, even when it gets really hard, is a pretty good message for my kids to learn, and if they have to watch a bit of TV while I do my job, it’s not going to kill them. And hey, I don’t hear them complaining. 🙂
I reckon it’s a good message for everyone, especially for imperfect women such as ourselves. It’s never too late to go after your dreams, no matter what age you are. It won’t be easy, dreams worth having are never easy, but take it from me, it’ll be all the sweeter when you get there.
About the Author:
Jackie has been writing fiction since she was eleven years old. Mild mannered fantasy/SF/pseudo-literary writer by day, obsessive romance writer by night, she used to balance her writing with the more serious job of librarianship until a chance meeting with another romance writer prompted her to throw off the shackles of her day job and devote herself to the true love of her heart – writing romance. She particularly likes to write dark, emotional stories with alpha heroes who’ve just got the world to their liking only to have it blown wide apart by their kick-ass heroines.
She lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband, the inimitable Dr Jax, two kids, two cats and some guppies (possibly dead guppies by the time you read this). When she’s not torturing alpha males and their stroppy heroines, she can be found drinking chocolate martinis, reading anything she can lay her hands on, posting random crap on her blog, or being forced to go mountain biking with her husband.
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Make sure you check out Jackie’s latest release: Talking Dirty with the Boss
Photo courtesy of Photgen