Last Saturday, to much fanfare from my family, I clicked an upload button and published my first short story. Fifteen minutes later, I had my first sale and, somewhat hesitantly, added the moniker of ‘author’ to my Facebook profile.
Hesitation has been the hallmark and stumbling block of my short writing career.
I’ve wanted to write most of my life. Only in the last year and a half – on joining the Hubbard Hall Writer’s Project – did a professional writing career seem like a realistic goal.
Over the year as I’ve sketched and posted, seven-year-old Thing2 has written and sketched with me. He’s filled 5×8 notebooks with trees and robots and star systems. He’s pilfered printer paper to produce his illustrated, staple-bound paperback stories.
The weekend before I published my story, I mentioned his endeavors as I was standing in the living room of a friend and writing mentor and his wife. I had been working on their computers, and my friend was taking the opportunity to harangue me for my hesitation, even enlisting thirteen-year-old Jack to keep me on the hot seat until I hit ‘Publish’.
“I think you’re scared,” said my friend’s wife.
“You’re right,” I said and pointed to Thing2 who was hanging on my friend. “You should see the books he makes,” I said. Thing2 smiled shyly. I thought I was off the hook, but my friend’s wife smiled, apparently knowing her husband would not be so easily distracted. “He’s really talented,” I said.
“And I bet he doesn’t doubt himself,” said my friend.
“No he doesn’t, I admitted.
A week later, we were at Bob’s diner. I was enjoying the glow of seeing my first royalties.
Jack and Thing2 quickly put my accomplishment in perspective as they setup a game of table hockey, complete with salt-and-pepper shaker goal posts and a straw wrapper puck. Fulfilling the requirements of my primary job title, I did the mom thing and barked a reprimand.
Thing2 asked for my notebook, and I gave it to him.
“Are you starting a new story?” I asked. He grinned and nodded, staking out the back 10 pages for illustrations.
“Mommy,” he announced, “I want to write a book just like you when I grow up.”
“You’ll be a great writer,” I said. There wasn’t a shred of doubt in my mind or voice. The Big Guy concurred with the same confidence he expresses when he’s encouraging me.
That’s when it hit me. Thing2 and I have the same dream. I see his innate talent, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have his hills to climb. Each of us will only succeed, however, if we don’t start (or in my case stop) worrying if we have the right stuff and just climb.