No One Said it Would be Easy

I won the Young Author’s Award for my school in the third grade and received the privilege to hear a real author speak to a group of aspiring writers in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana. It was then that I knew I wanted to be an author. When adults asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, “I want to be a teacher and an author.”

If you know me, you know I fulfilled my first aspiration of being a teacher. I retired in 2018 after teaching physical education to elementary-aged children for thirty years in a small town in North Georgia. Naïvely, I believed I would retire from teaching and write books, thus fulfilling both my childhood dreams. I’m learning there is a tad more to writing than writing.

Teaching for thirty years no more qualified me to be a writer than an eye surgeon or a lawyer. I am embarrassed to tell you I didn’t know writing would take me (or anyone else) a good ten to twenty years to learn and develop that skill. I also did not know being an author means one must become an expert in technology, editing, publishing, and marketing. While I’m divulging my naivety, I may as well tell you I honestly did not know until halfway through my senior year in high school that to teach physical education, I would need “one of those four-year degrees.” Because I was naïve as a child and still am as an adult; it never offended me when students asked me if I “ever wanted to be a real teacher.”

I pray I have not offended anyone in the writing profession by not knowing the magnitude of this new career upon which I have embarked. Please know, I do not take the writing profession lightly. I have the utmost respect for writers and everyone in the field who makes it possible for people like me to get published. The people I have met in this world of writing are a unique lot. Some are household names. Some make a living. Others have written multiple books or written blogs for years without earning the equivalent of a cup of coffee. I have learned from all of them. Writers write for the joy of it. The one mantra I have heard from every one of them is, “Don’t do it if you don’t enjoy it. It’s too hard and too uncertain of a field to get into if you don’t love the process.”

For now, I will tell you I am willing to be bad at writing to become good at the craft. I’m new. I will make mistakes. Malcomb Gladwell tells us in Outliers that we need to put in our time when we start something new. Ten thousand hours, he suggests. Historically, I take twice as long as my peers to accomplish the same task, which means by my calculations, if I put in 20-30 hours a week, I should be a mediocre writer by my 107th birthday. If you want to wait until my 107th birthday to tell people you follow me, I will still invite you to my birthday party, but if you would invite others to come along, oh the stories we will have to share. Won’t it be a joyful celebration? What are you willing to be bad at before you become good? Please comment below.