Hello, dear readers, and welcome!
In December, I wrote a post about how I was journeying from self-publishing to querying, and about part of my journey as a young writer. Some time has passed since then, and I'm ready to add a second piece to this story as I participate in Purple Day.
Purple Day is an international day for Epilepsy awareness. I actually had no idea it existed until recently, but am extremely glad that I found out about it. Epilepsy is a disorder with a lot of stigma, and there is plenty to learn about it and the wonderful fighters who have it. For more information, and links to other sites about Epilepsy, you can visit: http://www.purpleday.org
So, this post will be a little bit about writing, and a little bit about Epilepsy, two things that impact my life constantly.
You may recall from my previous post on being a young writer that I was looking at querying agents again, and trying out for traditional publishing once more. I received plenty of negative comments about this (on another site), ranging from I didn't know what I was doing to I was being foolish, but I also received plenty of uplifting comments, too, and some people wrote that I inspired them; I cannot say how great a feeling that is, to know that I have inspired someone to keep moving forward towards their dreams, whatever they may be. I feel that these comments are reflected when I mention my medical issues to anyone: some people feel pity or misunderstand, and some people look at me and say "you've overcome a lot", or "you're a very strong person". Now that I think about it, I hear that concerning my own writing and publishing journey, too, though it is sometimes hard for me to believe it.
I have gone far, yes, and I've mentioned this before -- but I still have so much further that I want to go; we all do. But I learned something recently that really helped to open my eyes: we cannot control time, but we can control what we do, and through that we can do the best that we can, and allow fate to take its course.
It sounds simple, but it's true; I'm sure I've thought or said this before, but it finally clicked. We can only do our best, and we should be happy in doing that, because then we are being the best people we can be. My best may not look like yours, but so long as I am trying my best, I know that I am doing all that I can, and that is a beautiful thing. By doing my best, I have helped to inspire others to do theirs, and I am eternally grateful for that opportunity.
Back in December, I started sending out queries for my giant project containing vampire (because I love them), the first book still dubbed Midnight. I spent a mass amount of time researching agents, agencies, and publishing in general, where I brushed up on info I had looked at some time ago, and in the following months I received e-mails back. In those e-mails were words of encouragement, though no bites so far as representation. Then at the end of February I went to a writer's conference (my first!), and received even more good info, encouragement, and some tips. I cannot thank the people who have encouraged me all these years enough, starting with my family and friends, and extending to other writers. We never know what our words will do to somebody, so I think it's very important to remain kind with them, so that when we speak to others, we can hope to encourage them as these lovely people have encouraged me.
At the end of the conference, one thing was clear: I needed to do another re-write. This was advice given to me from a fellow author and an agent, to explore the idea some more, and rewrite what I had; the advice was reflected by countless others over several days, all without knowledge of what I had been told, and I recognized the signs. At first I struggled with the idea, and battled against it, but eventually I realized that they were right: I needed to take my baby down from the shelf, and re-examine what was special about him.
Shortly before this, and even afterwards up until now, I had to do the same thing with myself.
I have battled Epilepsy as long as I can remember, and it wasn't until recently that I felt at all comfortable with speaking about it, even a little bit. I grew up feeling very alone and strange, because I only knew one other person -- who I didn't meet until I was nearly 20 -- who had Epilepsy, and he has a different type than I do, unfortunately having to carry around a lunch pail full of pills to take each day; I am very proud of him, though, because he lives life with a giant grin on his face that I know is real. As a child, there were plenty of days where I had to spend most of my time in the infirmary at school; as a teen, I was coping with a recent car accident that had caused head trauma, and even more issues than before; as an adult, I struggle with worsening symptoms, and how to work and function despite them. But a few months ago, at a peak of loneliness, I was blessed by meeting several people, all at once, who struggled with some of the same issues I do, and suddenly I did not feel so very alone. In truth, we are never alone: there is always family, old friends, new friends waiting to be had, all who will help, support, work to understand, and love us -- and if you believe, there is God, too.
When I decided to rewrite Midnight, I understood that it would take a while, and that my dreams would not be fulfilled overnight; they never are, despite what the movies make you think, but then we appreciate them more if they take time. Living with Epilepsy isn't easy, and working with it isn't easy, though I am determined, and know that I can accomplish my goals -- maybe not in the time I want, but in the time that I need.
If there is one thing I have discovered, it is that good things really do take time. There are plenty of days where I honestly can't do much, and often it's extremely hard to even function, but I push on. I have learned to understand that doing my best is really all that is required, and that I should be proud of my best. Learning to judge how much I am capable of in a given day does not mean that I am not capable, but that I am smart when it comes to my health. I love the days that I can write for hours upon hours, can work for a long period of time, but they aren't many...and now I see that by learning to take things more slowly, to do what is best for my health, I have uncovered better ideas, and more appreciation for the world around me, the people in it; I feel like I gain more insight. By working more slowly, I somehow see things more quickly. And I believe that everyone needs a chance to slow down, to really soak life in.
For me, looking into the mirror and being able to say "I have Epilepsy" was hugely helpful, because it connected me to other wonderful people around the world who struggle with the same thing. It's difficult to admit that there's something "wrong" with you -- but I've come to see that there isn't anything "wrong" at all, merely that there's an obstacle to overcome, and we all have obstacles, every one of us, no matter what shape they come in, or how they manifest. We can all be successful, can all do our best, can all enjoy life, if we're willing to accept and love ourselves, and be determined.
Maybe it isn't exactly how I pictured it, but I am grateful for how far I've come so far. It's always been my dream to become a published writer, one connected to a big house, and that dream hasn't gone away -- and neither has my love for self-publishing, or my want to publish more. I love to tell stories, to experience them, to see the world in new ways. It's not easy, meshing my Epilepsy with writing and business; part of the reason I would like to have a team backing me is because it's difficult to manage it all myself, when I only have so much time to work in, though I'm under no delusions it will be easy, or that all of the burdens will be lifted, or that it will even be the right fit. But I have already seen that I can accomplish things, and reach dreams, and this is just the beginning: I have books published; I have reviews; and most importantly, I have readers who enjoy my work, and I enjoy writing and delving into my words and worlds. I am still reaching further towards my dreams, the biggest one of which is writing some amazing stories, but I am grateful for all that I have done so far, and the wonderful life that I have been given.
But most of all: I am determined.