My dreams as an author evolved over time.
When I was young and barely discovering my talents, I was very private about my writings. I only ever shared them with my sister because I trusted her opinion and I knew she shared my interest in fantasy. I knew I wanted to get better, though. I soaked up every piece of young adult fiction that engaged me, wishing to learn from successful authors. Of course, being published doesn’t make an author great or successful, and this I discovered from the mediocre books I stumbled upon in my search for knowledge. My teachers were J.K. Rowling, Sarah Dessen, Christopher Paolini, Cassandra Clare, Suzanne Collins, Patrick Ness, Brandon Sanderson, Kelley Armstrong, Rick Riordan, Kristen Cashore, and Marissa Rice. These were the authors who made me laugh and cry, made me fall in love with their characters, made me want to live in the worlds they created, made me believe that good always triumphed over evil in the end, made me anticipate long journeys and challenges because I knew I would be a better person after enduring them.
Without these authors and their stories, my writing wouldn’t be what it is today. And I realized something; I wanted to inspire and teach others too. I wanted to make other young people or young writers feel and believe what all these authors made me feel and believe. I wanted to reach as many people as I could and be able to live off of my writing if possible. In order to do that, I had to have a certain level of popularity. That scared me (still scares me if I think about it too much, to be honest.)
I’ve never been popular, not even a little. I had a small group of friends in elementary school, but those relationships didn’t last past my transfer to private school. My sister and her friends became my crowd throughout Jr. High. I couldn’t stand the drama, the gossip, and the incessant boy-talk of the other girls my age. I had acquaintances in high school, but nobody I would want to spend my weekends with. My older brother and sister let me tag along with them to a young adults Bible group in the next town over. The people in that group were my true friends, people I looked forward to seeing and hanging out with. But with time they all began to get married or move away or get jobs with taxing schedules that kept them away from our weekly meetings. And then I moved to Phoenix, Arizona, having developed none of the social skills necessary to make friends with ease. It took me a few years to fall in with the crowd I hang out with today, and even that crowd is small.
So I shied away from writing for others, and went with the more “practical” career choice. Still, the need for improvement has never dwindled. I’ve continued to work on my stories through the years, to the point where I live and breathe their words. And now I’m back to pursuing that full-time-inspiring-author goal. I’m facing this giant word again: popularity. AKA fame.
To me, to be famous means people follow you on social media and comment on everything you say. It means people know your opinions on life and love and politics and the Holy Ghost. It means reporters want to buy off your friends to find out juicy facts about you. It means strangers know where you’re going to spend Christmas, what stores you like to shop at, what you wore to that date with your husband last Friday, whether your kid is good in school or not. It means nothing is secret anymore, nothing is sacred. Maybe I’m exaggerating. I mean, there have been examples of famous people who managed to keep their personal lives personal. I never see Daniel Day-Lewis or Brandon Sanderson or Relient K on the front cover of a gossip magazine, but I have to wonder how much work it takes to be anonymous in a world where information is as important as air.
Just the thought of balancing being known with keeping certain things private is making me want to crawl under the covers and never come out. But I need people to read my work if I want to inspire them. I need people to buy my books if I want to be a full-time author and still help my husband provide for our family. I need to be known if people are going to support me. So I’ll be needing to call Daniel Day-Lewis sometime and ask him how he keeps the media away. I’ll be needing to find some coping mechanism if/when fans start knocking on my door. I’ll rehearse what I’m going to say before every interview so that my words won’t be used against me or my family. I’ll have to be willing to do whatever it takes if I’m to continue. And I must continue. I don’t think I would be able to live with myself if I gave up on my dream again.