There are moments in a writer's life they will never forget. The first "ahhh" story. The first rejection letter. The first acceptance email of your first story the world will see from you. Even the first call from an agent saying they'd like to represent you. But when you take time to think about it, those aren't really the "firsts" after all...
My first "ahhh" story was "Oh No Moe". A little picture book I envisioned and received favorable comments from established professionals in the writing industry. But that wasn't my true "first". How can I forget about all the many days, nights, even months spent at this computer pouring over yet another story? Buffing, polishing, shining until the best of me comes through. Those are the "firsts" I need to remember for without them, "Oh No Moe" would never have been born.
Before that story was a little gem I called Super Duper Dog. I thought I had a hit. I thought I had the magic formula to a great picture book story. And so I sent it off with a kiss to a publishing house accepting submissions. And never heard a thing. I mean crickets were screaming in the silence surrounding my query, for God's sake. I was working blindfolded and never even knew it.
How I managed to stumble into this amazing writing community I'll never know. Maybe it was my participating in Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo. Maybe it was being mentored and encouraged by great children's book authors like Suzanna Leonard Hill and others. Maybe it was joining the writers hanging out with Julie Hedlund's 12 X 12 in 2012. Or maybe it was the critiquing I received from Miranda Paul's Rate Your Story. Whatever the trigger was, I felt a light bulb come on. Someone took the blindfold off and I could see my stories clearly. All the bumps, bruises, and ugly scars I needed to deal with in order to become a better writer.
Was it scary? Of course. Did I doubt myself and the dreams I hold close to my heart? You betcha. But did I ultimately jump in with both feet and submerge myself in a sea of words...beautiful, tantalizing, mesmerizing, frustrating words that have the ability to drive me crazy at times? Heck, yeah. Because when it's all said and done, just what are we writers so worried about?
With billions of people living on this great blue marble, the chances that EVERYONE is going to like our stories is almost nil. But what I DO know is that there will be someone out there who will one day open an email from me, or tear open a letter, or smile at me from across the table at a writer's conference and THEY will be mesmerized by my story. And all those moments of working blindfold will have been worth it.