Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Very Small Part Of My "Author" Journey...

Good morning! Here's a tiny bit of my story:

Growing up, I had very little self confidence and I doubted my abilities to be successful or live even a mediocre life. I married Conlee really young and we went off to college, both working full-time jobs with all the overtime we were allowed to have and still barely struggling to survive. My life seemed to follow the "less than" mentality I had created for myself. I chose to earn a degree in business administration because I had been working in a bank for a few years and I was "okay" at it. Plus, I wanted a degree I could earn in four years or less and "just be done." 


So, I woke up every morning at 4:30AM, got dressed in clothes that I hated but couldn't afford anything more, drove to work in my car that was nearing fifteen years old, worked for nine hours, went to class for four or five hours depending on the day, and then drove myself home around 10:00PM to do laundry, house work, cook dinner or do anything else that needed to be done before my husband got home at 11:30PM and then hopefully crash into our little, full-size bed by midnight so I could wake up in four and a half hours to do it all over again. It was all "going okay." Until I realized that it wasn't. 

Truth is, not only was it exhausting, but it was very unrewarding. I was barely twenty years old, pregnant and bored. I couldn't imagine living the rest of my life like that, but what else could I possibly do? I was meant for mediocrity, not anything more than that. And no, I'm not saying that working in business is mediocre because it isn't... As a matter of fact, some of the best paying jobs in the United States are in the business field, but I didn't hope to do something like that. No, I just wanted to "get by" in business. I just hoped that I could make $40,000 a year after I graduated with my business degree. Now, that doesn't sound like very much money for a degree holder, so I thought it was a safe number. However, when I finally did graduate with my bachelor's degree, do you know how much money I was making at my first "after-college" job? About $24,000 a year BEFORE taxes, insurance, etc were taken out. But, I'm getting ahead of myself, so let me back up... Anyway, I was in college, barely staying afloat, pregnant, bored and I just realized one day that I didn't think I could make it through life like that. 

I wanted more, all of the sudden. I wanted a change. I wanted to do something amazing that could help the world! I wanted to make a difference. I wanted the financial stability to build a house for my family one day, to travel, to buy new clothes when I needed them or to buy a new car before my old one completely died on me. I wanted to wake up every morning and be excited to start my day and go to bed at night feeling accomplished, needed, proud of myself. 

SIDE NOTE: I met some AMAZING people while working in the bank and some of them will forever remain in my heart.... but I also met some seriously hateful, rude, out-to-get-you, stuck-up, petty, jealous, angry, unhappy, ugly-hearted TROLLS in the business field and I didn't want them to be a part of my life anymore. I wanted a career where no one would be standing over me yip-yapping about how the boss gave me Saturday off and that it wasn't fair because they wanted Saturday off, and blah blah blah blah blah... 

I wanted to be in charge of my own life, set my own schedule, do my own thing, be creative, be my own person, reap the benefits of what I sowed and at the end of the day, just feel that it was all for a purpose. What was that career, though? I had no idea. 

The evening rolled around and I finally went home for the day. I sat down at my kitchen table and started praying that God would guide me to his purpose for my life. About an hour later, as I sat over a pile of laundry that needed to be folded, the thought hit me that if I could do absolutely anything in the world, my dream career would be to write novels. If I could be an author, I would have every item on my check-list. I daydreamed about it for awhile and then I cast the idea out of my mind. There was no way I could ever do that. I loved to read! It was my passion. However, I had never written anything in my life except for school stuff. There was no way that I could dream up a plot, write it all, and then actually get it published. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get the idea out of my mind and I kept feeling this strong urge to "go write." So, I did and it turns out that I could come up with a plot and write out a story... but that's not where it ends. 

I still had to help earn a living for my family. I finally graduated from college, had Jagger, started my first "career job" that turned out to be the WORST one EVER, and kept writing in what little spare time I had. We were barely able to survive on the tiny salary I was earning, plus I was treated terribly at that job by people who didn't want anyone else to succeed or be happy because they weren't succeeding or being happy. I just kept praying and I knew that the bank I was working in wasn't for me, but no where else was any better and the only thing that gave me any excitement (career wise) was writing. 

That's when I prayed that God would find a way to make EVERYTHING work out. I said, "God, I'm handing all of this to you and walking away. You figure it out for me, because I can't." The following day, I kid you not, Conlee came to me with the crazy idea that he wanted to join the military. He said, "If I join the Air Force, we can get out of here. We can travel. I'll pay the bills. You can stay home with the kids and write. We'll just get out of here." Of course, I prayed about it but I kept saying, "No, honey, that's a little extreme..." Three days later, guess what happened? The bank fired me. Why did they fire me? Because they were continuously firing someone. I watched soooooo many people get targeted and fired at that job. They were bored out of their minds and they totally hated life so they decided that they would choose someone to pick on, lie about, torment, tattle on, talk about and put down until they were finally fired. They chose me, and I had nothing left tying me to the mediocre, crappy existence that I had been trying so hard to be successful with. 

So, I prayed again. Are you starting to catch a pattern here? I said, "Okay, God. If this is what you want, this is what I'll do." And immediately, everything started falling into perfect order for Conlee to join the military and me to stay home with our son and write. I got pregnant again. We moved to Florida. Life was amazing, and I had never been happier. I couldn't wait to jump out of bed and write in the mornings. I was living out my dream career... but I still wasn't published and couldn't find a literary agent. Jett was born, we had to buy a bigger vehicle, and before long we were struggling financially again. No, nothing at all like before, but we weren't very comfortable and Conlee started suggesting that I find a part-time job. Well, I prayed about it and knew it didn't feel right but I also knew I had to do something, so I started babysitting. I still felt wrong about it so I prayed and said, "God, I know you want me to write but I have to stop for awhile. I have to be able to help earn an income for the family and if you want me to write, something else is going to have to happen." 

Yep, once again, the very same week that I started babysitting, Conlee received orders (seemingly out of nowhere) for a permanent change of station to Alaska. I definitely didn't want to go, but I felt God pressing on my heart that He chose that path for us. So we moved here, which also gave Conlee a quite large boost in paycheck (to cover the cost of living) and it was enough so that I could comfortably stay home and write again. God just kept working things out for me. By the way, I didn't "hate" babysitting... I met some precious people and children doing that too, but God just kept pushing me forward into my novels.

However, I still wasn't published and now I had four books written and ready to go. It made me wonder if I was meant for this at all. For some reason, I had this strange urge to do a search for the word "author" on FB. I did, and one person popped up with the title, "Author K.A. Robinson." I thought, "Okay, now what...? Should I message her? But she's so busy, there's no way she'll write back..." I put the phone down and picked it back up about ten times before finally sending her a message. She wrote back the next day and told me to look into self-publishing. I've pretty well dubbed her my mentor since then and I'm blessed to call her my friend. I followed her advice and here I am, a few months later.

So, what was my point of this huge story? That if you dream of living a mediocre existence, you will. If you dare to dream a bigger dream, hand your life to the Lord and trust him to fight your battles for you, and you become determined enough to take a few rejections and hard times but keep pressing forward... You can do something amazing. God doesn't "tease" people. He doesn't dangle this amazing goal in front of your face and then snatch it away. I came from nothing and if I can do it, you can too. Keep fighting the good fight and have faith! Jesus will lead you where He needs you. Devote your life to Him and you'll never, ever, ever regret it. Also, if you need a pick-me-up from time to time, check out Joel Osteen on TV or through your podcast. I give him total credit for keeping my faith focused on the Lord.

Now, I know that I'm not anywhere close to being "successful" yet. Let's reserve that title for when I'm making at least $1000 a month, haha, but I'm doing what I love to do. One day, I hope that I can help someone the way that K.A. helped me. This whole experience has taught me to follow my heart and if someone else is out there, like me, dreaming, praying and hoping for something that isn't the "mediocre route," and they need a support system, I hope they read this and I can help them somehow.