Writing has always been my passion. I remember stumbling into my second-grade classroom the morning of career day, tightly gripping the straps of my Disney princess backpack. While the other kids wanted to be doctors, or lawyers, or teachers, I loudly proclaimed that I was going to be an “author-illustrator-poet.” Not one of them—all of them.
When I tell that story now, as a nineteen-year-old headed into her second year of college, I can’t say that much has changed. Writing professionally is still my dream, a goal that I work towards whenever I can, with illustrating and poetry following closely behind.
As a little kid, I always thought it was going to be easy. Just write a book, and you become an author, write a poem, become a poet, or draw a picture and become an illustrator, right? Wrong. As I work to gather by-lines and writing credits, I’ve found that the path is littered with quite a few more landmines than previously expected. And one of the biggest obstacles so far?
I’m an honors and AP kid turned into an almost adult. I will openly admit that I come from a life of privilege. I work for what I want, sure, but I’ve never deliberately been told no. That an opportunity that I yearn for is simply off the table. And, in the writing career, that ends up happening a lot. It’s not just write and suddenly you become a published author. It’s write, persist, keep writing, be told no, and then maybe, if you’re lucky, find someone who actually likes your work and get published. It rips apart your confidence and makes you feel like you’re not good enough. There’s no point in trying if you’re going to be told no over and over again.
Success is an uphill climb. The rejection is really awful, but seeing some sort of upward motion makes it worth it. When I finally got my first few articles published last summer, it was an unimaginable rush. It wasn’t the biggest publication in the world, nor was it any kind of special record, but it was something, a mark of me slowly making my way to becoming a real author. To making my dreams come true.
No one who’s been successful hasn’t had to deal with rejection. No matter what career or goal in life, it’s undeniable. Somethings just won’t work out, no matter how hard you try. The important part is that you can’t stop trying. There will be thousands of opportunities, you just have to find the one. Before I started contributing to OWTL, I was rejected by three separate communities. It hurt, but it made me work harder. And then, one day, my luck changed. Just when I thought that I should take a break from writing, the editors of OWTL got back to me and accepted me as a contributor. As with anything, it just takes one yes to turn dreams into a reality.
So while I may not be an author-illustrator-poet yet, that second grade dream is still in the making. While I would give the world to become the person who has already made that dream happen, today, right now, the best I can do is just muddle through the hard parts. Because one day, those dreams will be my life, and if that takes a little bit of rejection, I’ll work through it.