I was talking to an old college friend tonight that I had lost touch with over the years with our many moves, and he asked me a question that I hadn't really thought of before.
How did I become an author?
The answer I thought was very a simple. By writing and publishing a book, but the answer I gave him was much more complicated than that. As a child, I had a wild imagination. I had to have one being the youngest child of my generation by eight years. While my brother and cousins were off in high school, I was learning to play alone. I was making up stories in my head and devouring every single Disney movie I could get my hand on.
By the time I reached kindergarten, I had to face an entirely different kind of change. The educational piece I had down pat from the first day, but the social aspect was something I had never experienced. It took a bit to warm up to the other kids, but when I made my first friend who loved to play pretend with me, I had it made. She was someone I could share my crazy ideas with and in hindsight, she was my very first reader. A notion I had never considered before. I was an author before I even realized it, but first, I had to learn to be a reader.
It was Harry Potter that opened up the reader world to me. From "spending the night" at my friend Faith's house as a guise to us going to the midnight release of the newest book in the series (Sorry, Mom) and promising each other not to start it until the morning (Lies!), I had found my home in reading. Even in college, I found myself using a release I had been dying to get my hands on as an incentive to study for my finals.
But how did that love of reading translate into my love of writing? Simple. It just happened.
Yes, you read that right. It just happened. Losing my dad in 2015 was the single most heartbreaking moment of my life. I was close to my dad, and when he left this Earth, I was at a breaking point. I couldn't save him. None of us could. His loss left me broken until I drove to work my first day back after bereavement leave. It was on the trip that a story popped into my head. A story that was my way of coping with his loss. That story was my first book entitled Damaged. The second I started working on it, all the mournful sorry went into the words on its pages. Writing became my therapy. My way of shutting out the world and sharing the stories that had been swirling in my head since childhood. And it's been that way ever since.
So if you started reading this for a step by step guide on how to publish your first story, I'm sorry that this isn't what you are looking for, but I can suggest to a lot of different resources that can help you if that's what you'd like. For me, there wasn't a guide to becoming an author because I had always been one. It had been inside of me for my entire life, and when I the choice to tap that creative energy inside me, I acknowledged what had been inside me all along. A storyteller. A wild imagination. The real me. Will it work that way for you? Maybe. Maybe not, but the first step is taking that leap and writing the magical words. Take the leap and start with chapter one.
The title of this month’s newsletter might be a little shocking to some of you. In fact, you may be scratching your head right now because how would it be possible that I almost didn’t get married when… in fact, I’ve been married for quite some time. With our 10th wedding anniversary and my 34th birthday today, I’ve been thinking a lot about how the last ten years almost didn’t happen at all. Most weddings are these fairytale affairs that we dream about as kids. Mine wasn't, but before we get to that point, I need to go back a bit.
After a year of constant changes with him having to give up a full-ride grad school scholarship to come home to have surgery, our entire plan was in flux. Instead of moving to California after our wedding, we were going to be staying close to home. Really close. As in in his hometown and five miles from my own hometown. Perfect right? Well, not really. My job was over 65 miles away, which meant, my five-minute commute from my apartment turned into 90 minutes of highway hell. But with everything that had changed for him, I was willing to make it work. The weekend before our wedding, I said goodbye to my first grown up apartment and moved back home. Since he was a minister, it was out of the question that we would be staying together before the big day so while my furniture and cat lived with him, I moved back in with my parent’s for a few more days.
Things were different being back home, but 24 hours into the arrangement, my world almost exploded. After a strenuous softball game, the night before, my then fiancé started having issues with what he thought was bad leg cramps. As the next day came, he was unable to walk without severe pain. In true Glen fashion, he wrote it off as a sports injury until I came by on my way home to check my cat and to spend time with him. It took literal seconds for me to see something was wrong, but his stubbornness refused to go to the hospital. Until I called in the big guns. My dad. With his help, we convinced him to be seen, and had we not, I wouldn’t be celebrating my 10th wedding anniversary with him.
The next few hours were a whirlwind of doctors, tornado warnings, and trying to be strong for him. He had a massive blood clot in his leg from his last bro road trip. That clot had broken up in what the doctor could only describe as “the most pulmonary embolisms he’s ever seen in someone still alive.” Not exactly what you wanted to hear, but he was right. Glen shouldn’t be alive. The fact that he made it through is a testament to his strength and determination. It was the single most frightening time in my life except for his second bout with blood clots just six years later that tried to take him away from me again.
With Glen in the hospital, we made the decision to cancel our wedding and reschedule it for the following week. My birthday. The one day that I didn’t want to get married but knowing how much it would take to help him recovery, giving him that goal was the fuel he needed to survive. Sure, we had to find a new reception venue, minister, freeze our wedding cake, order new flowers, and so much more, but looking back now, all of that was truly a drop in the bucket in comparison to losing him.
Our first ten years may have been a roller coaster of ups and downs, but I wouldn’t change it for all the money in the world. It’s those experiences that have shaped me into the woman I am today. Experiences that I put into my very own fictional worlds. Relationships aren’t easy, but when you have to fight for them, it makes those special moments even sweeter.
Happy Anniversary, Mr. Paige. Let’s see what the next ten years bring us.
Avelyn Paige is an Wall Street Journal and USA TODAY bestselling Motorcycle Romance author.