CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE

Lindsay holds the orange hardcover copy of her book—her first book—in her arms and smiles.

Mrs. Baughman wraps her in a hug. “I knew you could do it,” she says.

Lindsay feels her cheeks heat up and her heart swells inside her chest.

It’s that moment—winning an honorable mention for her story “What Can You Learn From a Giflyaroo”—along with the dozens of other moments during that year—that fifth grade year—sitting and listening to Mrs. Baughman read aloud Matilda, Bridge to Terebithia, and Wait Til Helen Comes that has led her to this decision.

“I want to be an author and write books when I grow up.”

Lindsay continues through the rest of fifth and sixth grade. She heads off to middle school where she learns the consequences of rash words, she experiences the hurt of loving someone who no longer loves you, she travels around the world and sees and experiences things that change her forever.

The dream of becoming an author fades in middle school, and definitely in high school where she finds diagramming sentences and the enormity of creating a book too difficult—even the idea seems impossible. Instead, she thinks that maybe she’ll become a ballet dancer because she has been dancing for years and loves it.

Choose Adventure or continue reading

Adventure 1: Lindsay, despite her graceful movements, is so incredibly inflexible that she becomes the first ballet dancer unable to do the splits . . . needless to say, her dancing career ends quite rapidly and she becomes one of the hilarious out-takes on So You Think You Can Dance.

Continue reading: Lindsay loves dancing, but after trying out for her high school musical and having more fun than she could possibly ever imagine, decides she will someday become a Broadway star.

Adventure 2: Lindsay tries to become an actress, but because of her inability to keep herself from blushing and breaking out in hives on stage she instead becomes a Youtube phenomena called the “incredibly hive and blushing woman” and gets one million views. 

Continue reading: Lindsay has always felt compassion for those who are hurting. She also loved her biology class where she studied genetics through fruit fly romance. She thinks, “What better way to help hurting people and use my fruit fly prowess than to be a nurse?”

Adventure 3: Lindsay goes to college to study nursing. She graduates and finds a job, but faints during her first blood draw and is then featured on AOL news as “One of America’s Worst Nurses.” She goes into hiding and becomes a hermit.

Continue reading: Lindsay ventures off to college and decides to try her hand out at elementary education. After all, she adores kids, loves to help, and she’s pretty sure she is creative enough to put together some pretty amazing bulletin boards (not to mention she’s a whiz at the laminating machine). During one of her semesters she takes a class on Children’s Literature and is once more in awe of picture books, and middle grade and young adult novels. She reads like a crazy person, meets the man of her dreams, who doesn’t seem to mind that she reads like a crazy person because he reads like a crazy man. They end up tying the knot right before Lindsay’s senior year of college. She is starting to doubt her abilities as a teacher since she has realized that teachers need to be some sort of super human species that she’s not sure she can ever be. Then, ta-da! She finds out that surprises happen every day and she is pregnant with her and man-of-her-dreams first baby. She graduates college at eight months pregnant and never ventures into the teaching arena, which everyone is thankful for because she is quite sure she could never do it. Their daughter is born and then twelve months and two weeks later their second is born, a boy. They move a few hundred miles away to the mountains, and in the midst of cooking, cleaning, changing diapers and reading aloud so many picture books that she has to bring two canvas grocery bags to the library two or three times a week, Lindsay thinks “Maybe I could be an author? I always loved to write, and at one time someone said I was good.”

Adventure 4: Lindsay shakes off the silly idea along with the bits of macaroni, wipes down the counter and decides to not give it a shot. It is silly after all to think that SHE could be an author. Silly, silly Lindsay.

Continue reading: Lindsay thinks, “You know what, I might as well give it a try. I mean, it won’t cost me any money to try.” So she tries. And then when her second baby is just over a year old she has baby number 3. She writes. She writes and writes and writes.

Adventure 5: Lindsay decides she is too busy with three kids under the age of three and quits. She has pancakes to make and bottles to clean and toys to put away.

Continue reading: Lindsay finds that she loves writing. Adores it, actually. She reads books, looks up articles on writing and publication on the Internet, and most importantly, she writes more. Lindsay takes a class on writing for children and decides to start sending off a few picture books that she’s written. She gets rejected. Again and again.

Adventure 6: Lindsay decides it’s not worth it and quits. Who wants to hear that they aren’t good enough?

Continue reading: Lindsay has baby number 4 soon after her third daughters first birthday. She keeps getting rejections.

Adventure 7: Lindsay decides she’s too busy with four kids under four, she has entirely too much to do, and the rejections are too painful. She quits.

Continue reading: She loves writing and falls in love with it more each day. She attends her local SCBWI Chapter fall conferences, becomes a mentee with an amazing author in Nevada SCBWI, receives positive feedback from editors and a few agents and joins a critique group. She does whatever it takes. She wins an honorable mention for a story in a contest. The next year she wins 3rd place. She’s feeling good. She writes her first novel and knows that she has found her fit—her destiny—the middle grade novel. Unfortunately…her novel is a disaster.

Adventure 8: She thinks it’s too hard and revisions take up too much time and does her critique group really know what they’re talking about? Doubtful. She quits and leaves her critique group, missing out on some of the best friendships she’ll ever know. It’s just easier.

Continue reading: She revises and revises and writes and writes. And though the rejections continue to pile, she finds her love for writing and creating growing and growing. She couldn’t stop if she tried. She sends out queries for her novel. She gets rejected.

Adventure 9: She thinks “this is ridiculous” and gives up.

Continue reading: She sends out more queries, writes a new story, and revises some more. She gets a few requests from agents and meets an amazing editor. The editor rejects the manuscript.

Adventure 10: Lindsay quits and eats an obscene amount of chocolate, gaining a few hundred pounds. She then goes on to become a contestant on The Biggest Loser.

Continue reading: An amazing agent would like to see revisions and anything else that she’s written to get a feel for her style.

Adventure 11: She doesn’t want to revise any more and says “no thanks.” She thinks she knows what’s best and doesn’t feeling like doing it. She never gets published…ever.

Continue reading: She completes more revisions and signs with that wonderful agent. Brilliant agent says her first novel isn’t ready so she sends out second novel. Rejections accru.

Adventure 12: She gives up. I mean how much can one person take?

Continue reading: She continues to hope and hope while writing a new story. She sends it off to brilliant agent. Old story is pulled from submission and new story is sent out. Sells two weeks later at auction in two-book deal.

Adventure 13: She has reached her goal of publication and decides that’s good enough.

Continue reading: She continues to write and write and write and read and read and read and revise and revise and revise, knowing that there will be more rejections in the future and more success. More chances to quit and more times she must pick herself up and carry on.

I guess the jist of my story is that all along the road towards publication, there are more opportunities and more reasons to quit than there are to continue on. Giving up is easier, less messy, less heart and gut wrenching. Persevering is all hard work and splattered with all sorts of icky-sticky mess. Luck? I’m sure there was some. But really, for me, it was a matter of two things: perseverance and perspective. Perseverance–continuing to try and try and try and try and never giving up. And perspective—seeing all those things that popped up in my life (kids, less time, being a mom, activities, friends, family, medical issues, financial issues, the list could go on and on and on) not as a hindrance or an annoyance to my dream but as steps in making my dream come true.

So, I’d say the end of the story…the end of any story to publication…is entirely up to you.

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13 thoughts on “CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE

  1. Love it, lady!!! What a great concept for your post! But then, I’ve shared a good part of that amazing adventure with you and have been happy to have been along for the ride. :)

  2. I love the homage to REALITY TV SHOWS! So so fun. And, holy cow, four kids under four … and you survived. PUblishing is NOTHING compared to that! ;-) Love this post, Lindsay.

  3. Wonderful post! And we’ve all been there. (I did five total rewrites on my first novel. The third one made it incalculably worse.) Except I’ve never been there with four kids under four–you get an extra gold star for that one.

  4. Brilliant, Lindsay. I’m with you all the way. We had 3 when our eldest was 3 years and one month. It’s a while ago now, admittedly. Oh, it was a blast but I often think that someone must have been spiking my breakfast cereal milk with happy juice because I don’t now how we got through it. And I was a newly appointed surgeon, so I had enough to do. But you know what? Those three became the inspiration for me wanting to write for kids. Obstacles or stepping stones? You do the math.

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