Several years ago when I first began writing, I kept my hobby a carefully guarded secret. Sound familiar? Unsure of my talent and commitment, I wouldn’t admit I scribbled stories for fun. No one ever saw one word of my masterpiece. Actually, my stories never extended beyond the first chapter. Sometimes they ended on page five. Okay, they usually came to a screeching halt on the first page with a few well crafted paragraphs. How could anyone unable to progress beyond a few hundred words expect to write a novel? That unavoidable fact always brought me back to reality.
But I hated the reality of unfilled dreams. Of failing to even try.
I zoomed down the runway, but I never took off. My husband, a retired Navy pilot, spent several years learning how to fly. Could I avoid the preliminaries and take off without developing any skills first? Not me, I’m afraid. So I studied how-to books and mastered some basic skills, but I still didn’t have the confidence to admit I wanted to become a published author.
When I finally confessed my secret ambition to one of my best friends, she shrieked with laughter and sputtered, “You have as much chance of getting published as I have of becoming a rock star.” (My dear friend can’t sing in tune. Neither can I.) I got her point loud and clear. I picked up my smile and chuckled right along with her.
My family didn’t take me seriously, either. Oh, they thought they did. They offered encouragement from time to time, and they told their friends I wrote which was more of a hindrance than a help. I’m thankful they cared. However, despite their verbal support, I noticed they weren’t quite as generous when my writing time impinged upon their needs and plans. When I wrote I wasn’t available to anyone but my muse.
I finally realized no one took me seriously. My writing was just a quirky little hobby. To earn some respect I needed to be published. But that wouldn’t happen without time to study and practice the craft. And for that, I needed to be taken seriously.
My solution was simple: I entered writing contests. Secretly, of course. When I began to final, family and friends looked up in shock and took notice. Maybe I wasn’t published yet, but I’d achieved a milestone they understood and respected. To them, I was now a writer, not just a wannabe.
I was always a writer, but I was the only one who really acknowledged it. Contests have given me feedback etc. but most of all, they’ve made me legitimate!