A lot can happen over a two year period. You can move, change jobs, lose loved ones. Babies are born, birthdays will be celebrated, and life marches on. For me, the past two years have been a time of change, a time of growth, a time of seeing my life-long dream of being an author finally reaching fruition.
Reaching that goal has not been without strife…or pain…or loss. Reaching that goal came only after an enormous loss in my life; a loss that kicked me in the butt and made me realize how fragile and short life really is. What the hell was I waiting for? I’d been dreaming about publishing a book practically my entire life, but it took a life-changing event to make me realize that dreams won’t happen unless you put one foot in front of the other and take a chance on yourself.
Thus, “Losing Faith” was born. It was, quite literally, born while doing just that...putting one foot forward….walking on my treadmill one afternoon. Sure, I’d had ideas and stories floating around in my head and on paper for years prior to that. I’d written what I’d thought were decent novels, a few short stories, and jotted down some ideas. But when my best friend died of breast cancer in 2010, I did what all writers do; I put my heartache down on paper.
At first it began as an auto-biography; my reflections on watching a loved one battle an atrocious disease. But quite frankly the idea of putting real names and faces to the agonizing pain we were all still feeling, seemed almost cruel. So it was as I was traipsing along on my treadmill, “Iron & Wine” playing on my IPod, that I got the idea to put my friend’s story – and mine too – into a fiction based novel.
I wrote “Losing Faith” in a flurried few months, getting my memories and pain down onto the page and bringing what I’d hoped would be a true look at a real struggle of what it means to live after losing someone you love. The love story I threw in there was simply the hopeless romantic in me trying to lighten the heaviness.
I tucked the story away for a while, brought it out and re-polished it a few bazillion times, and it wasn’t until my husband suggested I look into self-publishing that I even considered the idea of bringing “Faith” to life.
For four or so months, I worked with AuthorHouse Publishing to self-publish (sort-of) my novel. While I will always have certain regrets about going that direction right out of the gate, I will say it was an excellent learning experience. I could go on for hours about what I’ve learned from that experience (and the subsequent book I published with them), and suffice it to say I was relieved once my contract was completed and I could truly self-publish on my own.
I will never…never….regret publishing “Losing Faith”. It was not (and probably will never be) a “marketable” book. It doesn’t have the splashy cover with the hunky guy on the front. It didn’t by any stretch of the imagination get the notice it deserved, which I will equally blame on myself and the company I worked with. That said, I still look at my beautiful cover, the sunflower a true representation of my sweet, dear friend who we lost far too soon, and I know I did right by her.
September 22nd marks the 2-year anniversary of “Losing Faith”. Since that date, I’ve published the follow-up to it, “Loving Emma”, and I’m due to release a brand new novel, “Saving Cruz” on October 4th. I’ve seen my dream reach fruition. I’m one of the lucky ones. Some people dream about wanting to do something their entire lives, and whether it be fear, money or plain old doubt, they never take that giant step toward the unknown. I understand…it’s scary as hell out here. It still feels strange to tell people I’m a writer, especially after I spent more than 30 years hiding my writing and keeping it only to myself. I’m getting better at it, but it will take time. I am willing to share my writing more, whereas before I guarded it closely under lock and key. Embracing a dream and going for it is scary, but I really believe having regrets is more terrifying.
I’m grateful for the folks who read “Losing Faith”, folks who saw beyond the love relationship to the bigger crux of the story. I’m grateful for the reviews and for people who tell me they see so much of her in the words I’ve written. Mostly, I’m grateful I had the opportunity to put my pain down onto the page; to find the release I was so desperately looking for, and to find a way – my way – to honor my friend.
She’s been gone now nearly six years, and there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think of her. Her friendship enriched my life. Her death expanded it. Finding my dream came at a great cost, but she’d be the first one to kick me if I ever said I felt guilty about that. She was all about chasing dreams, and she’d have been the first one cheering me on now. In a way, I suppose she is; in every word I put down onto the page, in every step forward I take in achieving my goals.