I am participating in the Writing Contest: Writers Crushing Doubt. Hosted by Positive Writer.
Ever since I can remember I have loved books. I received so many certificates from my elementary school librarian for reading that I was there number one patron and top earner of pizza from the Book It reading program. From an early age I was picked on for being a nerd. People always made me doubt myself. I was going to be a magician when I was age 8 to 12 because I wanted to be able to make myself disappear. I didn’t think anyone liked me.
When I was 12 I was in the elementary school library. I had read every children’s book that was available for my age group. So the head librarian showed me to a particular bookshelf. There were lots of thicker novels with more pages and words. She called them the big kid books. I found a copy of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. A few weeks later after I read them I found The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. After reading them all I was in love with Sherlock Holmes and Dracula. They were my two biggest influences when I decided to become a horror and mystery writer.
I starting writing stories down as a way to escape my world of being picked on that was affecting my self esteem. No matter what I could always turn to a story of my own creation for comfort. It wasn’t until I was ready to go to college that I decided to major in Journalism and really make writing my career. My English teachers in both high school and college told me I was good at crafting a story and maybe I should write a book and seriously think about getting it published.
It wasn’t until 2004 when I went back to college and majored in Administration of Justice that I decided to actually write that book. Using the education I had received when I got my AAS degree I wrote a mystery/thriller about a serial killer being chased by an FBI profiler. I then pitched it to literary agents and publishers, anyone and everyone who accepted my particular genre. The results: repeated rejection.
Most said it needed more work. It wasn’t finished yet. I got to thinking that maybe my English teachers had been wrong about my writing ability. I was ready to literally throw my manuscript into my paper shredder. I was stopped from doing it by my mother who told me I shouldn’t give up. I should think it over a little more. She said besides if you take the time now to shred it you are going to miss that new show you said you wanted to watch on NBC. It was Dracula, starring my favorite actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Jonathan was playing Dracula in this television adaptation. I probably would have watched the show anyway since it was about one of my favorite literary characters but getting to drool over Jonathan every week was an added bonus.
I watched the episode of Dracula, the second of the season. At one point in the show Dracula was talking to Mina Murray. Mina told Dracula that she was going to medical school to be a doctor and she had a very important exam that day one that she might very well fail. Dracula said if you do it will be the end of your dream. Mina said very much so. Dracula then said something I will never forget as long as I live. He looked at Mina and said, “One thing I’ve learned in all my years and all of my journeys Miss Murray is when it comes to dreams one may falter but the only way to fail is to abandon them.”
I was sitting there and all of a sudden I burst into tears. I realized that in an almost cosmic way someone was telling me not to give up on my dream. I had literally gotten into story writing because of Dracula and now he was more or less telling me not to give up on it. After the show went off I decided to wait at least 24 hours before shredding my manuscript.
The next day I went on the computer and checked my e-mail. I have my social media accounts synced to my e-mail so any updates come there first. I had a message that a woman was following me on Twitter. When I clicked on her name and checked out her page on Twitter. She was a literary agent at an agency I had queried three agents at previously and been rejected. It was also one of the top agencies that I was hoping to become a client of eventually. This particular woman was the one agent that accepted my genre whose profile on their website always said not accepting unsolicited queries at this time and she was the one agent there that I had really wanted to contact.
On her Twitter page she was having a pitch fest. You had to sum up your entire story in 140 characters. I did though it wasn’t easy and she asked for a partial manuscript and synopsis. She then contacted me back a short time later and told me I needed to do a rewrite and gave me tips how to do it. After sending back my revisions and talking to her for almost a year she eventually asked for my full manuscript. During that time I also worked on my book’s sequel and came up with the main plots for sixteen more involving my main characters.
So if it wasn’t for Dracula literally sucking the doubt right out of me there wouldn’t have been a manuscript to send. I’m so thankful that classic literature saved my writing.