Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Beginning of a Dream

Beginning.  It's the first step to success.

I'm normally good with beginning.  It's the following through and finishing that challenges me more often than not.  This Beginnings Blogfest post has driven that fact home to me yet again.  I began this post at least half a dozen times. 

What is it they always say? The longest journey begins with the first step.

I'm journeying on the road to becoming an accomplished author.  It's a lofty destination that requires much in the way of ambition, dedication and effort.

There were a number of steps I've taken, each (as I see it) a beginning.

The first beginning was being singled out by an English professor at college.  She read to the entire class a brief paper we had to write "on the fly" during a previous class.  (Thankfully, she didn't announce who had written it. I had already slid so far down in my seat that I was almost sitting on the floor.) She later apologized for not giving me a "head's up", but said she really wanted to share it with the class.

This professor began encouraging me to write.  It was she who inspired me to improve.  It was she who kindled that first spark of the dream.  And it was at her urging that I wrote two short stories and submitted them to a contest.  When both stories placed in that competition, I began to believe I could write.

She told me there was a book dwelling inside me and that I had an obligation to write it.  Due to her insistence and my budding confidence, I began the process of writing my epic fantasy novel.

There were many bumps in that road I was traveling.  Doubts and insecurities assailed me at every intersection.  But in April of 2012, I wrote the final words of that book that begins my series.

With a short story now published, I'm one step closer to my destination.  I'm confident that the day will come when my books are published.  And it's all because I began to believe.

The Beginnings Blogfest is hosted by L.G. Keltner at Writing Off the Edge.

69 comments:

  1. It's wonderful to have a mentor or authority figure notice your work and encourage you. She sounds like a the kind of person all teachers need to be and all students need to have.

    I didn't know you had a short story published. :o)

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    1. Sure did, Mike. It's called "Barnabas" and appears in the "Spells: Ten Tales of Magic" anthology.

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  2. A good educator can make all the difference in the world. I also have issues with finishing things sometimes, but I'm working on that.

    Thanks for joining my blogfest!

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    1. You're welcome. It was quite fun...once I got around to finishing what I started. LOL

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  3. Nice. It only takes a gentle tap to set off a million dominoes.

    I'm with L.G. in that I have issues finishing, but I'd say that anyone who has completed an epic fantasy has probably got that covered, too... show off.

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    1. And once those dominoes start they can put on quite a show!

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  4. That's a wonderful story. I know you'll achieve success one day. :-D

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  5. I love finding out about your beginning! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Grinning here... I can't believe I haven't shared that before now.

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  6. It does make a huge difference to have someone believe in your talent, especially when you doubt it yourself (which I think we all do to some extent).

    mood

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    1. Yes, that's why I feel so strongly about encouraging others. There's enough in life to discourage.

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  7. This is a great beginnings post, because of course, we have to believe in ourselves before we can do anything.

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    1. That is so true, Laura. And it can often be more of a challenge to believe in ourselves than to do anything else.

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  8. I do believe you're a good writer and all you need is to keep the faith on you, like constantly. :)

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    1. Constantly? Really, Al? Constantly sounds like an awful lot of work. LOL (Thanks!)

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  9. Keep writing and it will happen!
    And no one guessed from your slouching that the work was yours? "Hey, why is Jeff on the floor?"

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    1. I was a sloucher already, so I'm hoping not. ;-)

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  10. Congratulations and best of luck in 2013!!

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  11. Amazing how just one person believing in us can change the course of our lives. Makes me more aware of possibly being that "one person" in someone's life. I am looking forward to seeing your book published and being able to say, "Oh yeah-- I know that guy."

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    1. One person can change the course of our lives for good or ill. I prefer to steer folks toward the good whenever possible--as do you.

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  12. What an uplifting post! I imagine you'll always remember that teacher all your life for giving you the gift of belief in yourself.

    I have a mantra, that really helps me. 'I can do this' I repeat it several times when I'm stuck, or the road ahead seems cobbled and steep.
    Keep writing!

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    1. Excellent mantra, reminiscent of the little engine that could. That's super important. And yes, I shall always remember that teacher.

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  13. That happened to me once. A teacher shared an essay I'd written with the entire class. I was only half listening so I have no idea if she told I'd written it beforehand. When I realized she was reading something I'd written, I pretty much disappeared under my desk entirely.

    But it's terrific your professor encouraged you. Bless teachers!

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    1. Yeah, the unexpected often gives me that "deer in headlights" look. Interesting array of simultaneous emotions to say the least. ;-)

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  14. It is always helpful, encouraging when someone takes the time to, well, encourage. Often authors meet people who tell them how impossible their dream is, how silly. Every now and then we need someone to tell us to keep at it.

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    1. Yes, we definitely need to support each other regarding pursuing our dreams. The dreams are important.

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  15. Love the story about your professor, how wonderful. I could imagine myself sliding down onto the floor too!

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    1. And it has to be done discretely enough so as to not draw attention. Didn't even have time to practice beforehand. :-)

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  16. It sounds like you had a wonderful teacher. I can imagine that sliding down towards the floor moment . . .you had me in the scene and feeling the heat. Thanks for sharing your story! Keep writing!

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    1. Thanks, Tyrean. I shall forever be in her debt. I never would have even attempted this if it had not been for her.

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  17. I love hearing how just a little bit of encouragement from a teacher/friend/parent can really set someone off to accomplish great things!

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    1. Few people are able to accomplish great things without someone supporting them in one fashion or another. We're all enriched by authors/performers/novelists/etc achieving their dreams.

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  18. Interesting. I read this and could not help think about the only English teacher I ever had to encourage me to write.

    I think I need to send him an email to thank him. Thank you for reminding me!

    --
    Tim Brannan
    The Other Side
    The Freedom of Nonbelief

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    1. Do so, Tim. So few teachers ever learn of the great things that resulted from their efforts.

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  19. keep believing! what a great teacher! loved your beginning!

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    1. Thanks, Tara. She was indeed a great teacher.

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  20. That last line says it all. Keep on believin' (Or, as Journey would say, don't stop.) ;)

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    1. Thanks, Nicole. I know what I'll be singing the rest of the night. :-)

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  21. Too bad it wasn't until college that anyone noticed.

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    1. In retrospect, I wonder if there was anything *to* notice before college. ;-)

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  22. What a wonderful story. It's so wonderful having someone believe in you and encouraging you.

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    1. There is nothing better than an ardent supporter. I was smart; I married my greatest supporter. ;-)

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  23. That's a great story. I had a college professor who did the same thing to me!! Only I was too busy having babies to take her advice back then...but I did get around to it eventually. :)

    Very glad she encouraged you to begin this amazing journey!

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    1. As am I, Tamara. It's been a wonderful journey and I'm better for having undertaken it, whether I ever reach my final destination or not. Glad you got around to it "eventually" too!

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  24. Having a teacher tell you you're good at something is a great boost. I remember many of my English teachers through out junior high and high school tellimg me the same thing. Luckily none of them ever read any of my stuff out loud. I would have tried to hide too.

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    1. The funniest thing though, Jennifer, is that I literally despised anything related to English until I took that first class of hers. In grade and high school, English was consistently one of my worst subjects.

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  25. Congrats on finishing your book. That's a big accomplishment right there.

    Teachers are awesome and so inspiring. It was a few teachers in my school years that pushed me to write too. Feel fortunate, one of my teachers made me read my piece outloud. In front of lots of people. It was terrifying.

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    1. Thanks, Jean. Getting a book written is definitely an accomplishment. I had to take a "speech" course in college so I got plenty of chances to "present to the class". I always considered it odd that I could teach classes without being nervous, but couldn't give an oral presentation without my hands shaking. Maybe being graded on your performance is the difference?

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  26. Nice you had people behind you. I believe you will get published Jeff. Just keep on going.

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    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Sheena! Votes of confidence are *always* welcome!

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  27. I remember sliding down in my seat when my stuff got read in school, too. I didn't do this blogfest, but I know what you mean about the follow through being harder than the beginning. Whenever I'm close to finishing one project, I tend to look forward to the next one, and I get way more excited for that next one than for the one I'm still finishing, and the one I'm on becomes a burden, so I think the beginning is more exciting for me as well. :D

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    1. Yeah, there is something tantalizing about starting something new. :-)

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  28. How great that you had a professor who believed in you so much. The world would be a better place if we all had a teacher like that! I wish you the best of luck with your series.

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    1. Yes, it would. We all need people like that in our lives. And thanks for the wish of luck!

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  29. Popping in from the Beginnings Blogfest. Hear, hear, for inspiring educators! Congrats on the publication of your short story!

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    1. Thanks, Mina! I still haven't had the chance to get around to all the bloggers who participated yet. It's been a grueling week. But rest assured, I will get around to them. ;-)

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  30. That's so awesome! I'm glad she encouraged you.
    Great post! :)

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    1. Thanks, Melissa. Regardless of how much success I achieve in this pursuit, I'll always owe her a debt of gratitude.

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  31. I had a 7th grade teacher who encouraged me. I was supposed to turn in a 1/2 page description and I turned in 24 pages. She wrote at the top of the page "I'm taking five points off because you didn't follow the instructions." :) I still remember.

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    1. And I bet you didn't even have the decency to use a 72-point font size either. ;-)

      Odd you should mention the point deduction. That same professor took a half-point off an essay I wrote. There were no marks on paper so I asked her why the half-point hit. Her answer: Because nothing's perfect.

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  32. Belief and persistence! Keep writing. Never give up. Your dream will come true :)

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    1. Thanks, Carol! It does come down to belief and persistence, doesn't it? But then, most goals do. :-)

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  33. Congratulations on finishing your novel!! That's fabulous. I'm kind of envious because though I've finished a fair few novels, my epic fantasy is one that still languishes in, um, well, I guess I could just say it languishes in the Bog of Eternal Stench currently. haha. I do intend to finish it someday, but that requires basically an entire rewrite. ;)

    I think that self-belief and resilience are the two key things. Oh, and determination would be the third. :) If we have those, we can get there!

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    1. Thanks for the congrats, Trisha! The Bog of Eternal Stench? LOL. I doubt there's much stench there, whether a rewrite is needed or not. But I do think that epic fantasy, when done well, requires a good bit of time, maybe more than other novels of similar size? Then again, perhaps I'm just a slow drafter. ;-)

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  34. I would have been mortified, too, if one of my teachers had started reading a paper of mine in class! Still, I think it's great how she was so encouraging and helped inspire you to write. There's not enough teachers like that, IMO!

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    1. The world can always use more teachers (and people) like that. Those who encourage are worth their weight in gold!

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  35. Hey, I nominated you for a Liebster award. Find out more here: http://kelworthfiles.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/i-got-a-liebster-award/

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