Our guest blog today was written by Melissa Wolf, who was born and raised on Long Island. She has written and independently published four young adult novels. She has written for LIB Magazine, Patch.com, and the Post Pioneer. She is a member of the International Women's Writing Guild and the National Writer's Association.
Back in 2007, when I decided to change my major after my first semester of college from Psychology to English Writing, a lot of people asked me why. Mostly my family (and by family, I mean parents) wanted to know why I wanted to get a degree in a field that is a“hobby.” Didn’t I want to make money? Didn’t I want to be successful and be able to support myself? I wanted to, and usually did, tell them, “Duh! Of course I want that.” And yet, I still went into writing. It’s because not only is writing my dream and my destiny, but writing saved my life.
I was one of the lucky ones born with a condition called VACTERL Association. Basically, it’s a condition that affects many body systems at once. Because of that, I had to have twenty-six surgeries. That’s right, twenty-six. Sixteen of them I had before I turned twelve. I spent my life in and out of hospitals getting cut up and put back together. This condition stopped me from being able to live like a normal child. I didn’t play sports, I couldn’t run and climb with my friends, and I was sick so often that I had tutors to keep me on par so I could graduate and move up with my class.
Writing was the one thing I could always do. Whether I was in the hospital, recovering from surgery, or at home trying to feel better, I could write. Even with needles protruding out of my little hands, I could write. Writing took me places that I couldn’t go physically, and it made me feel like I was normal. Writing gave me control when my own life didn’t. Writing helped me deal with and understand what I was going through the way my family, or doctors, could. Writing gave me the power to be who I wanted to be and act the way I wanted to. I didn’t have to apologize for how I wrote or what I wrote. It was for my eyes only.
I wrote a lot in journals. I used to have stacks of journals where I wrote down everything I felt and everything I was going through. The first story I remember writing was about three princesses who moved to a new kingdom. The next one was about glitter bunnies who lived in some kind of glitter land. The first novel I wrote when I was fifteen, and the first novel I published when I was twenty-one. I’ve written three more after that, and I’m working on my fifth now. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hard getting my books attention. There have been days—weeks, even—when I’ve wanted to stop and give up. I thought that maybe this wasn’t for me; that it was just a dream and, like everyone said, a hobby. But every time I try to walk away and make a clean break, I get back with a vengeance.
I can’t let writing go even if I wanted to. It brought me to where I am now and it continues to help me understand and deal with situations in my life. It gives me something to strive for, to depend on, when things in my life don’t make sense. Writing has become part of me, a part I can’t shake and, if I’m being honest, I don’t want to shake. I love writing. Despite the stress, the tears, the insecurities, I love writing. I love creating people, worlds, and stories that others enjoy. I love what I do, even if it’s a struggle every single day.
If there’s one thing I learned in my short twenty-seven years, it’s to do what you love. Do what you dream of and live for. Your life is only yours; you know how to make it shine. So ignore the Negative Nancys and the Pessimistic Pattys. They don’t know what you’re capable of.
Who knows? The thing you love to do may save your life.
An expert editor, seasoned writer, and author-centric marketer, Shayla Raquel works one-on-one with authors and business owners every day. A lifelong lover of books, she has edited over 300 books and has launched several Amazon bestsellers for her clients. Her award-winning blog teaches new and established authors how to write, publish, and market their books. She is the author of the Pre-Publishing Checklist, The Rotting (in Shivers in the Night), and her novel-in-progress, The Suicide Tree. She lives in Oklahoma with her two dogs, Chanel and Wednesday.