When I asked Athena Hernandez to write the New Year’s post, I expected it to be good. What I didn’t expect was that it gave me goosebumps and renewed my writing enthusiasm. I hope this post inspires you as it has me. Thanks Athena, and congratulations for winning the Gifts for Writers giveaway. Happy New Year to you all!
Our lives are defined by our choices. I chose my college major (English) and my career (public relations). But, writing (storytelling) chose me.
Writing has always co-existed in my life, like a sidekick. Alongside my career, my familial responsibilities, my dreams, and my fears, writing was my gift–not my choice. Like a long distance friend, our reunions were seamless and untethered by the separation.
Over the years I often wondered what it would be like to devote myself to my writing, unburdened by work and time constraints. Unexpectedly in November 2013, I resigned from my six-figure public relations position, frustrated, stifled, and disillusioned. I was blocked creatively, consumed with the politics of a high-profile position in our nation’s capital. I was burned out and wanted more for myself. I deserved better.
In 2009, I caught of glimpse of better on a beach in Aruba when the voice and image of my first picture book character appeared. Her name was Chloe; she was a flower girl with dreams of being a princess. She was quietly curious with caramel colored skin, dark chocolate eyes, and wildly curly hair. Chloe woke the sleeping giant and I realized I had been chosen.
My path to becoming a full-time writer has been colorful and is still in its infancy. Before I began writing Chloe’s story, I had never taken a creative writing course. I had only ever written nonfiction. I’ve honed my craft with books, writing retreats, critique groups, online courses, and my SCBWI membership. I conquered NaNoWriMo producing first drafts of a middle grade and a young adult novel. I built a website, started a blog, and ordered business cards. I needed tangible proof that writing had transitioned from sidekick to co-star in my life.
If you’re reading this, you too were chosen. For me, time was my enemy and I removed it from the equation. As writers, we must assess and remove barriers. We must define what our writer lives look like—full-time or part-time, hobbies or careers, a fleeting fancy or a game changer. No two paths are the same, but there are some commonalities. Every path is paved in blood, sweat, and tears, and has peaks and valleys, curves and roadblocks, successes and failures. Good, bad or indifferent, each is a milestone on the road to defining success.
Begin 2014 with purpose and envision your life as a writer. Take inventory. Define your goals and make them tangible. Celebrate your milestones (yes, even the rejections). And, enjoy the ride. Remember, you were chosen; make it count.
Athena Hernandez is an accomplished executive communications professional with more than two decades of experience and aspirations of becoming a published children’s book author. Her professional expertise includes extensive experience in media relations, outreach, and training; strategic communications planning and execution; crisis communications; digital/social media campaigns, management, and engagement; strategic content development; writing/editing; brand management; stakeholder engagement; photography; and videography. Her interest in creative writing began in 2009 and she is currently finalizing a middle grade novel set for release in Spring 2014. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Mid-Atlantic Chapter and makes her home in Northern Virginia with her husband Raymond and stepdaughter Ashanti.