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My Writing Journey: 16 of the Past 23 Years

I've wanted to be an author since I was 7 years old.

You know how most kids change their dream career thirteen times before they're ten? And then they change it another nine times before high school, and then another seventeen times before they get to college.

If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, from age 7 to 23 (the age I am now), the answer would have always been the exact same. For all 16 of those years.

I've always wanted to be an author.

I hand-wrote my first novel in the fourth grade. 250 pages in a blue notebook, complete with illustrations of the characters I could come up with. I had--and still have--zero artistic capabilities, so the characters don't look their best, but they're there.

In my family's Christmas card when I was 10 years old, my dad wrote in his paragraph about me that I loved to write, and wanted to be a published author someday.

When I was 11, my parents gave me a laptop for Christmas. I spent the entire day figuring out how to download Microsoft Word so that I could officially type up my stories on my very own computer.

When I was 12, I published my first book.

I used to be embarrassed of the fact that my books were self-published. It wasn't as if I had sent them out to publishers and had been rejected--I was just young and impatient and determined to make my dreams come true. I wanted to be a published author, and so I became one. I did the research on my little laptop. I made the cover with the template offered by what was then known as Createspace. I ordered a proof copy and read it over. I had my dad read it over as my 'editor.' And I published my book.

Within the next year and a half, two more books went along with the first one. They made up the Spy TEC trilogy--a series about kids who rode dragons and defeated bad guys at a secret spy summer camp.

My cousins, sister, and I used to make home movies together. I wrote a book based off of one of our first home movies. My cousin Alexis' face was on the cover. I published it about a year after I published the final Spy TEC book.

14 years old, with 4 published books under my belt. I had achieved my dream. But I had so many more stories to tell.

So, I began writing on Wattpad. I published multiple stories, before coming up with more ideas, and then I would start new books...sometimes without finishing the older ones. When I was in high school, I thought my love of writing was weird and nerdy. I got embarrassed when friends or family brought up my books to people I didn't know well. I was already suffering from severe self-esteem issues, and being a published author seemed like something that made me even more different than my peers.

But then, I started publishing Dear Sydney on Wattpad. And it took off with more speed than I had thought possible. It was featured on Wattpad's reading list, it won an award, and it skyrocketed to over 1 million reads in less than a year. And all of a sudden, I didn't feel nerdy or weird anymore. And I decided that this was the book that would push me back into publishing in print.

Dear Sydney took over nine months of meticulous editing before it was ready for print, but when it was released, I was overjoyed at the response. People were excited about the book, people loved the book, and I felt like I was graduating high school on the ultimate high.

College came, and with it less time to devote to writing. I minored in Creative Writing, which helped me to refine my craft a bit more, and published two more books in print while in college. When I graduated, I published another book in print. And now, I have dozens of books being written at once while dozens more ideas flood into my head every day. I love writing more than almost anything else in the world. And I'm so grateful that I was able to make my dream a reality for myself, over and over again.

I think 7-year-old me would be proud.

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