Have you ever had a passion that began as a teeny, tiny seed deep inside your heart? The more you thought about it, the more it grew from your heart into your mind. Once it became lodged in your mind, you turned it over and over, thinking about the details, the what if scenarios, and began doing research. After a while, as if the secret well inside of you was so big it was about to burst, you told someone. Not just anyone, of course, but a close friend or a family member. You knew the passion, the dream, was so delicate, you couldn’t entrust it to just anyone.
Eventually, as you let that dream flourish, as you fostered your inner passion, it became strong enough to withstand the rejection and onslaught of other people. You could be told no, and remain steadfast. You could have your dream trampled, and press on anyways. A passion for writing or illustrating often begins like this. At least it did for me.
I wrote poetry and simple stories for years growing up. My mother, especially, encouraged me to draw and paint. I still remember those days we would sit down together to paint. As I entered High School, my artistic expression went in random directions, never really finding a home. Even though I was never sure what I was really passionate about, I naturally began blogging on a variety of subjects after college. My background in website design, search engine optimization, and programming helped me create successful blogs rather quickly. Even though these projects were always exciting to pour myself into, the types of writing I was doing didn’t give me the sense of fulfillment I was looking for.
In October of 2015, my older brother Thane Keller self-published science fiction novel, Trials. I hadn’t known he was even writing a book and it took me a while to get around to read it. Once I did read it, I was filled with ideas and concepts that could help propel the world he built and reinforce the plot he created. In January of 2016, we agreed I would write a prequel novel for his series. I immediately got to work and it became an incredibly satisfying passion in my life.
As I wrote, I began doing deliberate research on how to write. My first edit feedback was humbling, to say the least. I thought I was naturally a great writer…don’t we all? But writing professionally was so much more complex than I gave it credit for. So, I hunkered down, and researched like crazy. Every day I learned something new, whether it was a better understanding of point-of-views, sentence structure, or simple tips, I began incorporating everything I was learning.
I wrote and re-vised. Wrote and revised. It wasn’t until later I could take to heart a definition of what revision really is, which is to view the work in a different way, to re-vision it. I began writing and then trying to view it differently, from different angles. Writing was truly satisfying.
Then something unexpected happened. About 30,000 words into the Trials prequel, I had a thought. A very, very different thought. It was a concept for a new science fiction novel. My mind was flooded with ideas and plots, the introduction, the ending. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Every day my brain would keep filling out details and so every morning between 3:00am and 6:00am (my usual writing time), I was torn between two wonderful books. Two wonderful but very different worlds that needed to be written.
At this point, I had been learning so much and spent my commute to and from work listening to classic books on audio, books on how to write, books on how to present ideas and techniques to captivate readers. It was like an artesian well that sprang forth from all around me that I just couldn’t get enough of. I was reading everything I could get my hands on about writing, editing, publishing, self-publishing, querying, everything.
But would you know what happened next? In the midst of trying to manage two science fiction novels, another idea flooded my mind. I couldn’t push it away. It was a children’s picture book story. I immediately wrote the outline down and polished it over a few more days. Then, another children’s book idea came. And another. And another. I was being bombarded by unique, original concepts that would enrich and enliven families everywhere.
Maybe it was the thousands of children’s books my wife and I have read to our two boys over the years. Maybe it was a love of reading that had been developed since I was young. Maybe it was the empty library shelves I would always see in children’s sections. I’m not sure. All I know is children’s books are on a whole different level of satisfaction for me. So much so, that although I am currently seeking literary agent representation, I couldn’t resist commissioning an illustrator for my first children’s book. The artwork is beautiful and I know you’ll love it. I’m hoping to have it out by 2018. But don’t worry, I have many children’s book manuscripts polished and ready to go.
Technically, that makes me a hybrid author – someone who’s friendly to traditional and self-publishing avenues. The reality is much simpler though. Writing is a passion. It can’t be stopped. The ideas come and they must be written. Some will appeal to one crowd while some will appeal to other crowds. The stories need to be told or else they’ll never live. There are people out there who’s life will be incredibly enriched by my stories. They’ll be enriched by yours, too.
I know this post is long but over a decade in SEO shows it doesn’t really matter. What matters, is you. If you’re an aspiring author or illustrator, please don’t give up. Live your passion. Fit it into your day, somehow, someway. If you have a different role in literature (editor, agent, publisher, lawyer, assistant, etc.), your role is vital. Bookshelves are empty. Children need more beautifully illustrated, wonderfully written books. Parents need fun books to share with their children, new stories to choose from. Educators need tools to help in the classroom explain complex concepts in simple ways. The world simply needs more books.
Is writing your passion? Is your passion something else? I’d love to hear about it. Maybe we can help each other along the way and leave this world a
little lot better than when we found it.