Friday, November 14, 2014

Vicki Leigh's Journey to published author

From dream to reality: Vicki Leigh's journey to becoming a published author

Since I was four-years-old, I’ve been a reader. Like, I was that extra-pasty kid in elementary school, because I would lock myself in my room every day to devour a book instead of playing outside. I loved to read and couldn’t read enough. I won awards in school for “most books read” and was incredibly difficult to punish—or so my parents say—because they’d send me to my room, and I’d just pick up a book.

It was in the fifth grade that I began to write my own stories. I’d cut out models from magazines and paste them on construction paper to make families, and I’d write story ideas in my journals. Then, in the sixth grade, I completed my first piece of work: A Star Wars screenplay. I’d intended to film it with my friends, but the planning fell apart, and I instead went back to reading books and pretending to exist in fantasy worlds. (I really did act them out in my bedroom. Looking back, it’s kind of embarrassing.)

I devoured books through most of high school… and then college started.

In college, I think I read a total of five novels in four years. I was too absorbed in my social life and studies with my boyfriend that I forgot how much I loved books. It wasn’t until 2009 that I read Twilight (hey, don’t judge!) and remembered why I loved reading in the first place.

Between 2009 and 2011, I pretty much read whatever I could get my hands on, and it’s during that time that I fell hard for Young Adult novels. I read series after series—mostly of fantasy and paranormal—and finally, in 2011, I started to write again.

Once I’d started, I couldn’t stop. I remembered why I loved it, and when I finished that first manuscript—a fantasy, of course—I knew that writing meant too much to me for it to be a hobby. So, I began to research how to get published, and at that moment, I made the decision to do whatever it took to become a successful author.

In 2012, I attended my first writing conference, where I felt like a sponge, sucking in as much information as I could. I found CPs and revised and revised, and toward the end of 2012, I sent out my first queries. Then in January of 2013, I began to write a new book—Catch Me When I Fall.

It took me seven months to get Catch Me When I Fall to a place where I felt ready to query, and it was in July that I entered my manuscript in PitchMAS. And by December 2013, I had an agent and a publishing contract. (For the full story on how I got my agent/contract, visit my guest post on Writer’s Digest.)

All of us go on different journeys in our quest for publication. Some people know what they want to be an author from a young age and attend college for creative writing. Others don’t realize how much they love books until they’re forty. And others, like me, go on a rollercoaster ride before recognizing the possibilities.

In reality, it’s not the journey that matters but the destination. No matter how young or old you are, or whether you went to college, or whether you’re rich or poor—anyone can find success if they want it badly enough.

It’s your love for books and knowing that you’ll never feel whole if you don’t create your own that makes you a writer--and it’s tenacity and dedication and a desire to become better with every word you put on the page that helps you become a published author.

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