Never Let Anyone Steal Your Dream

Keep On Dreaming

What Are You Going To Be?
My road to indie author has been a convoluted one. When I was a little kid, it seemed all grownups loved to ask, “What are you going to be when you grow up?”

For a long time I gave the answer all little boys around here did back then: “I’m gonna play baseball for the Tigers, and I’m gonna be the next Al Kaline.”

I would get a smile, a pat on the head, and a “Good luck, kid.”

I thought it was funny, because it was the same response I heard grownups give to kids who said they wanted to be Superman, and he wasn’t even real.

When I got a little older I realized my batting and fielding skills weren’t going to get me a major league tryout, much less entrée into the Baseball Hall of Fame. It wasn’t likely I’d even get a chance to be a batboy. I probably had a better shot at being Batman.

Changing Priorities
So, I switched my response to “teacher” whenever I was asked, even though I hated the idea.

To me, being a teacher wasn’t a choice at all (sorry to you teachers out there, but I just couldn’t picture myself dealing with a whole classroom full of me every day … although it probably would’ve put me on a fast track to sainthood).

But that simple answer kept adults from nagging me. They’d nod and smile again, like I’d just said the magic word or handed them candy, and the conversation would be over.

A precocious reader, I’d discovered all the classic writers before I was a teenager. I loved all those stories … from Charles Dickens’ “Tale of Two Cities,” to Joseph Conrad’s “Lord Jim” — and the two monumental works of Homer, the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey.”

And then I discovered sci-fi. Somehow, for me, Greek gods and aliens went hand-in-hand.

An Early Author
I’d been writing stories for quite a while before I finally got up the gumption to make my first submission. It was to the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. I was seventeen. It was rejected.

But after that first submission, I would send another new story to a magazine … somewhere … every few months.

I collected rejection slips for most, but I actually did sell a few of them (all general fiction to publications that no longer exist). The payments were small, but the feeling was tremendous.

But when I told friends I wanted to be a writer, they told me, “You’ll never make any money at that” — and I thought perhaps they might be right.

By the time I was ready for college, I had no real idea what I wanted to do. Choosing a major was difficult … but necessary. The war in Vietnam was raging, my draft lottery number was low, but I had a scholarship — and college gave me a four-year deferment.

College Choices
I’d already convinced myself teaching was out, but I was good at math, so I looked at options like accounting and statistics.

I wasn’t exactly sure what a statistician did all day, but it had to do with manipulating numbers and it sounded much more exotic than being an accountant.

I was wrong. I found it tedious and boring. I didn’t want to play with numbers at all.

So I studied other things in school … art and design subjects I found I had a knack for doing. I earned a BA in design … and looked for work. Anything creative, I told myself.

Everyone then told me, “All you can do with a degree like that is teach.” I would shudder when they said it.

However, I was fortunate and found creative work in ad agencies. I was even luckier to discover I was reasonably good at it. I got to design ads and write copy.

I got married, started a family, went back to school to earn an MBA and then secured a nice position on the public relations staff of a Fortune 10 company, where I got to write standard PR press releases, as well as proofread and print the things others had written … whoopee.

But the fiction writing bug had already infected me … big time. I kept on writing and submitting short stories while I worked to earn the money that paid the bills.

A Voracious Reader
I also read in almost every spare moment. I read everything. I read both for the stories themselves, and to discover how other writers created worlds so believable with their words, and drew readers into them so thoroughly, they couldn’t put the book down.

I even read in precious lulls when I was supposed to be doing other things, teaching myself to speed-read so I had time for it all.

And I wrote. Constantly. During tedious work meetings. At lunch. When I was supposed to be paying bills in the evening. I’d dig-in my heels and write when bed was calling and I hadn’t slept for twenty hours.

I kept writing … and reading, and getting up the next morning to do it all over again.

Then, in early 2008, I was forced into early retirement from the nine-to-whenever routine I’d followed for my entire working life. I didn’t want to, but I didn’t have any option. Most of the people around me lost their jobs too, less than eight months later.

I looked briefly for other creative work that wasn’t there, cursed the financial institutions that had caused the new recession and started writing again, full-time.

That’s when I discovered traditional publishers wouldn’t even talk to you without an agent. I also discovered how difficult securing one could be … and how long it could take.

Lucky Again
I didn’t feel like I had that much time to search and wait, so I decided to self-publish and join the rapidly growing indie-author movement. Then, just as I’d done when I discovered the beautiful woman who became my wife, I got lucky again.

My Bride, Lucy
My Beautiful Bride

Four short years after my “retirement” my first novel, REICHOLD STREET, became a 2012 Readers Favorite Gold Medal Winner.

In 2013, my collection of short stories ZEBULON, was selected as the Readers Favorite Silver Medal Winner in Young Adult Fantasy.

I’ve also published another collection of general fiction short stories called TINKER … and I’m hard at work on a sequel to my award-winning novel.

I’ve spoken at a writing conference, had a write-up in two local papers, been mentioned in Publishers Weekly, and even have a high school in Florida where the creative writing teacher is trying to get REICHOLD STREET designated as required reading.

On January 25, 2014, I will be at the Michigan Book Boutique, in Waterford, Michigan, doing a book signing.

Not too bad, for an “old guy.”

All this is why I can confidently say to every indie author out there you should never let anyone steal your dream. Work at it … work hard. It doesn’t matter how long it takes.

Dreams are meant to be lived.




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2 Responses to “Never Let Anyone Steal Your Dream”

  1. W John Wickett Says:

    Congratulations Ron! If I wasn’t going to be down South, I would be at the book signing…glad (but not surprised) you are doing so well!


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