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Happy Birthday!

Five years ago today, I woke up on a bus, unable to sleep. I was chaperoning a field trip of fifth graders to Washington DC, and the kid behind me wouldn't stop kicking my seat in his sleep, robbing me of mine. So I whipped out my new iPad, fired up the pages app, with the decision that I should right something for my then-unborn child.
I sat and thought about what kind of story I would like to read to my future kid. I thought about what kind of role model I would want my daughter to have. (Sorry, Teddy, thought you were a girl at the time.) And I decided that I wanted a little girl with a big imagination who would challenge everything. And she needed something to struggle against. A city with no imagination, a city that was dull and grey, a city stuck in its ways where new ideas were frowned upon.

So I thought of a name. Gwendolyn. Gwendolyn... Gray. Like the City itself. And a title. The Marvelous Adventures of. And I tapped out those words most appropriate to a story about stories: Once upon a time, there was a girl.

The rest of that field trip, I kept writing. Every chance I had. And when we got back to Indiana, I didn't stop. Over the next week I wrote a chapter, mostly in the early morning or on my break or at lunch. The next week I wrote another, writing during meetings and trainings. My close friends rolled their eyes when I tolled them I was writing a book. They knew me well enough to spot another hobby, another thing to dabble in that I'd get bored with and walk away from in six months. 

And five years, countless drafts, three countries, numerous conferences, hundreds of tweets, thousands of words, and one blog later, here we are. On the cusp.

I've learned so much over the past five years. About writing, plot structure, marketing, the industry. About character and theme and voice. About grit and effort and rejection and waking up way too early. And about myself. I never thought of myself as I writer before now, but my mom always told me that I could be, if I worked at it. So I worked at it. She didn't live long enough to see the finished product, but I know she's proud. So is my wonderful wife and the rest of my family and friends who supported me and listened to me ramble about ideas and read pages and gave feedback. And the more they read, the more those early doubts of theirs drifted away. 

And when I start to doubt myself, when the road is rough and hard and it's too dark to see what lies ahead, I look back at those first pages I tapped out on a bus at 2 A.M somewhere in the middle of Pennsylvania, and I remember a girl with an imagination so big it won't stay inside her head. And I put one foot in front of the other, one word after the next, and I keep on going.

But big things are on the horizon...


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