In his poem Harlem, Langston Hughes poses the question: What happens to a dream deferred? In my case, it festered.
This March, it’ll be 10 years since my middle son was in a horseback riding accident that changed all of our lives. It was a devastating experience, but one that I believe God worked for our good. The story of Blake’s accident and of my dream are intertwined, for it was after I left my corporate job to care for him that my publisher found me and my dream of being an author came to life.
The next few years had their share of hardships, but in many ways, they were my happiest. We were living on a little homestead in the Missouri hills. I was in the thick of raising my boys—my greatest joys have come from being their mother. I was writing full-time, my books were doing well, and I was working for my publisher.
I’ve actually been pretty blessed with my career. Not so much with moving up the ladder or making tons of money—I move around too much for that—but I’ve had some amazing experiences and made true friends along the way. But with Booktrope and my books, I was in my element. It was that beautiful thing where you work really hard and a lot, but you love it so much you don’t even notice. With Booktrope, I found my people.
So it was devastating to me on so many levels when they folded in 2016. I lost my job, my friends were scattered, my books were delisted, and it was the final nail in the coffin for my marriage. I went back to corporate life because kids like to eat (the divas). I self-pubbed my books on Amazon so they wouldn’t go away entirely, and I didn’t publish again for five years. The books became little more than an interesting conversation piece at the random meeting.
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve had some pretty cool jobs since then. As before, I had amazing experiences and made true friends along the way. But it was always there—that deferred dream festering in my soul.
I have journals filled with ramblings. A hard drive full of book ideas and partially finished stories. Every now and then I’d put forth a burst of effort. I’d make a promise to my readers and promptly break it because life always got in the way. But really, down deep, it felt like my dream had passed me by.
And that ate at me.
I truly believe I did well for the companies I worked for. I gave them my all, drove revenue, and learned much. But that didn’t change the fact that as long as I wasn’t doing what I was created to do, a piece of me was missing. The longer it wore on, the more miserable I became.
And then COVID happened, and I found myself at a forced crossroads. I no longer had the corporate job and I had a choice to make: scramble to find a new one or return to my books. My kids aren’t little anymore; they no longer depend on me quite like they used to. Number one is grown. Number two is moving out in the spring. Number three has a year left. I talked to all three of them and we made a family decision that it was time for me to revive my dream.
As it happened, a couple of friends who are still deeply immersed in the book world reached out because they knew of a successful women’s fiction author who needed a second set of hands to keep up with her platform. Introductions were made, friendships formed, and one thing kind of led to another. Ultimately, two big things came from that meeting.
The first is that I launched my own small business putting my knowledge of publishing, editing, and marketing to use so I could keep my head above water (and a roof over it). Dolittle Author Services got its name because friends jokingly call me Ms Dolittle and it lent itself to the tagline “Because sometimes you just need a little help,” which amused me.
The second is that my existing books got cleaned up interiors, reorganized to better align with their various genres, and they got gorgeous new covers. They’re being relaunched (this week, in fact!) in hopes of breathing new life into them before the launch of my next book.
Last week, my editor and I met to put together a game plan to get the next book done on time (I’m not making that announcement until I’m 1000% sure we can meet the goal; I will not do that to my readers again!) But it is coming. Soon. I actually have a full publication schedule mapped out for 2021.
After a five year drought, there will be new books. Lots and lots of books.
Because I do not want to defer my dream any longer. I don’t want it to dry up or fester because the damage done to me when that happens is too much to bear.
So, wish me luck. And, you know, buy my books.