Two months into 2020, statistics dictate that most people have already given up on their New Year’s resolutions. Sadly, only about six or seven percent of people who make resolutions ever attain their goals. I’ve always been a resolution-maker and a yo yo dieter, so I am forever making plans to lose ten pounds, then breaking them.
But one year, I made a resolution that would take me a decade to achieve.
In 2010, our family was stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, where I made a New Year’s resolution to submit essays I had written two years prior to newspaper editors. I had written about parenting, marriage, and military life to relieve my own stress during my husband’s year-long deployment, and my essays had been sitting in a folder on my computer ever since. “I should finally do something with these,” I thought.
I googled how to submit essays to newspaper editors, and flying by the seat of my double-digit-sized pants, I wrote to them and hit send.
In my mind, my goal had been achieved. I had done my research, conquered my fear, and put myself out there. Done.
Problem was, my essay got published.
My uncle called from the states two weeks after my submission to tell me that he was reading my essay in The Washington Post. I was stunned. “Now what?” I wondered.
Having struggled with self-confidence most of my life, and having left my legal career to manage our military family, I was so focused on getting over my fear of submitting my writing for scrutiny, I never stopped to think about what I would do if someone actually liked it. I didn’t know much about the industry, but I knew that I couldn’t waste the unique opportunity The Washington Post byline had given me. So, I continued researching (which I’m still doing to this day), started a blog, created a column, reached out to other writers, pitched my work to countless editors, read my columns in public, joined writers’s groups, and became intimately familiar with the feeling of rejection.
That 2010 New Year’s resolution followed it’s logical course — my original goal to simply submit my writing became my goal to publish an essay, which became my goal to be a columnist, which became my goal to syndicate, and so on and so on, until my goal morphed into one that 81 percent of all Americans have — to publish a book.
I had no business thinking that, just because I wrote a weekly column, I could publish a book. In fact, 97 percent of people who start writing a book never finish, and of those few who complete a manuscript, only one fifth manage to get them published. To make matters even more daunting, although electronic self-publishing has made it easier to publish, it’s harder to be successful at it. According to Publisher’s Weekly, the average book sells less than 500 copies.
Facing these horrendous odds, I forged ahead with my plan to publish a book. Really?
Insane, I’ll admit. But not only did I finished my manuscript, I signed a book contract, too.
That 2010 New Year’s resolution I made to “put myself out there” took me ten years to accomplish, but I did it despite every probability against me — a stay-at-home military spouse and mother of three, moving every few years, with no inside contacts and no previous experience in the publishing industry. Other military spouse authors set terrific examples — Corie Weathers, Siobhan Falls, Alison Buckholtz, El Brown, Tara Crooks, Rebecca Yarros, Terri Barnes, Kristine Schellhaas, Jocelyn Green, to name only a few.
My book, The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com, will be released on May 1, 2020, one week before Military Spouse Appreciation Day. So apropos, because I credit my accomplishment as a book author to having been a military spouse. Ours is a unique lifestyle that fosters independence, resourcefulness, determination and guts. I may never lose that ten pounds, but being a military spouse gave me the skills I needed to beat impossible odds and achieve something precious, rare and meaningful. Of that, I am eternally grateful and proud.