The road to success is rarely a smooth one.
There are precious few success stories that go like this:
"I came up with a brilliant idea. I tried it, and it worked the first time, and was an instant success, and now I'm rich and famous. The end."
And it's a good thing, too, because DEAR GOD that would be boring.
Happily for those of us who enjoy a good yarn, most success stories actually go a lot more like this:
"I came up with an idea I thought was brilliant, made a series of spectacularly terrible choices, got myself into a situation that nearly destroyed me, realized I had to face up to my greatest fear or die trying, and barely made it out alive. This led me to another idea, which, after two decades of hard work and repeated rejection, has finally yielded success."
Which, of course, just happens to be my story.
You see, I thought I was going to be an academic. That my future was in an ivory tower, writing scholarly articles and teaching fun-yet-challenging university courses. So I went to Africa on a Fulbright scholarship, believing this would lead me down that brick-and-ivy lined path to professorial glory.
What happened after that is the subject of my newly-published book, Melting Ivory. And let's just say that things didn't exactly go according to plan.
Once I realized that academia and I were not right for one another, I was able to admit to myself that what I *really* wanted was to tell my stories, and to help other people tell theirs. And now I had one hell of a story to tell.
But even after the book was written, it took me twenty years to edit and finally publish it. Several times, I set it aside to focus on other things. But I never gave up, and I always came back to it with a new perspective and renewed energy.
I had many helpers along the way. Early readers, editors, cheerleaders, author friends offering marketing advice... I accepted every offer of assistance with shameless enthusiasm and very vocal gratitude.
Two days ago, during a free promo to encourage more reviews, I woke up to discover that my book was in the #1 slot in two different categories on the Kindle store: Memoirs, and Dysfunctional Relationships, and the reviews have been rolling in ever steadily since, all of them positive (so far).
But that isn't why I consider it a success. I consider it a success for two reasons:
I followed my heart, and I never gave up.
I told my authentic truth to the world: raw, unvarnished, and at times downright ugly. And that truth has now been heard.
Here's hoping it breaks loose some dormant truths in those readers who are ready to confront them, and inspires them to tell their stories, too.
Who knows? Maybe they'll even let me help.