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A "Real Writer"

Yesterday, after over fifteen years of telling this story, I held the final chapters of The Mapweaver Chronicles in my hands and sobbed.

They were not bad tears, although to be fair they were not entirely good tears, either. They were filled with as many complicated and layered emotions as the books themselves. Because, like all good stories, the process of creating this world and writing these books has been filled with both victories and defeats. There have been massive highs and incredible lows. There have been wins, losses, massive gaps where I didn't have the strength to fight the creative battle at all ...

Last night made it all worth it. Because finally, I finished something. And I could feel it.

I started writing the first installment of The Mapweaver Chronicles when I was only seventeen. A senior in high school. Back then, it was meant to be an entirely different story. The main character was different, the world was different, even the quest was set to take entirely different turns. Until one day my mentor, reading over the opening chapters, said to me quite simply: "You know Fox is your main character, right?"

Wrong, I thought immediately. Absolutely wrong. Fox was meant to be a supporting character to Teran, my original MC. He was the old and retired teacher character, meant to guide Teran on his journey. But as I spent two weeks trying to prove I was telling the right story, trying to prove my mentor wrong, I realized that he was, in fact, VERY right. Fox was just more interesting. And whatever I did in the FUTURE of this world, the story right now needed to START with him, and how he would impact it.

Essentially, these five books started as a prequel to one story I may never tell. And I am so glad they did.

Nothing about my writing and publishing journey is what I imagined. I imagined I would sell the first book to an agent, and take the "traditional" route. I never imagined for a moment that I would be publishing by myself, learning the ins and outs of design and formatting and marketing while still trying to juggle several full- and part-time jobs. I imagined both my parents seeing me finish this incredible thing one day, and watching me blossom into a full time author. I never ever imagined that I would lose both of them before the series was finished.

I have brought this series with me through every phase of my life. It has been with me through cancer scares and funerals, through marriages and divorces, through three states and more than a dozen homes and coutless jobs. I have defended it with as much passion as I have created it with, using it to support the very idea of self-publishing as a valid option, and using it to teach the concept of finding whatever creative process works for YOU, no matter what anyone else says. I have done book signings, launch events, speaking engagements, and had fans travel from out of the state just to support me. And yet, it took me holding the finale in my own hands last night for me to feel, after fifteen years, like a Real Writer.

And it's not that I wasn't before. Everything I've done up until this point has been legitimate, every praise earned. And I'm absolutely certain that some people reach that "real artist" point at different stages in their journey, all of which are valid. But a switch flipped in my head last night, and suddenly I am filled with a creative confidence the likes of which I have never known.

Because I made something magical. I finished something epic and amazing and life-changing. And I've only just begun.

I'm ready to keep telling stories until the day I die. And nothing, not even myself, is getting in my way ever again.

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