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Recently, I was reorganizing my desk and I stumbled upon the original copy of Shadow of an Unknown Past. It’s written in a beat-up spiral-bound notebook that I carried around with me obsessively. I flip through the pages and see all of my notes; I would cross out lines, add text in the margins and attempt to point to it with pen lines…it was a real mess. Totalling 92 pages, the story didn’t have much direction or development.

A printed copy of Shadow of an Unknown Past sitting on top of the first draft

I thought it would be fun to take a picture of it next to the final, bound copy, just to document how far I’ve come. This is just the beginning of my journey as an author, but it’s good to acknowledge what I have accomplished so far. I hope it motivates you to continue holding on to your dreams, even when they seem far out of reach. You never know what opportunities might come your way.

Recently, I had someone ask me when/why I decided to write a book, and as I thought about the answer, I realized I didn’t really know. Even when I was very young, I was always thinking up little stories and creating characters. Eventually, I just started writing them down and creating little adventures for these characters. My first draft of Shadow of an Unknown Past officially began when I was 14, but I didn’t really understand what I was creating at the time. It took a while before I realized I could actually publish it as a book, and even longer still to decide if I wanted to. I love creating worlds and characters, and that was all I had an interest in at the beginning. But then I began sharing some of my drafts with friends and family, and realized I could share the happiness I felt when working on the stories with them. I think that’s what eventually urged me to publish. Deciding how to publish was a whole other nightmare, but I think self-publishing was perfect for me. I’m still not super interested in my stories becoming a roaring success, being made into movies, etc. I just want to allow people to feel the happiness I feel when working on my world.

Now, holding the printed copy makes the hours upon hours of work I put into it worth even more. It’s motivating me to finish the series and the other projects I’ve started. Sometimes it’s easy to compare our work to others and never feel like it measures up—and maybe my stories don’t, compared to other books out there—but I think it’s important for us to acknowledge there will always be someone better than us in our chosen craft. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about filling our lives with meaning and bringing joy to others. If we manage that, even to a small extent, in my opinion, we’ve accomplished far more than many other ‘successes’ out there.

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