My Only Enemy Is Me

I am extremely spoiled by the support I’ve received from my family and friends. The only negativity I’ve ever received came from the girl in the mirror. She’s pretty good at it, though, so it was plenty to keep me from following through for a very long time.

Norman Rockwell’s “Girl at Mirror”

My parents never laughed at anything I wanted to do. As a kid, I wanted to be a writer. In high school, I looked forward to getting a degree in English. When I got to college…well, that’s a long story. I’ll try to keep it short. I moved around a lot. I changed colleges with every move. And I changed majors frequently.

First, it was film. I wanted to be a producer, though I had no idea, really, what producers did. But they had a lot of money. When I shot my final project at the wrong speed, I panicked and dropped the class. I hadn’t written it to be in slow motion. Nobody laughed, though. They encouraged me. Even though I quit the rest of my classes, too, and moved away.

Business is smarter. If you want to get rich, major in business.

Did you know they’ll make you take accounting? I was getting a C in the class, but still had no idea what the hell I was doing. I quit. And yeah, I moved again. But it was okay. Follow your dreams, right?

We’re not even going to discuss marine biology. I love the ocean. Whales are awesome. Living near water might have helped this move along better than it did, but let’s just call it a non-starter and press on.

I did other things. Started businesses doing weird things like desktop publishing and making stuffed bears dressed like people. But writing was always there. I just didn’t think it was smart to make it a career.

Thirty-six. That’s how old I was when I went back and finally declared myself an English major. My husband was proud of me. My kids were proud of me. My parents were proud of me. It all slipped into place. I wrote stories and finished them. I went away for a week to a writer’s workshop. I had a few things published in the university’s literary magazine.

Everyone beamed with pride. The encouragement was incredible. For Christmas, my brother presented me with a copy of the year’s Writer’s Market, telling me “It’s time.”

He was right. I took the next steps, and when I became a neurotic wreck from submission-related waiting, my family rallied around me, soothing my fears, making me eat, and telling me constantly that I’m a great writer and something good was bound to happen.

And now? They still rally around me when I’m afraid, neurotic, depressed, or obsessed. The kids make sure I eat when I’m on a writing bend. My husband doesn’t complain when he can’t find clean socks. My friends understand if they don’t see me or hear from me for weeks. The whole house goes silent if I’m on a deadline.

Nobody’s ever laughed or told me I was foolish but me. And even the girl in the mirror, though not exactly encouraging yet, no longer voices objections.

I am the luckiest writer in the world.

Rachel is the author of the urban fantasy Monster Haven series from Carina Press. She believes in magic, the power of love, good cheese, lucky socks, and putting things off until stress gets them done faster at the last minute. Her home is Disneyland, despite her current location in Kansas.

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