As an 8th grade English teacher, one of my favorite assignments is when I ask my students to create their own bucket lists. It amazes me how they struggle thinking of their lives past age thirteen. A motto in my classroom is "Dream Big". I want my students to envision how their lives will look well beyond the eighth grade. I believe our lives are made up of the choices we make, and the dreams we have for ourselves. The choices my students make today are already shaping the adults they will become, and if they don't dream big, how will big things happen?
So each year when I assign the bucket list, as any good teacher would do, I make a bucket list with them. And each year I write: Travel to London, Take a Photography Class, Watch a Meteor Shower, and so on. And every year I added "Write a Book"... but the years passed by, one by one, and still no book.
In 2012 I turned 40. It was really no different from any other birthday. I had no issues with my age. I was where I hoped to be at forty in both my career and personal life. BUT, turning 40 reminded me how fast time was flying. I was sick of writing on my bucket list "Write a Book", so on my 40th birthday, I began writing THE PLAYLIST.
It took me 2 years to write the book and 1 year to revise and edit it. I wrote primarily during school vacations and summers, and the writing process was painful. Although I loved the creative aspect, as a writer, I am exceedingly slow. I barely averaged a page an hour. Every night as my young son went to bed, he would ask me what page I was on, and every morning when he awoke, he would ask me how many pages I'd written. "That's it?" was often his comment. But he watched me complete a monumental task, one slow page at a time. I was proud to show my son you can do anything you set your mind to and to teach him never to give up. Some people want to climb Mt. Everest or run a marathon; I wanted to write a book. My finished manuscript was 311 pages.
So, now what? Of course, while I was writing my book, I dreamed of someday getting it published, but that was not my motivation for writing it. I had no dreams of striking it rich and quitting my job. I loved teaching! But it seemed a sin that this book, filled with love, hope, forgiveness and redemption, would stay locked in my computer. I felt compelled to share my story, share my characters, their struggles, and their triumphs.
My book deals with dark topics like addiction, suicide, mental illness and abuse. Yes, there are many autobiogaphical parts to my book, but the sad reality is that millions of people are dealing with the same issues every day. My life is not that different.
Writing this book healed me in ways I cannot even explain. To say it was cathartic is an understatement. If this book healed me, helped me forgive and move forward in love, what could it do for my readers? I needed people to read it. I needed to do my best to get it out into the world. I believed my book could help people. THE PLAYLIST needed to be on the shelves of Barnes and Noble... but how? The first step was easy; I needed to "Dream Big".