I remember meeting an elderly friend of the family many years ago. Sadly, I’ve forgotten his name and more or less what he looked like. However, I do recall something he said – “Everyone has a story to tell!” At that time, we were raising four children, building a house, and running our own business. There was no time for even thinking about telling a story; never mind, writing one down!
I did think about those words many years later though. There was a story that I did want to tell. Perhaps no one would want to read it; but for some reason, I had this intense desire to write it. It was a story that I’d written in my mind, over and over again. I always loved reading about the pioneer days and the old west. When going to school, I would read Zane Grey’s books until late into the night and then set my alarm so I could wake up early to finish them.
What was the story smoldering around in my imagination? It was about a family traveling in the early 1800’s. What would it really be like driving a covered wagon along with other families in a wagon train? What struggles would they encounter? And what, I asked myself, would happen if for some reason two children ended up all alone? How could they survive? Could an Indian tribe capture them? Would those two children have such a strong bond that they would never part to go their separate ways?
When I was forty, I injured my back and required three weeks of bed rest. Three weeks spent in bed with one small child still at home. How would I manage something like that? Well, my daughter never left my side so she sat surrounded by books, crayons, and coloring books, and what did I have? I had a binder filled with blank pages and a pen.
So began the story about two orphaned children, Sarah Lawdry, and her brother, Frank. It was the start to my book – but life soon took over again and I placed the binder at the bottom of a drawer. Fifteen years later, the desire to finish my story returned. I was now in the computer age so I had to rewrite the story to my computer. Two years later, my novel was finished. Although stored on a computer, publishers still demanded a query letter, synopsis, and several pages of the manuscript. I was thrilled when a publisher replied and asked for an outline of every chapter. I complied but in the end, I received a rejection letter.
Several years went by and I decided I might as well delete the book. I asked my husband if he would like to read it first. He thought I was crazy to delete such a great story and if I didn’t mind, he would publish it himself. What was there to lose? On May 7th, 2012, Sarah’s Valley became available on Amazon. Since then, it has sold thousands of copies, has over 330 reviews, and has been the best seller in a number of categories.
Is there a moral to my story? Yes, there is because something else I remember this older gentleman saying was, “Just do it!”
So, if you have a story wasting away in your imagination or it is already on your computer and you have tried to find an agent or you’ve tried to find a publisher but no one seems interested, don’t delete it! If you have a story to tell – just do it! Publish it yourself.