A Book, a Blog, and a Dream: My ‘Before Thirty’ Project

Have you ever felt like there’s something you’re supposed to do, had a nagging feeling that’s followed you, kind of like your shadow, for most of your life—and yet, you’ve never done it? Have you found yourself wondering why you just can’t make yourself do that one thing you seem meant to do? Have you felt disgusted, even, because you’ve let other stuff get in the way? Or, another possibility, have you been so beaten down by circumstances that you’ve lost sight of your true purpose, and with that, your true identity?

Well, for me, that something is writing a book. And this blog is proof that I’m finally doing it. This blog started as a graduate class project for which I was researching and writing how to get published. But when my professor pushed us to write our last essay for a real-world audience, I felt it was time to take action.

I’d been waiting over ten years to publish a book; I was at the end of my master’s degree; and I was at a crossroads. As I wrote in my MFA application essay, I can’t fight this feeling anymore (some eighties band might have said that, too). Anyway, for months now, ideas have been spewing out of my pen, and although I don’t know what next year holds—I have applied for both PhD and MFA programs, and talks of kids are underway—for now I have a semester “off”; and I have decided to write.

But what am I writing about? Friends and family have asked. It’s not enough just to want to write—you also have to have an idea.

Look again at my first paragraph. That, in a nutshell, is what my book, and this blog, is about. It’s not just about my journey to publishing a book (although that’s part of it). It’s about pursuing dreams that were interrupted by depression and other disasters. In the words I have chosen to describe my project, it’s about writing to my roots: the roots of what I was meant to have, be, and do—and the roots of what kept me from having, being, and doing all of the above for most of my adult life.

Thank God, after praying through a lot of the bad roots in myself, I am ready to write to the good ones (though there’s always more healing to do). That said, in order to document the tangible feat of publishing a book by the time I’m thirty, I’ll also want to tell you about the many intangible feats it took for me to get here. I’ll tell you about how I’ve survived a broken family; how I’ve overcome a debilitating mental illness; and how I’m finally learning to redefine myself after, at age twenty, leaving everything I had and everything I knew—family, job, school, and friends—to move one-thousand miles and marry a man I’d known only four months. Spoiler alert: my story has a happy ending.Image


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