At three years of age, I read my favorite story, a romance entitled Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman. Maybe the author didn't intend his future children's classic as a romance, as it detailed the story of a pack of dogs and their desire to live a bohemian lifestyle. However, two dogs on the periphery of the story redirected the genre. The girl dog continually solicited the boy dog’s approval for her odd hats. It wasn't until the end of the book when she wore a monstrous contraption upon her head that she earned the admiration of her newfound love. They drove off into the sunset, and I imagined many scenarios, each one telling a different version of the story. Thus began my writing journey, but due to a detrimental experience in the first grade, decades would pass before I shared my stories with anyone.
About Carole Avila
My first grade teacher was absent, and a substitute teacher gave my first written story a big, red F. More red lines indicated poor punctuation, spelling errors and grammar mistakes. The story was five pages of pure hero worship about my oldest brother, but not one word was spared for content. The mark on my story said I was a failure. Ashamed and embarrassed, I crumpled the paper into a ball and shoved it into the farthest corner of my desk. Although my imagination ran wild with stories, I wouldn’t commit one to paper for at least another twenty years.
Every now and then a grade school or junior high teacher, then ones in high school, commented on an assignment, saying that I was a wonderful writer, yet my low self-esteem didn’t allow me to believe them. I thought they were just trying to make me feel better. Maybe they were making fun of me. My six-year-old self still questioned how I could ever be a published author if the substitute teacher gave me an F on my very first story.
A persistent inner voice nagged at my passion for writing, yet I ignored that longing, and a huge void took its place. Working traditional jobs, each day felt like a prison sentence, spending another eight hours in a depressing, mundane, and restrictive environment. I had no idea that by suppressing my passion to write, I had been crushing my own soul.
The product of sexual abuse and childhood dysfunction, I basically grew into a scared adult. I didn't like meeting new people and felt awkward in social situations. Often times I was the target of low-life bullies. Fear permeated every part of my well-being, from social to financial to personal. One person finally came into my life who supported my dreams of writing. Laura became my best friend and my most ardent fan. Tragically, she became ill, and on her death bed made me promise to pursue the art of writing. When she died of breast cancer, I went into a deep depression.
SCARED INTO WRITING
Two years later and still affected by Laura’s passing, at the end of the day exhaustion took hold of me after taking care of three children, cooking and cleaning. The idea of a hot shower sounded enticing. The water heated up, and I let my clothes drop to the floor in a heap. Out of nowhere, Laura’s image appeared in front of me. Not caring that I was stark naked, she fisted her hands and pounded them in the air saying, "Why aren't you writing?"
This visitation from my dear friend was followed by a recurring dream which lasted a week. Each day the images grew stronger, the dialogue clearer and the characters more endearing. The story turned into over 325 hand written pages and I had to buy a computer to make the editing process easier. (That story is still being polished!)
It would be another two decades before I had the determination and motivation to actually pursue the title of author. Laura once told me that anyone could call themselves a writer, but until you were published, you weren't an author. I wanted that title. Something about it gave me the sense I would finally be real—I would finally know my true self. Writing proved to be a calming and nurturing experience, and became my avenue for healing and self-discovery.
Connecting with other writers online, in classes and in critique groups was essential to building my confidence as a writer, but it did something greater—it helped me find my "tribe." For once in my life, I had a true sense of belonging. I learned that many professional authors are generous with their time and wisdom, and I took their advice to heart. I met a woman online who was gracious enough to critique my first chapter of Eve's Amulet~Book 1. “If the rest of your story is this well-written,” she said, “I can refer you to my publisher." I had no idea at the time she was an international best-selling author! Two weeks later, I received a contract for my book.
What a joy to uncover my love of writing and to share all things related to the craft with others who are just as passionate. The happiest people I know are those who do what they love, and I am immensely grateful to be among them.