Finding Readers, No Matter How Long It Takes by Myriam Alvarez
Fifteen years ago, when I was pregnant with my first son, I started drafting a few chapters of what later became my first novel. I was working full time as a foreign correspondent at the United Nations, in New York City, and was planning on taking a six month maternity leave to take care of my newborn and complete my book. Of course, I had no idea of the amount of work (and sleepless nights) that a newborn meant, so I kept my hopes high and kept writing. The contractions started and my beautiful son was born in March 1998. That was the end of my life as I knew it!
Ten years and another baby boy later, I found myself back to square one. But I never stopped thinking of my book. That’s what writers do: they obsess about their work until they complete it. Finding time to write was a different story, though. Between my job at the UN and my two sons, it felt like an impossible task. Until life hit me in the gut. My youngest son was diagnosed with leukemia at age 5 and my world came to a stop. Desperate to get him back to health, I decided that resigning my job as a journalist was the best for my family. But a writer is a writer no matter what. After the first six months of intense chemo, my boy started to get back to a sort of normal life, if one could call it that way. Between chemo treatments, he was able to go back to school as long as he felt well enough. Those precious hours alone at home gave me the chance to start writing again. Soon I realized that writing was my best form of therapy. For a few moments I could escape my reality and take my mind away from a mother’s worries. Thus my book came to life!
Five years and a lot of sweat and tired computer fingers later, my novel was finished. Ironically, that was when my son was declared cancer free. I had won the two biggest battles of my life: his and mine. But publishing became my next big challenge. Like many other talented writers out there, I received rejection after rejection. I tried to use the criticism to improve my manuscript and not let it get to me. It wasn’t easy. The last agent who contacted me was very interested, but after six months of emails, he just dropped the ball. At that point, my gut was telling me: go for it! I’ve come this far, why not finish what I started?
I researched my options and decided to go solo. Self publishing became my biggest and most gratifying empowerment tool since contraception! I loved every minute of the process from speaking to my design team to finding an excellent editor on elance. I had a vision and they understood it. I kept full creative control of my project and worked hard to see it become a reality. My initial investment wasn’t outrageous and didn’t break the bank. Thanks to my husband’s support, I was able to start my small business: publishing my book. My novel Flowers in the Dust is the result of love, passion, tenacity, consistency and dedication. But mostly, I believed in my story and knew I wasn’t going to stop until I told it. My son’s illness gave me a sense of urgency I hadn’t felt before: life is short, there is no time to waste. I was a successful journalist for 20 years, but nothing compares to the satisfaction I felt when I held my book for the first time. It’s amazing how many women are finding their true voice thanks to the endless possibilities of the internet and self-publishing. If you have something to say or write, do it! No time to waste!
Myriam Alvarez was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 1996, she moved to New York City, where she worked for 12 years as a foreign correspondent for an international news agency, at the United Nations Headquarters. She has over 20 years of experience as a journalist and freelance writer. Currently, she writes for several Hispanic magazines. She lives in New Jersey, with her husband and two sons. Flowers in the Dust is her first novel. For more information, go to www.myriamalvarez.com.
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