It happened: the stories trickled in (not quite like in Harry Potter, though), and I started to edit. Thank goodness my aunt was there to do the final edits and proofreading, of course - I might have had the confidence of an experienced writer but certainly not the know-how! My grandmother wrote to Celine Dion's agent, and Celine ended up contributing the foreword to the book, as she had a niece who passed from CF. It was an exciting time. At 13, I was sending out book proposals to publishers and getting rejection after rejection. I was determined; I had a vision. I learned Quark at 14, did the layout and cover design, and worked with the Boomer Esiason Foundation to garner their sponsorship. At 15, I was tracking down my contributors (after all, it had been a few years since I told them I'd accepted their work) and getting waivers so I could copyright the book. Finally, in 2006, four years after I started, With Every Breath went to press.
Now hold on - there's a reason I'm saying all this, and it's not to stroke my ego. It's that...when I look back, I think: How in the world did all these writers, doctors, and professional businesses and organizations trust ME?! I was just a kid! I'm boggled more than I'm proud. They stuck their necks out for me. They invested their time, money, and energy to see this project through. Why? There must be some secret to getting people to hold interest and faith in your writing and your crazy endeavors.
Here's what I came up with. Every writer needs "-spiration." I'm not entirely referring to the archaic word for "breathing," either. I'm talking about the 3 -spirations:
You need to put the work in if you want to get anywhere as a writer. It's not supposed to come easily. That means practice, agony, and self-loathing. It means writing every day, not just when the lightning bolt strikes. Yes, you're going to get rejected more than you get accepted. The more you push and sweat, though, the farther you can go.
Have a goal in mind. I don't mean something like, "I want to get published." WHERE do you want to get published? WHY do you want to get published? WHO do you want to influence? Formulate a picture of the writer you want to be, and you will always have something to push toward (aside: don't give me flak here for ending with a preposition. I think that should be overruled. How does this flow better: "something toward which to push"?!). If you don't have something you're aspiring toward, you will lose sight of yourself and your motivation as a writer in the midst of rejection, writer's block, and criticism.
Always seek inspiration. Stimulate your mind by learning new things. It doesn't have to be a topic you're going to write about. Learning and working outside of your desk simply boosts your self-esteem, gives you new perspectives, and gets those creative juices flowing. Volunteer, hang out at the library, study a different language, get lost in an unusual blog, or go to a cultural immersion night (in my city, these are everywhere once you look!). Without inspiration, you're going to stop growing as a writer.
If you possess these three qualities, people will take your projects seriously because no matter how high you're reaching or how long it takes, you will get there. They will gravitate to what you are creating, and you will find it easier to create. Of course, I forgot a fourth on the list - "respiration" is always a good thing to do, too!