By Lydia Redwine
As a 19-year-old middle-class American girl the scope of my life as set by societal standards would go as follows: graduate high school, go to college, succeed in a career, get married, have kids, have a magical retirement and then die. Or something along those lines and maybe not in the specific order. Turns out that my unconventional at- home classical education paired with my undying love for storytelling has led me to write and publish 3 books by the age of 19 and take a big pass on college so I can write. (Not saying everyone should pass on college if they want to write...but for me, the cost and time didn’t seem worth it.) This may seem to be a poor choice to some, and I can understand why.
The most frequent questions I get asked when I tell people I’m working as a supervisor at Chick-Fil-A until I can fund a full time writing career, they ask me how much my books have made, if I’m going to school, etc. These questions are posed to gauge my success. They are not questions I am opposed to being asked, but they are difficult to answer. It is hard to tell someone that you are barely making any money doing what you love when there is so much in what you love that rewards you more than money can.
You can’t buy those nights when you stay up writing the stories that leave you burning and fervent and reeling. The ones you never want to leave, never have to leave because they are so deeply a part of you that they fill every crevice and void. It isn’t because of money that I woke up my younger sister one night to tell her about the “best chapter I have ever written” and laughed as she groggily congratulated me. You can’t buy all those messages and emails you get with online people who have read your book and have such kind things to say.
For me, the purpose of writing has two goals: one, to connect with people and two, to write stories that I love. I have struggled with both of these for quite a long time. Connecting with people was something I hoped would happen right after a book was published. I hoped that people would just read the book and be touched. But that’s not how it works. How it works is sending hundreds of emails to reviewers, messaging other authors on Instagram, and sharing and connecting one on one with other creatives. It is tedious work and for most of those messages and emails you send, you don’t get a response. But every now and then, you find a gem of a human being, someone seeking love and truth in the same way you are.
As for writing a story I love, well that is far easier than it use to be. There was a point in my writing life after I published my first book Spirit Followers in 2016 that I went into what I now call “writer’s depression.” I had written and published a book during a time in which all my friends and family showed unending support and excitement over the project. But when it was released, I was devastated at the fact that hardly anyone bought let alone read the book. What I had taken from my heart and soul and put on paper hardly anyone would read. (I shouldn’t say no one because there were definitely people who did and I am very, very grateful for them.) I had set my expectations too high. I had written a book for the sole purpose of seeing how people would react. Writing its sequel Keepers of the Crown (which was released in March of this year) took a very long time as a result. I fell out of love with the story and with writing. That is until I decided that the poems I was writing for myself and myself only could be a nice little collection. I wanted to publish so I could have a book in a physical format that I loved, regardless of how others took it. Essence of An Age: A Collection of Poetry and Prose helped me to grow and learn more than I could ever have dreamed. This motivated me to finish my 600-page fantasy novel and scare people with its release. Sorry not sorry for writing such a gigantic book lol.
This is all to say one thing in the end: I am so very grateful to be an indie author. Without having to connect with individual people as I have, I wouldn’t have made such wonderful friends as the one’s I’ve found. And I certainly wouldn’t have written stories that I love despite what anyone else thinks of them. Writing, for me, is healing and growing and learning and fun. Haha, don’t forget fun. Yes, sometimes it sucks and we all want to pull our hair out and burn out manuscripts, but it is a part of us. I think with money and success and social media we lose sight of that often. So this is me saying that I’m going to write more in the middle of the night with my phone off (just kidding I have to have spotify and my book playlists) so that I can produce a story I love that maybe might one day (hopefully) touch someone and bring them the same healing and growing that I got to experience while writing.
Lydia Redwine is a young author from Cincinnati, Ohio, who, by the age of 19, has written and published two fantasy novels and a collection of poetry. She aims to write work that is both refreshing and impactful.
Check out her books on Amazon: Essence of an Age
Check out her books on Goodreads: Essence of an Age