[Given Erika Liodice's success in writing/publishing her debut novel Empty Arms in Kindle Edition, NOOK Book and Paperback, one might think that becoming an author was a childhood dream. Yet, in today's guest post, Erika tells how her journey to novelist began on the path to self-discovery.]
Growing up I often heard people say, “I found myself at college.” It led me to the delusion that finding oneself was some sort of transcendental experience involving rays of light and smoke clouds of wisdom that could envelop you right in the middle of a keg stand or flaming Dr. Pepper shot. I wish someone would’ve warned me that my metamorphosis was going to be dark and lonely…and take my entire 20s.
But they didn’t. So I ventured off to college and waited patiently for my lightning bolt realization. To my disappointment, the only thing I learned about myself during those four years was how incredibly hard I had to work just to keep my head above water.
Always the optimistic, I figured that my grand discovery would come during my summer backpacking trip through Europe. After all, I’ve had an insatiable wanderlust ever since I first set foot on an airplane when I was six years old, so wouldn’t it be appropriate for my magical epiphany to happen while I was surrounded by rich cultures, exotic foods, romantic languages, and soul-stirring views?
You’d think. Instead, the only thing I learned about myself during those six weeks was how short my fuse can be when I’m overly hot, overly tired, or overly hungry. I returned home no closer to understanding what made me tick or what I had to offer the world. My “truth” eluded me.
With no clear direction of what I wanted, I accepted a well-paying entry-level job at a reputable pharmaceutical company. Since I hadn’t found myself in college or in Europe, I hoped that ascending the rungs of the corporate ladder would hold the answer.
And so I began the climb. I got promoted, chased higher salaries, and even switched companies a few times, desperately trying to uncover the missing ingredient that many of my friends and colleagues had found. Everyone around me seemed happy with their titles, salaries, and job responsibilities, but meanwhile I had the nagging sense that my life was slipping by.
Eventually, I gave up on the notion of finding myself and focused instead on finding happiness. In my free time, I took classes that interested me: graphic design, photography, commercial arts, sculpture, sewing, Pilates. I joined a book club. I taught myself how to cook. I volunteered. I even dragged my non-religious butt to church and studied the Bible. Happiness came in dribs and drabs, but it never stuck around for very long.
Then one day, my husband came home from work and told me a story that nearly brought me to tears. Out of nowhere, the desire to write a novel bowled me over. I started that very day. Thinking it would probably end up being another one of my “flavor of the month” creative undertakings, I didn’t pay it much mind. But then that day turned into a week, and that week turned into a month, and soon I was waking up at 5 a.m. so I could write for two hours before work. A couple of years later, I had a manuscript. A few years after that, I had another.
In the end, I didn’t find myself at college or while backpacking through Europe or while working in Corporate America. I found myself in those cold, dark hours of the morning hunched before the glow of my computer. It taught me that I am a writer. That is my truth. That is what brings me happiness.
That is why I write.
Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Erika Liodice’s Empty Arms — in a random drawing — to anyone who leaves a comment on this post by 8:59 p.m. EST tonight! The winner will be announced here tomorrow.