| This is the 83rd story of Our Life Logs |
I grew up in Independence, a small city in Northern Kentucky that’s primarily made up of small neighborhoods and vast farmland. As an only child, I spent most of my childhood with my parents and other adults. I made friends in school, but I was a bit awkward socially. I didn’t mind. I found comfort through writing. The peaceful tranquility of my small city inspired me to look beyond the pastures and create new worlds in my notebook.
School came easy to me. I loved math and English, though I hated science. I was a very shy, quiet girl and would often be found writing on paper during free periods. I enjoyed escaping reality and following my imagination to discover new ones. I believe my love of writing stemmed from my second-grade teacher. To encourage me to practice writing and handwriting, my teacher and I would write letters to each other every week. There, a burning passion was born.
I started writing more as I got older. In the fifth grade, I created a ghost story, where the ghost problem was resolved by the character paying an astronomical amount of money to get rid of it. I look back at it now and say, “Oh my god, what was I thinking?” I laugh at how ridiculous it was. Of course, an 11-year-old would think all problems can be solved with money! But I was incredibly proud at the time. I even went the extra mile to include word art pictures, print it out, laminate it, and give it to my teacher. It’s almost embarrassing to think about it now. It was so terrible, and I thought it was so good. Today, I use this story to remind myself that no one is amazing at their passion the first time around. You just have to keep going.
In the sixth grade, one of the popular girls at school asked me to write a story for her where she and the boy she liked got together. Oh geez! I had a crush on the same boy! Despite that, I agreed because I was hoping that writing it would get me in with the cool kid crowd. That never happened, but it did help get me into the romance genre, a genre I adore.
As I grew up, my love for writing romance grew. I was inspired by shows like One Tree Hill, where I was more invested in the relationships between the characters than I was in the plot. I stuck with it because it was a genre that I knew I could write and make it to the end of the story with ease. I’d camp out in my living room and write until my hand cramped up. Just like that, I found my niche.
I could always count on my parents’ support in everything I pursued. When I would write, my father would always check up on me, asking how many words I had written so far. I wanted to make him proud, so I kept writing.
Despite my love for writing, I didn’t pursue it at first in college. I was trying to think realistically in starting a career I could live off, so I first went to school for forensic science. What an awful decision! I hated science, so why did I think I’d be happy in the program? I must have watched the show Bones too many times and thought I could do it. But I was wrong, very wrong. After my first day of classes, I broke down because I was so miserable. My parents told me that if I wasn’t happy, I shouldn’t be there. I dropped out and transferred to a closer college. I stayed undeclared for a year before deciding to pursue English, knowing I’d be happier, after all.
At first, the program was overwhelming. I had never shared my personal writing before besides the ghost story in the fifth grade. Any works I shared were mainly for literary assignments, not my own creative writing. I wasn’t sure if the program was the right place for me because of this obstacle. I had doubts, especially after taking an online creative writing course where I felt like no one understood my writing. Things looked up when I got into the face-to-face creative writing classes. I feel more connected with my classmates, and received good, constructive feedback on my creations.
Though I had a thirst for love stories, I haven’t had much personal experience. I think that naivety has helped me write stronger romances. I also know that no one will ever live up to my high expectations I’ve created for myself from my stories.
I spent 2015 writing a romance novel called Step Toward You. It was based off events in my life I was dealing with. The story is about the female protagonist dealing with her mother dying and the male protagonist helping her feel hope about life again despite his own personal demons. In my real life that year, we were told my grandpa didn’t have long to live. Within minutes of receiving the news, I got a call telling me I had thyroid cancer. Between my grandpa and my cancer, I had this fear of death that was enveloping me. I needed a place to let out my fears, and I did so on the page through this story. Luckily, the cancer was in the nodule that had been removed in surgery.
After finishing the novel, I started sending it out to publishers. It had sentimental importance to me, so I wanted it to get out there for others to read. I decided to be bold with the first submission. I sent my query to the agent of Stephanie Meyers’ (the author of Twilight). I anticipated her response, checking the mail each day. I was so nervous. When I finally received an answer, I tore open the letter with excitement and shaky hands. I read the first line, and my heart sank. I had been rejected. The disappointment was heavy, but I was also happy to have gotten a letter signed by such an important agent.
I spent the next year sending my novel out to publishers with no luck. I’d receive rejections left and right. I encouraged myself to stay hopeful. Instead of being upset, I celebrated the rejections because I felt that if I kept getting rejected, it meant that I was at least trying.
Rejection seemed to be the default I’d gotten used to, so when I finally received a “yes,” I was joyfully shocked. I couldn’t believe it! Someone wanted to publish me! I looked up more information about the publisher and that was when the high of the “yes” deflated. The publishing company was sketchy and didn’t seem like a good place to give my book to. I declined their offer even though it was the hardest email to write. I feared that I had missed my one chance at being published. What if that was my only chance?
It wasn’t, thankfully. A few months later, in September of 2017, my manuscript was accepted by a small publisher, Inkspell Publishing. This time it was decent. I had finally been accepted! I was walking in a happy daze the day I got the news. All my hard work paid off! I could hardly hold my excitement.
Getting published was the ultimate early graduation gift for myself. In December of 2017, I graduated with two degrees, in both English and library informatics.
In February of 2018, Step Toward You was digitally published by Inkspell Publishing. For their new writers, publications start out digitally. If enough copies are sold within the first three months, they will print it. Though I didn’t quite reach that goal, I’ve stayed hopeful for my future and I’ll never stop trying. With the same publisher, I’m also getting a novella published through an anthology they are releasing, which will be in print.
I’m slowly making my way into the publishing world, and I’m thrilled to immerse myself even more. At the moment, I’m also dipping my toes into the idea of self-publishing. I plan to take one of the stories I wrote in college and self-publish it. My parents have been firm supporters of my writing career for years. Dad, especially, has been educating himself on self-publishing since I began writing novels. Together, we’ll break it through.
Through my parents and the calling of my dream, I found the courage to push beyond my shyness and fears to pursue what I truly loved. I was afraid to share my writing with the world at first, but I’m not afraid anymore. I find strength through sharing with others—although the idea of my grandma reading erotic scenes from my novels terrifies me! I believe that if you’re passionate about something, you can’t easily give up. If you’re meant to do something, it will work itself out. Rejection is expected. You must draw strength from the rejections and keep trying. It’s an amazing feeling to be a published author, but I’m not done yet. Let’s continue.
This is the story of Elizabeth Gauck
Elizabeth (Liz) currently lives in Independence, Kentucky with her parents. From a young age, Liz was interested in writing, but didn’t make it into a career until her college years. She now has an e-book published and has a novella coming out soon. Her parents are her best friends. If it wasn’t for them and especially her dad, she may not have stuck with her novel writing. Liz loves to read, go hiking with her dog Hero, and go on mini-road trips. She loves Shakespeare, especially A Midsummer Night’s Dream. During college, she was also involved in a literary magazine called Loch Norse for three years. Liz hopes to self-publish her next novel. Her books are published under the penname Liz Ashlee. You can buy and read her book, Step Toward You, here.
This story first touched our hearts on May 23, 2018.
| Writer: Kristen Petronio | Editor: Manqing Jin |