I put on my big girl pants a long time ago, leaving behind my childhood toys but not my dreams. Although I spin stories, I am a hard-hearted realist most of the time so I know well that beautiful roses have their thorns that may stick, even draw blood without warning. I know that the prettiest apple may hide a worm.
I'm not famous but a growing number of people know my work as a writer. That is a good thing and I enjoy a little basking in the glow of a few compliments and the cockles of my heart are warmed by encouragement.
But there is always a flip side.
I am fast learning that among the well-wishers, the fans, the family and friends who cheer me on in my writing endeavors that are always going to be a few nay sayers. Whether their antipathy results from bitter grapes or envy or just old-fashioned meaness doesn't matter but I am heartily tired of people who say things that include:
"Well, they're just ebooks, right?" "Oh, you write romance" (the last word spit out with such force that it might as well be "manure" or a less polite word for the same, as if romance were the bastard stepchild at the family reunion), "You're so full of yourself" or "Did you pay to have that published?"
I could list all the reasons why ebooks are quite respectable these days or mention how romance commands a very large share of the fiction market or how I am truly quite humble at what success I have gained or say with honesty that I have not and never will pay to have my work published but I think all of the above goes without saying.
What I will say, however, to anyone who doesn't know me is this:
You may know my work or even my face. You may think that you know me from Facebook or my weekly column but you don't. You have no idea what my background is or how far I have come from the old inner city neighborhood that spawned me. You have no clue how long and hard I have worked to reach this point where I now stand or how much I want to keep moving onward and upward. You don't know the personal tragedies that I have endured in life, everything from losing loved ones to being left homeless by a natural disaster. You don't know the times that I haven't had money to go out for coffee or the times I have lain awake nights wondering how I will pay bills that are coming due. You don't know the strong, tough, resilent people who raised me or the daily struggles that I still face each day. Maybe you don't know or care about the struggle to remain cheerful in the face of my elderly mother's decline, her memory issues and more. Perhaps you have no idea that raising children in today's world can be difficult although I doubt it is more so than in any other era. You may not realize how I strip my soul to write, how I give of my innermost, deepest thoughts and secrets so that my characters may live and breathe.
Maybe some of you know Jack but you may not know me.
For those who know me, if only through my written words, then I ask that you celebrate with me, dance the happy dance and fuel the fires of ambition so that I continue to move ahead, that I don't fail or grow weary, that I continue to give.
That I remember that naysayers and detractors are, as Shakespeare wrote, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
I resolve to focus on the roses, not the thorns and to wait for the sunshine to return even in the heaviest rain.