Throughout my life as a writer, I’ve been lucky to encounter so many people who have helped to shape my work. There was my high school English teacher Mr. Sabatini, who made me realize that I wanted to write, and my favorite college professor Ms. McKnight, who helped me hone my skills and find my own unique voice. There were countless classmates who offered valuable feedback, and my fellow literary magazine staffers who taught me to give valuable feedback. Of course, there are the readers of this blog and the places I’ve been published, who I hope I have been able to make some sort of impact on. However, there is one person I feel has been one of the most important people in both my personal life and my career: my incredible writing cheerleader Maria.
What exactly is a writing cheerleader? I think it is very similar to the Dawson’s Creek definition of a soulmate. It’s the person who understands you better than anyone else. She inspires you to push yourself to be the best writer you can be. Sometimes, she’s a sounding board for character names and possible plot ideas, and other times she’s just an eager reader, who can’t wait for the next chapter. She knows you, believes in you, and accepts you when no one else can or will. She picks you up when you get knocked down, believes in your work even when the door is slammed in your face, and, above all else, is the first one to remind you just how awesome you are even when you can’t see it. She the first call you make when you succeed, and she’s also the first call you make when you fail. You love her and know, no matter where your career goes, that will never ever change.
Personally, I know I would not be where I am today without my own writing cheerleader. When I started DeSales University in 2007, I didn’t expect to find a a best friend who would become my sister and my greatest support in my journey as writer. Yet, I found Maria. Over the course of a decade, I have shared with her pieces I’ve worked on, ideas for posts and projects, and my struggles of writer’s block and rejection. There are many pieces of mine she has read in their roughest states, and there are some pieces only she has had the honor of reading. When I went through getting rejected from a publication, she sent me a long text message to cheer me up at work and called me that night for one of her famous pep talks. She refuses to let me doubt myself or my talent, and, when I lose my faith in myself, she has enough faith for the both of us. Without her, I may have given up a long time ago. With her, I know I can achieve anything, and, if I fall, she’ll be right there to catch me.
Writing is a hard road. The craft is often a lonely act, born of solitude and unlocking one’s own mind. The industry is a dog-eat-dog world full of rejection, criticism, and hard knocks. Sometimes, we all just need to know that there is someone out there walking beside us, cheering on our successes and comforting us through our failures.
When you find that person, never let her go.
***This post is dedicated to my best friend and sister Maria. Happy birthday! Love ya, girlie.***