One year ago today I released my debut novel, The Rise of Delilah. I cannot believe a whole year has passed already, so today I'm going to reflect on my journey to becoming an author, as well as acknowledging all of those who have helped me along the way,
One of the most frequently asked questions I get is "How did you know you wanted to be an author?" And my answer to this question has never changed. Growing up I didn't want to be an author. I didn't even want to do anything that required me to sit behind a desk and type all day (and all night). I was always good at English in school, in fact, it was my favourite subject, but the thought of writing books never crossed my mind. Now don't get me wrong, I've always been a book nerd. I've always loved going to the library and I've always loved reading as many different books as I can, in fact now I practically have my own library in my bedroom. But not once did I ever say "You know what, I'm going to be an author." Growing up I was always changing my mind about what I was going to do once I left high school. I wanted to be a vet or a zoologist, a photographer, a teacher, a dog groomer, a criminologist and a wrestler (yes, there was a time I wanted to be a wrestler). In fact, I was in the middle of my teaching degree when I had my first major breakdown. I hated what I was studying, I hated the thought of being a teacher, so much to the dismay of my family, I quit. I threw in the towel and I left university. I then spent the next few years trying to figure out what I was going to do, and then I went to a new university a started a new degree. I began my degree in Theatre and Drama.
Right before I began my degree I spent the day with one of my friends (Hi, Bianca!). I can't remember what we were talking about, but I remember it was raining and I made a joke about wanting to write a book. After I dropped Bianca off I was driving home and I started noticing ideas forming in my head. All of a sudden a novel came out of nowhere and during my first six months at uni I smashed out my first manuscript. This manuscript was the first thing I had ever written that didn't require me to have a set word count or a set structure, and it is the manuscript that changed my whole life. After I finished that novel I started working on a second one when the idea for Delilah and her journey came to me, so during my second year of university, I wrote the Delilah books.
I was juggling uni and writing, but I loved it. I loved the people I got to see every day at uni, I loved the things I was being taught and I loved how different the experience was for me. And I loved that my creativity got to grow and I could nurture it along the way. Now at the time, my grand plan was to move to Los Angeles and work towards becoming an actress. I had even set a date to move and I was in the process of getting a visa, but I was editing The Rise of Delilah and something hit me. I had to pick between being an actor and being an author. There was simply no room to do both, I had to commit to one and go for it with everything I had.
I thought "Great I've just spent all this time and money to get a degree that is now useless," but do you know what? It's not useless. Because I passed every unit, I made life-long friends and I learned so much about myself and who I am as a person that regretting those two and a half years would be a mistake.
I was being pulled towards being an author, so after much consideration, I made the decision to work non-stop to becoming just that. I can't even begin to explain how much this novel has changed my life. It truly saved me. Before writing the Delilah duo I was in a very dark place. I had no hope for my future and to be perfectly honest, I wanted out of life. I was having suicidal thoughts multiple times a day and I had all but given up. But in those moments when I didn't want to be alive I would write, and then I would finish a chapter and I'd feel accomplished, so I kept going. Within six months I had written two novels and my mindset was shifting. I had found my purpose and I knew I had found the dream worth fighting for.
I just happen to be able to string words together well enough to write novels, and I'm thankful every single day that I found what I needed to do with my life before it was too late. I wrote these novels when I was going through the roughest patch of my life. I had a severe ankle injury which required a full ankle reconstruction, I was at university studying full-time, I was involved in countless shows that required me to be in a theatre for hours upon hours, I had developed a wrist injury, I was severely depressed and my anxiety was skyrocketing. I was in and out of doctors’ offices, I had to go to therapy and I had to make sure I was doing all of my uni homework. I was overwhelmed beyond belief. But through it all, I continued writing. I sometimes wonder how I actually managed to get through all of that and still write two novels, but I did. I never once failed a unit throughout my degree and I even graduated early. So when you think you cannot fight for your dream or you’re not strong enough to do so, remind yourself of all the things you've done. You'll be surprised to see just how strong you really are.
So now that I've rambled on and on, I have some people I want to thank. These people have heard me thank them before, and I'm sure they're sick of it, but they deserve all of the recognition they get.
To my family (my brothers, grandparents and my cousins), thank you. Thank you for never giving up on me and loving me when I was not loveable. Thank you for fighting to save me and for accepting what I wanted to do with my life. Thank you for supporting me when I wanted to try different things and for supporting me when I knew being an author is what I wanted to be more than anything else in the world. And to my parents, I have no words for you, other than I love you and I'm so damn proud to be your daughter. You are both the greatest parents ever and I wouldn't want anyone else to stand by my side as I continue to fight for my dreams.
To my friends (you all know who you are), I love you. Seriously, I love you all so much. I know a few of you have seen what my depression and anxiety has done to me, but you never left my side and I am forever grateful that I have people like you in my life.
A special shout out to Rhi, you are one of my very best friends and you have been there for me through my darkest days. Your friendship means so much to me.
And to Jo-mo. (aka Jon), you're the best guy friend I could ever ask for. You've had to be there for me when I wanted my life to end but you never stopped trying to help me see just how much I had to fight for. You're the best friend that became family.
To Tess and Karen, I don't even know what to say. You two are the sole reason why I'm where I am today. Thank you for your guidance and for helping me see that I could be an author when I thought I was purely chasing an illusion. I am so lucky that I get to have amazing authors to talk to when I want to give up.
To my editor Georgina, you are the best! Seriously, you are. You've always been straightforward with me and you've never told me things that I didn't need to hear. I needed honesty and you gave me that. You started off as just being my editor but you're now a friend and I cannot wait to work with you again.
To Dani Orlando, thank you for creating my book covers. You created magic from my terrible mocks and you helped me transition into being an author. You helped open so many doors for me and I absolutely loved working with you (and thank you, Luke, for helping out with the second book cover :P).
To Helen, I don't know if you'll read this, but I think about you and your brother every day. Meeting you has stuck with me and I'll never forget the things you said to me. Thank you for telling me your story and for sharing your pain with me. It is something I won't ever stop thinking about.
To my doctor and my therapist who both saved my life, thank you will never be enough. I got so lucky to be able to have the two of you in my support team. Both of you have gone above and beyond your duty of care to help me and my family and I are so grateful for you both.
To Delilah Walker (yes, it does feel weird to acknowledge a fictional character :P), thank you. You came into my life when I was convinced it was all but over. I hope I did you and your story justice.
I'm sure I've forgotten people, I'm so sorry if I have! But to my readers, my God I love you guys. You have made my dreams come true and I will never be able to thank you for all of your support and love. Without readers, authors are nothing. Thank you for welcoming Delilah into your lives. I owe you all so much.
To end this all, I just want to say I don't write for money, or for any other reason other than it being the thing that keeps me alive. It is my passion, it's always on my mind and I never get sick of coming up with novel ideas and developing characters. As long as my readers enjoy the stories that I tell, then I'm successful. Finding your passion isn't easy, and you'll go through a million different things before you truly find what you're meant to do with your life.
Who you're destined to become is written out for you long before you'll realise it, some people are lucky enough to find it when they're young, and some aren't, but either way being happy and loving what you do (even when the world tells you you'll fail) is worth more than settling for security.
So I say go find what makes you feel alive and fight for it with every ounce of strength that you have, because as cliché as it is, the best things in life don't come easily, but I promise you they're worth it.
Here's to the next chapter! Cheers.
Below are some images from my time at uni (with the people who made my journey amazing) and some photos from the first year of my novel being out.