So I grew up with this kid Johnny Madsen. We weren't ever close friends, mostly because he was a really cute boy, and as a boy crazy girl, that meant I didn't ever talk to boys.
Anyhow, I remember Johnny Madsen often because of my fifth grade teacher. One day in class she asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. Everyone raised their hand and said things like, I want to be a doctor, or a firefighter, or a mom. I raised my hand to say that I...the girl with frizzy hair and glasses wanted to become a movie star. Luckily for me, the teacher picked on Johnny Madsen before she picked me. Because Johnny said he wanted to be in the NFL.
The teacher, (I don't remember her name, but I do remember her really horrible haircut.) then proceeded to explain why that dream was foolish. She said that in classrooms all around the country there were kids dreaming of becoming professional athletes, or actors, or singers, and it just wasn't going to happen for ninety-nine percent of them. For most of those kids, she said, the closest they are going to get to being in the NFL is to watch it on TV. Then she looked pointedly at Johnny and said, "Do you really think you are one in a million special?"
I remember this, because Johnny, this tall scrawny kid with a mess of black shiny hair and gorgeous eyes, got royally mad at the teacher. He was usually pretty quiet, but on this day, the normally soft spoken Johnny he basically yelled at the teacher and told her she was mean and dumb and wrong.
After she sent him to the principal's office, she looked around the room, "So how about the rest of you," she asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
My hand stayed hidden under my desk.
I thought about her often, this nameless teacher with a bad haircut, as her voice told me that I was wasting my time trying to become something special. I thought about her as I got discouraged, and I thought about her after I receive a vicious rejection.
What was I doing? "Do you really think YOU are one in a million special?"
And then I think about Johnny Madsen. That picture...right up there...that's of him playing in the NFL. (Click here to check him out )
Now it's true, not everybody who dreams get to wake up and realize that they are living their dream. But some people do.
But the fact is, it's not something that you just wake up to make happen. As I worked toward publication, I thought about the hours and effort Johnny had to put in at the gym to go from that scrawny kid to that hulking giant. I thought about the hours he spent on the field, the practices, the injuries, the hits he had to stand up and walk away from. He could have quit at anytime, but he didn't. So I didn't quit either. The most important thing you can develop is the stubbornness it takes to go from one in a million who dream, to become one of the few who are ready to become selected.
You can't choose if you will ever be "drafted" so to speak. But you can show up. You can practice. You can prepare, and hopefully when the day comes you will be ready to say, "Pick me, Pick me."
Really, I don't think the odds are one and a million. I think it's much closer to fifty fifty. It'll either happen, or it won't. Fifty fifty.
But it'll be your choice if you're ready.
So Ms...whatever your name is, I, Sheena Boekweg, want to be an author.
And guess what? It's actually happened.
It's possible for you too!
Sheena Boekweg is a former slush editor, blogger, and theatre nerd who's watched every Marvel movie in the last ten years and has strong opinions on Star Wars. She's an alumni of the Pitch Wars mentoring program 2015 and mentored in 2017 and 2018. Her novel Glitch Kingdom will press start February 18, 2020 from Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends. She lives in Utah with her family and the world's most spoiled puppy.
LINKS: Twitter - @SheenaBoekweg
Instagram - @SheenaBoekweg
Facebook - SheenaBoekweg- YA Author
Website - www.boekwegbooks.com
TABC 2020 Workshop
LEVEL UP YOUR WRITING BY PLAYING VIDEO GAMES
Playing video games can make you a better writer! In this class, we'll talk about how to apply what you've learned from grinding points, character selections, and fighting Big Bads into making unputdownable books that are as addictive as Candy Crush. This is a working class, so bring your laptops or notebooks (game controllers will be provided).