Being an author is not about making money. It is not about being famous and writing autographs while hundreds of people wait in a line in front of your desk in some bookstore. It is not about getting called to lecture at colleges and universities around the country, nor is it about being stopped on the street by people who tell you that your books changed their lives.
If you are good and dedicated to your craft of writing, you can attain some or all of these. But being an author is first and foremost about being able to create worlds and completely new characters that inhabit those worlds. The same process is to me more like magic than anything else.
Today, when someone calls my name of Sally Hartnell, people tend to recognize me. My books and my additional work in the literary field made me both famous and successful. I am grateful for that more than I could ever express in words, in spite of the fact that I am a writer. But still, creating is always about making something where there was nothing. In this lies the essence of any art, including literary one and I was fortunate enough to understand this idea very early in my life when I was just a college freshman.
I always was interested in writing because my father was a journalist. I entered college believing that I would become the same thing, working all my life behind a typewriter in some newsroom. I was right about the typewriter, but fate had other plans for me. My literary teacher, for some reason, found me immensely talented and said this directly to me. She offered me a chance to write a simple short story and bet me $1 that it will get published.
I took on her bet and she was proven right
In less than a month, my story came out in a big national newspaper. She then wagered $2 that I would be able to publish a novel in one year. I accepted and started writing a strange mixture of a poetic novel combined with a historical research on a figure from our local region I always appreciated.
The second bet also was won by my teacher and the rest became history which transformed Sally Hartnell from a would-be journalist into a powerhouse of fictional writing. In the subsequent 30 years, I also took on a role of publishing, helping others attain a chance to become writers. Both jobs provide me with endless joy and happiness, but it is not always easy.
Having a very busy life
I often do not sleep in the same bed for more than two nights in a row, because my job takes me all over the country and regularly abroad as well. My single day can include lectures, book readings, media appearances and fan meetings, which easily last hours on end. In the last decade, movie adaptations also entered the fray, which provided me with even larger levels of success, but added a lot more frantic movement in my life.
For some meetings, I take a plane ride and come back home in a matter of 12 hours or less, which can be very exhausting. I am often so busy that I do not have the time to get breakfast or even lunch, which is very unhelpful, especially when my weight loss surgery is considered. For many years, I was overweight by this surgery and my trusty weight watchers helped me resolve this. But, no matter what types of problems can arise from my busy life, I find endless inspiration in my fans.
For example, recently a woman suffering from breast cancer came to one of my readings and we met after that. She told me her story and explained how my books keep her going and fighting cancer. It was one of the most moving tales I heard in my life and I was tearing up as she spoke. Yet, at the same time, I felt immensely blessed that my imaginary worlds and my words and those fictional characters that live inside of them can help people in real life.
Because of this, I tell my writers to always build worlds but to do this for the real people around them. This way, they can create beautiful art and help others live in this imperfect but incredible world of ours. Below are some more stories you might be interested in.