The Funny Thing About Writing a Children’s Book about Being Fearless
I woke up in the middle of the night from a dream with a crystal-clear book idea. I’m not someone who remembers her dreams. This was truly unique.
I quickly wrote down the concept in my phone and tried to go back to sleep.
I had been a part of a conversation with a group of Latinas that day. The restlessness of that discussion filled my body. Amazing, strong Latinas afraid and unsure about how to ask for more money, how to create a prosperous path.
The next day, I began writing the first book draft in my Fearless Rocky Rivera series.
The truth is, I was going through a challenging time in my life. I was coming apart at the seams and didn’t know how to stop the unraveling.
I’ve done such a great job of bulldozing through everything in my life. I was a mom at 18, ignoring my feelings was survival. I didn’t want to have to deal with the angst inside me. I didn’t want to face the shame, betrayals, and insecurities that were holding me back.
My dream that night told me otherwise. It called me to remember the tough, play-filled, will-do-anything spirit of my childhood. That girl was fearless. She literally jumped from trees, off the roof of houses, and once off a bridge in Yosemite Park. I love that little girl.
But, that little girl grew up in a society that thrives on instilling fear. Especially in women. Especially in women of color.
We can’t walk by ourselves at night, too dangerous. We can’t speak our minds, too intimidating. We can’t have high expectations, too demanding.
I don’t want to shed what I know I must let go of. Fear.
The writing process gives me no choice but to shed. I wrote a draft quickly, got an editor. Took a class. I spent months writing, learning, writing some more. I then spent months paralyzed.
The funny thing about writing about a fearless girl, is that it forced me to confront my fears. I need to be as courageous as my character, Rocky.
Her voice will not be out in the world, unless I make it happen.
So, I write and rewrite my query letter and writing sample. I do my homework to find agents that will be interested in my concept. Paralysis hits once more.
What if no one want to represent me? What if it’s not good enough? What if all the agents reject me? What if, what if, what if?
I get off my “what if’s” and one day send out my materials to the top prospect on my list. I call my agent submission folder, “Find me an AGENT!!!” because I need to declare my intention.
I realize that being fearless is not being unafraid, but acting despite the fear.
A dear friend told me once that she admired my resilience. It bothered me at first. I took it as, “you fail so much, but you always get up and keep going”. I struggle with the fear of failure. I don’t want my failure called out. I know “failing” has become a new buzz word. For me, it seems like a luxury I’m not allowed to possess.
The irony is that I have delved into the world of book publishing, which is built on failure. Of course.
But, the more I talk about my writing with others-especially people of color-the more I hear the stories. I hear people tell me they want to write. I hear people explain wonderful stories they have already written. I hear excitement and possibility. “If she is doing it, I can too”.
This isn’t about me. I began writing to support a movement for more diversity in children’s books. Most Latinx children don’t read at grade level. I want us to ignite an urgency to change this reality.
I remember my mom once told me that books changed her life. She grew up extremely poor in rural Texas. Books were her escape. Her portal to dream.
I’m still scared every time I hit the send button on an email to a prospective agent. I’ve only sent three queries in the last month.
But, I can feel the fearless muscle strengthening. I know I’m getting closer to my dream. I’m modeling that shedding fear is a process.
Failure and rejection are inevitable. Embrace it. Accept it. Learn to love it.