by Jordan O’Halloran
I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I had a vivid imagination and loved visiting the library. Checking out books with dragons, wizards, and everything in between filled my head with different worlds. I got excited thinking that I could write my own worlds which began my obsession with everything stationery. In my mind, the more journals I had, the more serious a writer I could be.
I was wrong.
If I wanted to be a writer, I needed to write.
I went to school to be a teacher because it felt like something safe to do, but my favorite assignments were always the ones where I would write. My final project in college was a story I had written and still have on my Google Drive. I graduated and I didn’t think much of it. My friend was always telling me to write a book, but I never believed her. I made excuses not to write—the biggest being, not having time. As someone who used to equate my self-worth with getting stuff done, I always found excuses to do something else. Like cleaning my room, doing laundry, exercising, and meal planning. Truly, anything else.
The excuses continued and so did my life. I went on living as a teacher’s assistant and all of my other lives distractions. That was until one day in 2018, I went to a writer’s workshop and was instantly hooked again. I began writing a fiction story about a girl with bipolar disorder like me. The more and more I wrote, the bigger parallels became between me and her. I knew that I had some issues that I had to work through in my own life, but I never knew a fiction story would be an answer. I couldn’t stop. Writing became an addiction. I would stay awake until 3 AM, my mania telling me that I needed to get it all done.
That mania led me to apply to the Santa Barbara Writers Conference for a scholarship through the advice of a friend. Lo and behold, I got it! I won Best Fiction of that entire conference back in 2018. A loud voice came into my head telling me, ‘Hey! You’re pretty good at this. Keep going.’
I kept going. I kept writing about my own experiences. How certain things in my life had happened, but I hadn’t fully dealt with them. So, I kept going. I cried a lot while writing because, at times, I was taken back to certain difficult moments. I have gone to therapy and while it was helpful for a while, I began realizing that I needed to shift my focus to something healthier. More growing and less resentful of what happened to me. I knew that I had to continue writing because it felt good to put my story out there. Bu disguising it as fiction, I was able to experience it all through the eyes of someone else even if it wasn’t a real person. I could also give them a happy ending.
By the end of my first draft, I was a mess. Sending my manuscript to editors made me feel completely vulnerable. But I knew I had to. I wrote query letters hoping to find an agent but never found any luck—even with over 40 of them. So, I decided to self-publish. I didn’t want to have to take things out of my own story that I spent time on. As a writer, your characters become part of your psyche and you think about them every day. I always say that my characters feel like family, especially the main one. Every time I give my book out, it feels like a piece of my soul is being put on display. All I can do is hope for the best.
My book has been out since December 2021 and remains my biggest accomplishment. I teach writing classes every Saturday in my small county. I sell my books at local events and mail signed copies to people who are interested. There are still hard days of memories and my brain wants to be loud. Nothing is sunshine and rainbows every day. However, I know I put my heart out there and couldn’t be more proud of myself.
If you have an idea for a story or simply want to start writing, go for it! The world needs what makes you you.