May 292019

The other day I was asked the question “how did I do it?” in relation to becoming a successful writer and it made me pause.

I modestly said “it just happened” but, much like overnight successes, it never just happens and my journey has been a trying one. Trying because I was impatient, persistent and too often told it wouldn’t happen for me and then, somehow, it did!

Though I’m not yet a best selling author like I envisioned, and am still eager to be, I am measuring my success by having readers and lots of them. I know I had made it because when I answered the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” and at the age of five answered “a writer and a teacher” I was write.

Some teachers encouraged me throughout school though I have had teachers who discouraged, too, saying no one writes for a living anymore and saying they didn’t understand my poetry or essays but that added fuel to my fire. I found other ways to enter into contests and while that particular poem didn’t win, years later a short story did.

What was also interesting is when I applied for a journalist job with a Moncton newspaper I was told no because I didn’t have the credentials of a journalist. Then I applied for a free paper, not requiring a degree, I was told my writing was more in line with the newspaper. Like applying for your first job, what do you put on your resume for experience, I struggled to find my place but kept writing.

I now have several books that people read and enjoy, articles in business magazines, an article in the upcoming Maritime [EDIT] issue, getting paid for writing book reviews (in books and money) for AH! At Home on the North Shore and now I am a regular contributor to our local newspaper, The Pictou Advocate.

All this to say, I just kept asking, writing, practicing, and trying. The plenty of times I heard the word “no” only made me eager to hear a yes and you can only hear that if you keep asking.

So my advice to everyone, no matter the passion, is to keep going. Let your rejections make you fight harder to prove those who passed on you regret doing so as you will make it if it’s what you were born to do.

Thanks for reading and continuing,

Sarah Butland

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