Site icon Jennifer Ann Schlag

My Journey as an Author (Part 1)

I want to take people through my journey as an author. All of the struggles, the happy moments, and everything in between that. Storytelling has been a part of my life since I was born. From music, movies, and books galore, I was surrounded by stories. And as a toddler I often dreamt up my own worlds and the crazy things that happened in them. I have a very active imagination that never stops. But back then it wasn’t clear to me that I should be a storyteller. I was quite fascinated with movies and I read more than the average kid, but that’s because I liked stories. It was when I got a little older that I developed a real passion for writing down what I imagined my movies would be. I actually went through a period of wanting to be an archeologist and a scientist. Science was always my favorite subject and I became obsessed with being an explorer and wanting to travel (Indiana Jones may be to blame for that lol). Still, I always returned to filmmaking. I wanted to be involved in theater at school, but I didn’t want to act in the plays. I wanted to direct them. When I asked my parents to let me go to film school, they did not support me. They said it would amount to nothing. I tried to convince them. I failed.

In my teens I had written one page horror stories and my mom enjoyed reading them. I was very graphic for a young teen. In middle school, we had to write a story about an alien. I wrote a lot and some of my fellow students stopped at the computer I was sitting at to read it. One even said there is something wrong with me (lol). I suppose people said the same thing about Stephen King, who is my favorite author. In my early 20s, I took up screenwriting. I learned everything about it. I read professional screenplays, which led me to write Goval: Parallel Destiny. Actually, I did write a screenplay before that, but when I went to England for the first time, inspiration for Goval came, and that was the first professional looking screenplay I wrote. I was hooked. I was cemented in the dream of being a filmmaker/screenwriter.

I tried once more to convince my parents to let me go to film school. They said no. I lost all interest in writing. Imagine having all of your dreams smashed at once. Years flew by and around the age of 30, I returned to writing. I had backstories to the four main characters in Goval which extended beyond a paragraph. I kept hearing about novels being turned into movies (Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings). I thought, “Heck, why not?” I took those backstories and rode with them. Goval, at the heart of it all. That is what it is my Magnum Opus. It’s everything that makes me a writer. While preparing screenplay Goval for novel Goval, I began writing a story about vampires. I figured Twilight ruined the vampire franchise; I can save it. Honestly, I read the Twilight books and watched the movies and I am convinced there were no vampires in that series. And you can hate me for saying it, because I know there are hard-core fans of Twilight. But I wouldn’t expect everyone to love my books or the ones I like to read over and over, so don’t hate on me because I don’t love the ones you do. The backstories to Goval took on their own story. I decided to write a full-length novel for them. Serve it up as a prequel. A teaser. I called it The Tortured Four. It seemed fitting since the four characters were being tortured by their powers. I finished the novel version of Goval, but I felt it wasn’t ready to be received. Night First: The Divinity of Damien Calla, my vampire-like novel was ready. I published Night First. Then came Goval’s chance to shine.

I was very excited to publish a book. I couldn’t be more grateful to Amazon for allowing writers to publish books through them. If ever we lost Amazon’s KDP, there’s other places to publish books, but no other platform to sell them. Barnes and Noble may never get rid of their self-publishing platform, but Amazon is where everyone is making the big money. Anyway, I was excited and felt I’m going to make this happen. I will be successful while I’m still fairly young and I’ll be financially independent. I’ll write all day. It’ll be fantastic. Until…

Tragedy struck. Hard. I lost my father in 2015. He had medical issues before that. He lost a leg due to smoking for 40 years. It developed PAD- Peripheral Artery Disease. It’s a build-up of plaque on the arteries. He also had mesothelioma from working in the city and being exposed to asbestos. Then he developed COPD and emphysema. It was rough seeing him in a wheelchair when this was a man who was on his feet all day, dancing, and singing. It aged him badly. I saw him losing hope. Drinking himself into the grave. He then got cancer. They say no two people die of cancer the same way. My father’s body fought it. He had color in his face, a high fever. His immune system was fighting cancer the night before he died. The body doesn’t want to die. It’s why we fear death. We know it’s the end. We don’t know what lies beyond that, if anything does. It was the most unsettling thing to that date for me to watch. To see my father the last time before he died and to know that he was fighting to live. And I felt him die. There was a moment during the morning when everything stopped. I paused in my life. Between 2010 and 2015, I fell into the biggest depression ever. Between dealing with him in a wheelchair and being stressed about it, my health suffered. And there were times I wanted to stop writing. It didn’t help that a year before my father died, my mother went into cardiac arrest. I thought she was gone. Somehow someone brought her back and she recovered. And then my mother died of cancer in 2018. I truly hated my 30s. It was the worst time of my life. And yet, I would like to go back to being 30. Maybe I could change things. That old saying, “If we knew then what we know now”. Yeah.

After losing my parents, I really thought I had time to make my author career flourish. I thought the same thing when they were alive. If I had learned about marketing and grew a fanbase while they were alive, maybe I would be successful today. Maybe I wouldn’t have to be working where I am now, and I could be sitting in my house writing my books and making a lot of money like other authors do. Maybe I would have my house fixed up too. Everything in my life is crumbling. My author career is shit. It’s going nowhere. What can I do to change that? Part of being successful is having confidence that you can be, and determination that you will be. I lack the confidence, but I am determined to be. But I think being 100% committed to it is the real key to success. This is where I am right now. I am behind on my publishing. I had planned to release dozens of books a year. I am only now finishing the Divinity of Damien Calla. The first book was published in 2016. Countless others are missing their sequels too. What seemed easy before is not easy now. I need to change that. I need to change it all.

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