• SJ Paquette

How I got started

When I was young, I loved to write. Mostly I’d write poetry that spoke to my life and whatever was happening around me at the time. I loved the flexibility of it. I could craft my words into whatever I wanted. Most of my poems were for my eyes only. However, I did have one published in my high school yearbook.

As I grew older, my path took me to Corporate America, where I began as a technical writer. Throughout my career I’ve had many communications and marketing roles, strategizing, executing, and ghost writing everything from newsletters to org announcements. While it wasn’t the creative writing that I loved as a kid, Corporate America, and all the companies that I’ve worked for, have helped me to be the marketer and the writer I am today. It’s been an incredible journey and I’ve learned so much! #forevergrateful

In 2018 I got the chance to ghost write a four-part blog series for an executive that I was supporting at the time. The topic was techy, but it was a pivotal moment for me. I loved everything about this project, from doing the research, interviewing the people, and crafting the story of the blog. The entire process ignited my love for creative writing once again, only this time I couldn’t ignore it.

In early 2020, just before COVID-19 hit, I had a call with a new leader at the company I worked. She asked me to tell her about myself. After telling her the boring stuff, I blurted out that on a personal level I had a dream of becoming a published author. The truth was I had been dreaming of it for years and I even had several story ideas. I told her about the blog project I had worked on, and how much it influenced me.

I’m not sure why I felt compelled to share my dream with her, but my comments piqued her interest. She asked a follow-on question how much have you written on your book? While her question was innocent, and I had been the one to open that door, I wasn’t fully prepared to answer. The truth was, at this point I had nothing. I was a little embarrassed.

Her question stuck with me and made me wonder if my dream, as beautiful as it was to me, was nothing more than a hope or fantasy. After all, it was 12 years since the idea for my first book came to me, yet I hadn’t written one single word of it. The encounter left me wondering if I even knew what it meant to become a published author, and if I was willing to do what I needed to make it a reality.

In late 2020, just before the height of COVID-19, I decided to take this dream of mine more seriously by dedicating time each day to writing. So, one morning in early October, I got up before dawn and began to write. I did this regularly, most days I was logging into my computer by 6:15 and writing until 8 am. Even though it was only about 90 minutes per day, I tried to do this daily. And if I wasn’t writing, I was doing something related to writing, like taking an online course or reading a how to book. Now, I can’t say I kept to that daily schedule like clockwork, but I did try to be consistent and tried not to skip too many days.

After months of doing this, I started to realize something was changing for me. I began to learn more about this new world I was venturing into, and I understood how everything I’ve learned in my career up to this point could help me on this new venture. But most importantly, I started to see my ideas come to life and my characters become people, and that was the best feeling!

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