S.A. Cassell, founder
I’ll never forget the first time I met an author in person. I was in elementary school and Barbara Robinson came to speak at a local event. My mom and I stood patiently in line to ask her to sign our copy of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I was in awe, thinking: “She gets paid to write stories. It’s her job.” I was in awe. Right then and there I knew that I wanted to become an author, too.
But even though I knew in my heart of hearts that I was born to be a writer, I spent the next fifteen years doubting my dreams.
Because I was afraid. What if no one wants to read my stories? Or worse—what if they do read them and make fun of me? A little voice of uncertainty whispered into my ear.
Fear take root inside me. Suddenly the fears were growing, sprouting into new doubts and panic until eventually I believed that I would never be an author.
I still enjoyed writing, yes, but I started to see it as more of a hobby. My stories were just silly lines scribbled in notebooks meant only for me to see. My pragmatic mind convinced me that I could never make writing my actual career.
When it came time to apply to college, I was really struggling with what to select as a major. As I began to tour campuses, I put down English—the most broad and versatile degree I could possibly think of (because, let’s face it, I wasn’t doing anything that required complex math).
On my visit to Ohio University, the tour guide was in route to show me the English department, when he said something that changed my life: “On your left is the Scripps School of Journalism, one of the top journalism writing programs in the country.”
DING! The light bulb went off.
Journalism! Journalism is writing. Why hadn’t I ever though of that before? So many characters I loved were journalists—Sabrina Spellman from Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Andi Anderson from How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (it was early 2000’s, people. Cut me a break)–I couldn’t believe the idea never crossed my mind until the tour guide said it.
I knew the program was fairly selective. I believed if I got into OU’s Scripps School of Journalism, that it would be a sign. A sign that I really was destined to be a writer.
The day my acceptance letter arrived in the mail was one of the happiest days of my life. A little spark in my heart ignited, burning away the weeds of fear.
I think I entered journalism at an exciting time. The digital era was starting to boom—and businesses were starting to see the important role storytelling played in their digital content. Marketing teams started to see the strengths journalists and strong writers brought to their teams.
Early on in my career, I paused to reflect about the moments when I was the happiest. It didn’t take long to find the common thread: I was happiest when I was creating.
I injected writing into my jobs whenever possible. Need someone to write a blog? Happy to! An email campaign? No problem, I’ll have a draft to you on Thursday.
Blogs and short form writing were wonderful, but still, my heart knew something was missing. My fingers longed for a bigger project, one where I could spend more time with my subject matter.
I was itching to write chapters. I was itching to develop plot twists. I was itching to build worlds and enchant their forests with magical beings.
So I did the bravest thing I could possibly do: I listened to my heart.
I told myself that I was a writer. I said it with such confidence and purpose that I had no choice but to believe in myself. That summer, I enrolled in Vermont College of Fine Arts’ Writing for Children and Young Adults program, and committed myself to making my dream a reality.
Writing a novel isn’t a walk in the park—but I’m more committed than ever to pursuing my passion.
So. Here goes nothing.
“There was nowhere to go by everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.” —Jack Kerouac, On the Road