Alexandra the Great: The Story of the Record-Breaking Filly Who Ruled the Racetrack represents the first book I wrote from an idea I had and pursued. I had
had several other ideas or topics that appealed to me, but that I had dropped. My doubts always overpowered my energy. And this project was no different. I started out on this project with no guarantee that it would ever materialize. Who was I to write a book? What did I know about racehorses? How was I going to pay the bills while I pursued this pipe dream?
In the end, I succeeded because I never looked too far down the road. I took it one step at a time. Don’t know anyone in the racehorse industry? Call Lexington, KY’s, visitor’s bureau. Didn’t find the people I wanted to meet at the races? Figure out another way to meet them. Feeling overwhelmed by the impossibility of finishing this project? Remind myself of all the people who gave me their time and imagine facing them to tell them I’d dropped the project.
I focussed on the parts I could control. For me that included researching and interviewing people. It also included working on the craft of writing. I had joined Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) a few years earlier, but now I went to conferences, not just in Illinois but in Wisconsin and Missouri. Along the way I met other non-fiction writers and we talked shop. I submitted my manuscript for critique every chance I got. I joined a critique group. I read about writing. A Lot.
I vowed to not think about trying to get the book published until I had a polished manuscript. Some would say I had it backward, by not worrying about the publishing process, but it worked for me. Until I felt confident that I would not be a cautionary tale from editors — you know when editors tell you not to send things like glitter in your package, or to make sure you spell their name correclty? They say those things because they have happened. So until I felt confident that that would not be me, I did not think about approaching editors.
And now that the book will be coming out soon, I feel so proud that I can repay all the people who helped me along the way with a gorgeous object, a record of this magnificent filly’s exploits. I recently read a great definition of success: you set a goal and you achieve it. So, no matter what happens next, Alexandra the Great represents a success. I set out to write her story and I did.