Finding Your Passion by Stephanie Burgis
I’ve always loved books about ambitious girls pursuing their passions, whether it’s the Fossil girls in Ballet Shoes fighting their way onto the stage, a young violinist playing her first big solo competition in Virginia Euwer Wolff’s The Mozart Season, or the members of the Babysitters’ Club forming their own successful business as kids.
It’s the kind of challenge that always resonated with me, because from the time I was seven years old, I had one overriding passion: I wanted to be a professional writer. I still remember making that world-shaking announcement to my mom in the car one day: “I’ve found something I love even more than reading: writing! I’m going to be a writer when I grow up!”
And I was determined from then on to make it happen, although I didn’t always know exactly what to write. I started out writing poetry and sold my first poem when I was seven – to a kids’ magazine that promptly folded before I ever got my payment (or publication). Talk about an ominous introduction to the life of a freelance writer! 😉 But I kept on going, switching to fiction instead of poetry in the wake of my epic Great Disappointment.
I was the kind of girl who curled up in the big sea captain’s trunk that my parents gave me, because I loved hiding inside it in the dark, reading by flashlight and imagining myself into the world of the books I devoured. I wanted so badly to create my own worlds for readers to sink into…but it was years before I was capable of actually doing it. I still remember one night when I was twelve, bursting into tears as I sat at the desk in my (yes, really!) attic bedroom (which I loved), because yet again I had run dry only a few pages into my latest attempt at a real novel.
“I’ll never be able to write a whole novel!” I sobbed.
But I still remember my dad putting his hand on my shoulder as he reassured me: “Novels will come. Just give it time!”
And he was right. They did. It took a lot of work and years of practice, but they came at last. I finished my first full-length novel when I was fourteen, and although it was completely unoriginal and absolutely not publishable (and I knew enough not to even try to sell it, even then!), the glow of victory in my chest when I typed “THE END” – I finally managed to do it! – was something that has stuck with me ever since. It took another 16 years before I sold my first book (Kat, Incorrigible), but I never stopped trying along the way.
Since then, I’ve written fantasy novels for kids and fantasy novels for adults, but one thing has stayed constant throughout: I love to write about stubborn, determined heroines who go after what they want and really try for their dreams, no matter how challenging their circumstances.
And in my latest book, my heroine has even more motivation to do that: she’s a dragon! Not only is she fierce, stubborn and territorial, but in her draconic culture, every young dragon is expected to find their own passion during their “quiet” years of childhood, as they wait within the safety of their family’s mountain for their scales to fully harden.
Some dragons find their passions in academic pursuits like mathematics or philosophy…but not my fierce dragon-girl, Aventurine! She sneaks out of her family’s mountain, gets tricked by a wily food mage into drinking enchanted hot chocolate (before she can eat him)…and ends up with two unexpected results:
- Horrifyingly, she’s now a puny human! But:
- She’s found her passion at last! Chocolate.
Aventurine may be stuck in the wrong body, bereft of claws, scales and fire, but she knows she’s still the fiercest creature around…and she’s determined to pursue her passion, no matter what it takes.
In her case, it takes her to a very quirky chocolate house…and a whole new kind of danger and adventure.
What about yours? Where has your passion led you, in your life?
I’d love to hear the answers to that question! 🙂
Stephanie Burgis grew up in East Lansing, Michigan, but now lives in Wales with her husband and two sons, surrounded by mountains, castles and coffee shops. She is the author of the tween fantasy trilogy, Kat, Incorrigible and the forthcoming historical fantasy adult title, Masks and Shadows.