What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day… “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”


“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

Three  nights ago, I read The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams aloud to my daughter as a bedtime story. Although I’ve read the book many times, that night, it brought tears to my eyes.

Because that night was a turning point in my life. I’d gotten a phone call that assured me that I was ready to reveal something I’ve been afraid to share.

Something I haven’t told anyone outside of my closest circle of friends.

I’ve been nervous and insecure, apprehensive of others’ judgement, or dislike and disbelief.

And while I’m still experiencing all of those feelings from time to time, the phone call I got on Tuesday was a validation of sorts, and now I’m ready to share what I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time.

*Deep Breath*

Here it goes.

I.

Am.

An.

Author.

I have been on the fence about this title for a while now, ever since I was audacious enough to write my first chapter and see it through till the end.

The past couple of  years, I’ve started a blog and have joined numerous writing groups on social media forums. I attended my first writers’ conference and had a select few people read my novel and give me feedback. All of these things were passive ways to declare who I was, but despite working on my book for years, I haven’t felt comfortable outwardly claiming my authorship.

Why?

Because I’m not one of those strong women you hear about who can simply tell themselves they are capable and worthy and actually believe it. And being an author is something semi-sacred to me: it’s hallowed ground I’m attempting to tread. I needed someone else – an expert – to tell me that being an author was an attainable status for me: more than an unreachable dream.

Three days ago, I got a phone call from the experts: two literary agents – Alex Barba and Michelle Johnson. 

These are women who have read thousands of manuscripts, who have worked with bestselling authors, the top five publishing houses, and even film production companies.

And these women called me to tell me they loved my book and would be honored to represent my best interests in getting it published and into the hands of young adults.

And in my head, just like that…

I became an author.

That was the same night I read The Velveteen Rabbit to my daughter. And as I read it aloud, I got all teary-eyed.

Because I realized that I was the Velveteen Rabbit. 

For years, I was wondering what could make me real.

At first, there was disbelief.

Could I really write a novel?  A whole book?  Could I make it entertaining, enthralling, even? Could I create lovable characters and a plot that will command the readers’ attention?  FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, HOW WOULD I EVEN COME UP WITH AN IDEA???

HOW CAN I BECOME REAL????

Here’s the excerpt from the picture book, with my thoughts as I read the story following it:

What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day… “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

My version: What is REAL? Does it just mean having ideas and writing about them? 

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

My version: “You weren’t born an author. You become one. It’s been a long, long process, and you’ve come so far. You created something that experienced agents loved and wanted to read more of.  You have what it takes, Amanda Deich. You’ve become REAL.” 

You see, being an author is more than just doing something for the enjoyment of it.  Sure, you have to love it to see it through – you’ll need the passion when you’re on your 118th revision – but writing wasn’t created to be an act of solitude.

It was created to speak to the heart of the person who is reading your work.

It’s communicative. There’s a giver and a receiver, and the receiver must always understand and appreciate the importance of what you are trying to say.

While it seems simple, it really isn’t.  Again, from The Velveteen Rabbit:




“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

My version: You’re going to suffer in one way or another. You’re going to be critiqued. Some people will hate your work. YOU’RE going to hate your work. Readers will always find something about it that needs improvement.  But if you want to be real – if you want to be an author – you can be. You just have to love the work and the vision more than you hate the critique. 



“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”


“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” 

My version:  It takes time to become a real author.  No one has their first draft published. All authors have been rejected at one time or another. You cannot break easily if you want to succeed in this business.  

By the time you create a book worth reading, you’re going to be falling apart at the seams. But don’t worry, because you won’t feel ugly. You’ll feel proud to have done something very few have had the talent and fortitude to do.





My first novel was an “accidental” memoir I wrote as an anniversary gift to my husband. After I was able to fill an entire book with my real-life musings, I realized, I CAN DO THIS.  

I had to pray long and incredibly hard for inspiration, but eventually, God gave me an idea. And I wrote. 

It consumed me. 

After a significant amount of time, I gave it to others to read. An agent who led an online course pointed out that I began the book with a cliche. A good friend who is also an author informed me that the premise of my book was overused. I read it myself and realized that I had put too many redundant things in it, that it was too wordy and took away from the pace of the story.

Months passed, and then years.  And it wasn’t ready yet.  But the whole time, I constantly said to myself, I AM GOING TO DO THIS.

I asked people to pray for me, and they did. THEY STILL DO.

I continue to feel the desperate need to write deep down in my soul, and I know that this is God’s way of nudging me toward his purpose, of telling me, THIS IS WHAT YOU’RE MEANT TO DO.

And so I write.  I create.

What is that you are meant to do?

Write? Paint? Teach? Heal? Parent?

Calculate? Motivate? Insure? Assure?

<ENTER ANY ACTIVE VERB HERE!>?

What is keeping you from becoming real?  Have you taken the chance and shared your talent with the world? Have you listened to your critiques – truly ingested them – and made the decision to become the best version of you?

If not, what’s holding you back?  Out there, this world has billions of people in it, and there is a desperate need for them to be blessed by your talents.

Don’t hesitate any longer, friends.

Do what it takes to become REAL.

In the book, the velveteen rabbit eventually becomes a real rabbit, finally able to use his limbs to do what God intended bunnies to do.  And though he looks back at his past as a loved toy with fondness – as he appreciates what it took to be real – he doesn’t hesitate to dart off into the world to do what he was made to do.

And that’s where I am, people.

It’s my life as The Velveteen Rabbit.
Source: Amanda Deich