Hi. My name is Nicole Heck and I’m an author. I still can’t get used to saying, “I’m an author.” After years, seventeen years to be exact, of dreaming that I would have my name on the cover of a book in a library, I never imagined that it would actually happen. There were even several points along the road where this dream of mine seemed to be near impossible to achieve.
As a child, everyone decides what they are going to “be” when they are older. For me, I was around seven years old when I first decided that I wanted to be an author. I loved to read and write. I used my parents’ computer to write my “books”. I even wrote a family newsletter and sold it to my family members. I’d go to the library and picture a book on the shelf with my name on it. Becoming an author had become my dream job, well, one of my dream jobs. As I aged, I enjoyed doing so many things that it was hard for me to pinpoint exactly what I wanted my career to be. So… how did I get to the point where at 23 years old, I was able to make my lifelong dream come true and publish my first book? Well- make a cup of tea, throw your feet up, get comfortable, and enjoy reading as I take you on the bumpy and busy road that I call, my journey.
Throughout my childhood, my accomplishments within school proved that I was gifted with the ability to write. In fifth grade I won a local essay contest and in the year following a poem I wrote was published. It didn’t stop there. Throughout school, I typically received high grades in my English classes. But, I wasn’t an A student overall, I was average when it came to grades. I even failed a class in my first quarter of senior year of high school. I was no Einstein.
You’d think that for someone who wants to be an author and for someone where writing comes so naturally that they’d go to school for English, right? That wasn’t the case for me. Growing up in a family business, I was exposed to many different areas of the business world. Before my senior year of high school I had experience in sales, marketing, finance, accounting, customer service, and it doesn’t end there. I figured out that I really enjoyed the marketing and management side of the industry and when choosing what major I wanted to study in college, that’s what I chose.
You’re probably asking yourself, “what does she want to do with a marketing degree?” Your answer is as good as mine. I didn’t have any idea of what I wanted to do, I had many ideas. I loved the social media and promotions side of it. Research wasn’t the most interesting or enjoyable for me. Where would I work? For the majority of my college years, I couldn’t decide. I could picture myself working for a non-profit, for a sports team, or for a business. So – I decided to test the waters and get experience in all three.
Life during college had soon turned to school, work, school, work, etc. I spent more time working and focusing on my future than I had on my actual life at college. Do I regret it? A part of me does, yes. I wish I had spent less time building up my resume and more time getting involved on campus but then I wouldn’t be where I am today. Throughout college I did marketing for my family’s business and worked a few hours each week at the gym we run. I also worked for the AHL affiliate of the New Jersey Devils, created marketing materials for the Amsterdam Mohawks – a summer collegiate baseball team, interned for my college’s athletic department in corporate sponsorship’s, and did various volunteer work for nonprofits. I was extremely busy and on top of my school work, this meant I had no time to write creatively. I had no time to take all of the endless ideas I had for a book and actually create it.
Through all of my various roles, I had narrowed down my options and made the decision that after college I wanted to pursue a career in the sports industry. Being a die hard baseball fan, working for a baseball team had become my target. Right after college I landed an internship with the Short Season Single-A affiliate of the Houston Astros. I was then offered a job at the end of the summer with the Triple A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, the Durham Bulls. Except – I turned it down. How did I get to the point where I turned down a job that would have lead me to bigger and better places in that industry? A job where when I got the offer, I was so excited that I cried. So why on earth would I reject the offer? Well – I wrote my first book and I had already started to write the second one.
Let me rewind.
Everyone will face obstacles of some kind or another in their lifetime and as a teenager and young adult, it seemed as if every challenge a young girl could possibly face was thrown my way. I had to learn how to cope with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), I faced major alterations in my diet after learning I couldn’t tolerate gluten, I experienced relationship abuse, and I was exposed to grief for the first time. Each challenge provided me with a series of mini challenges I had to overcome all while trying to move on with my life and trying to accomplish my dream.
Having to deal with relationship abuse proved to be the most challenging at the time. With the combination of anxiety and after experiencing what I had – I had become afraid to even let someone touch me. Since I was unlucky enough to experience it with more than one guy, it was hard for me to even let myself be close to a guy again. I was afraid to talk about my feelings with guys I started to like, for fear that they would completely destroy me verbally and emotionally. So I started to use writing as my outlet for all of my fears, anger, and feelings. I started to write fictional scenarios of what would happen if I told my friends what was going on, or, if I actually told a guy I was interested in him. All of this creative writing not only helped me overcome this battle but it had reignited the creative light-bulb inside of me. One that allowed my mind to run freely without fear of what people thought like it once had before. I was using my imagination again.
During the summer after my junior year of college I wrote my first book. This book will never see the bookshelf. It was the first book I had written from start to finish. I created fictional situations based off of things my friends and I had experienced. Writing that book not only improved my creative writing, but I learned a lot about the process and what kind of time it takes to write and edit a 50,000 word book. When I finished it – I believed in myself once again. The dream was no longer lost, it had become alive again.
Now on to my senior year of college. By this time, I was sick of falling head over heels for the a**hole guy. I was sick of falling for guys who I would do anything for, guys who I believed in, but guys who wouldn’t do the same for me. A common and unfortunate problem that most everyone at some point in their life, guy or girl, has to deal with.
Then I met him.
This guy was different from the rest. He wasn’t anything I was looking for in a guy. He wasn’t the typical guy I fell for. He was nice. He was respectful. He was affectionate. He was motivating. It was the first time that I felt safe in the arms of someone else. The first time I wasn’t scared that he would hurt me.
About a few weeks after I met him and after a few dates – the idea for the book that I would later publish came to me. I expressed my excitement and the idea to him first after learning that he too wanted to publish a book one day. He was nothing but encouraging. He told me to never let anyone get in the way of me pursuing my dream. Those words were enough for me to truly believe that I had it in me. Those words instilled confidence in me that this idea that I had could actually end up being something.
So I started writing.
Soon I had the book synopsis, the book title, and the first six chapters. Even though after about six weeks we decided we would be better off as friends, the encouragement didn’t stop. My motivation didn’t stop. I was so happy I was writing again that I forgot about all of my fears. I was able to finally put the past behind me. I even made the decision to move to a new state with my best friend. My future looked amazing.
Fast forward to the week before my college graduation. I couldn’t wait to spend the week with my friends from school and to celebrate. I couldn’t wait to tell everyone about my decision to move down to North Carolina. That was – until I got the call. The guy who had made me believe in myself again, the guy who made me believe that there are good guys out there, the guy who believed in my writing, he was gone.
I was in a bad place for a while. I had never experienced grief until then. I often questioned if the tears would ever end. How could someone so young be taken so soon? How was I going to get through this? I wished and wished that it was just a dream, that I would wake up and I could call him and hear his voice. I wished over and over again to go back to the last night I spent with him a few weeks prior, where we spent hours talking about our life. I wished I was back that night where his arms were wrapped around me for what seemed to be the shortest minute as we said goodbye. If only I had known it would be the last time I’d get one of his hugs. The last time I would see him. It was the first time I had to deal with death – unexplained. Death that seemed so cruel.
But – despite my grief, I stuck with my decision to move to North Carolina and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I had ever made. My best friend and I made a point to travel, experience life out on our own, and to have fun. I soon found a job at a gym down the road from my apartment. I learned how to live on my own making almost no money and working 60 hours a week to pay my bills. That job is also one of the reasons why I am where I am today.
I became determined to thrive. I am a competitive person so I was willing to do anything I could to rise to the top of the sales reports. Only a few short months later came a promotion where I learned I enjoyed being a leader. However – the most important thing that came out of that job was the people I met. I’ve never met more encouraging people than my co-workers at that job. They helped me overcome the great loss I had just endured a few months before. They all believed in me and helped me to believe in God again. The best part is, they all believed in the book I was writing without knowing me fully. I knew what it felt like to be happy again after months of sadness and doubt.
Writing had become difficult when I was working so many hours. I was mentally and physically tired. I became stressed. I often wondered if I would ever finish my book. Then, in March of 2015, after a few months in my new position – I took a leap of faith and I left the job so I could spend more time writing. After all of the positive feedback from my co-workers who had become friends, I knew I had the opportunity to make it happen. I was given this gift to write fictitiously for a reason, so I needed to believe in myself. I took a job as a nanny so I could spend my nights writing. Only a month later in April of 2015, I had finished my first draft. Finished. What was next?
I started to edit it over and over again. I reached out to several editors and researched how much it would cost me to self-publish. I made a quick and impulsive decision to move back home to New York so I could save money, after spending an entire night awake mapping out a timeline for my book. I looked at the fiction novel I had created and said to myself, “Nicole, your dream isn’t that far away. It’s done. You can make it happen, you just have to continue to work hard and to believe.” I remembered the words that my dear friend who I had lost said to me. For the first time – I knew it was possible. I read over and over what I had written. Sometimes I would cry, sometimes I would smile, but each time I read it over – I could not believe that my mind had created that. I couldn’t believe that my dream was so close to being real and seven months after moving home it happened. In March of 2016, my very first published book was released on Amazon.
When I was seven years old and dreamed of becoming an author – I never imagined the kind of road I would have to take to get there. I think back to all of the times I could have just given up, the times I struggled to believe in myself, and then I look at my book. I’m so happy I didn’t give up. But – I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for all of the amazing people who helped me along the way. I firmly believe that everyone comes into your life for a reason. A huge thank you to everyone who had an impact on my journey. I will be forever grateful for your belief in me and support for my dream.
So – that’s my story of how I became an author. Thank you to everyone who read my journey, my first blog post on my site. I wanted to share my story with all of my readers before I start posting articles, with the hopes that if anyone else is out there struggling to believe in themselves or their dream, and they read this – that they’ll believe in themselves again.
Whether you want to be an author, a singer, a CEO, or whatever your dream may be, don’t ever give up. The road isn’t going to be easy. The road is going to have a lot of bumps and curves along the way, but when you finally reach that end destination, it is the most surreal place you’ll ever be.