This is loooooooong overdue, but I'm pleased to introduce someone who is turning their dream into a reality. Her story is quite remarkable, so take a second to learn about this very influential person in my life. You might just get inspired to go out and pursue your own dream.
So, who would ever think about leaving the comfort of their job as a Chemical Engineer for the U.S. Department of Defense in order to pursue their passion for writing? Meet Sakinah Hofler. Is she crazy? You decide. But this is her story.
When growing up, she wasn't quite normal like the rest of us, or me, at least. She loved to read books. Kind of how I love to look at pictures. Which isn't a bad thing, but so much so, that when her parents punished her and sent her to her room, she was filled with joy because it allowed her to read. It gave her an escape. I mean, who really loved getting punished as a child growing up? Nope, not me. Not at all. But I digress.
Around the age of 12, she sent a letter to one of her favorite authors, Ann Martin, author of the The Baby-sitters Club. She didn't really expect her favorite author to write her back, but Ann Martin did write her back. That was the letter that changed her life.
Now, what type of letter did Ann Martin write to an aspiring 12 year-old writer that turned her life around? Not the type of letter you'd expect. See, Ann Martin told her the truth. She let her know that if she was ready to pursue the life of an artist, she needed to prepare to live the life of a starving artist. Jeez! What a blow!
So, Sakinah, in her infinite wisdom, took a minute to digest the letter, and in that moment decided that, since she's already good at math and science, she might as well pursue a career where she would earn lots of money. She refused to even allow herself to think of having to struggle to earn money at doing something she liked.
Fast forward to graduating from an engineering school with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, M.S. in Engineering Mgmt., and working as a Chemical Engineer for the DoD. Two years ago, she thought she was some hot stuff. I mean, look at her, she's BEAUTIFUL! But not in that sense. She thought her writing was hot, too. Until she read aloud the first paragraph of her short story to a room full of writers and agents, and the agent publicly dismissed her after she read the first paragraph. Until she applied to 8 grad schools and got rejected by all 8 schools. Alone with rejection letters so sharp she thought she'd die the death by a thousand cuts. A thousand cuts that gnawed away endlessly at her soul and psyche. I know they say engineers can't write, but ... Ouch! Another blow.
3 Useful Tips That Helped Her:
- She didn't allow those rejections stop her from what she always wanted to do.
- She didn't allow the negativity from the naysayers in her life stop her from what she wanted to do.
- She didn't allow the insecurities from her own parents stop her from what she wanted to.
She knew she needed to improve her writing skills, so what did she do? She signed up and joined the Writer's Studio in NYC where they really dissect one another's work and provide valuable constructive criticism and offer genuine support. From there, she learned to read more and more books outside of her genre. She also purchased The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron. Now, The Artist's Way can be applied to any art form. For you photographers out there, this is the same book Chase Jarvis recommends reading. Besides going out on artist's dates with yourself, it also suggests writing a daily 3-page journal every morning when you wake up, while in bed, to boost creativity . Check it out for yourself because it's making me go off topic right now.
Instead of giving up on going to grad school for an MFA, she tried again two years later. This time around, she got accepted into a number of MFA programs and will be attending FSU this fall with a full ride and a teaching gig. Nice! No, she doesn't think grad school will make her a better writer. That's not the point. But she does believe it will open more doors and give her three years to work on what she's always wanted to write. Yeah, your read that right -- 3 years in good ole' Tallahassee. Go Seminoles!!!
Also, this time around, she's been invited to publish some of her own writing, too. SWEET!
I'm a big believer in SWEAT EQUITY. And boy, did she put a lot of sweat and tears into her work. But this time, without the safety of the rope. You know the scene in The Dark Knight Rises where Bruce Wayne, after recovering from a broken back, is finally able to make the jump without the rope and only makes it after several failed attempts with the rope. Because without the rope, he allows his fear of falling push himself further than before. Random? Yes. Does it make sense? Absolutely!
Now, instead of letting life, or people, throw some major blows at her. She's blowing a kiss back and letting the world know that she's an unstoppable force.
What are you doing to improve your set of skills? Are you ready to make that jump without the rope? Are you ready to take that leap of faith? If you don't think studying other artists will help with your art form, allow me to leave you with one more little nugget. Did you know Stephen King reads 70 - 80 books every year, on top of his own writing schedule? He's successful in his own right, but he still continues to sharpen his tools by reading and studying the works of others.
So, no, she's not crazy (at least in my opinion). Just someone who never gave up and always kept her tools sharp. But this story is still being written. I can't wait to find out what happens next. :-)
Thanks for taking a 'second' to read about this extraordinary person. Remember, if there is someone you know that has helped or inspired you in some way, shape, or form -- TELL THEM. Or, in my case, write a blog about it.
Oh, I almost forgot to add that she loves studying languages. She also happens to be fluent in French and Arabic. Smart, Beautiful, & Sexy. #oolala