Originally posted on Elizabeth’s personal blog.
I wish I could tell you that my childhood love of books led me to publishing, but that’s only partially true.
Yes, I grew up a reader and a book-lover. In one of my earliest memories, I’m sitting cross-legged on the floor with a basket of books beside me. They were children’s books, the hardback kind with thirty pages of colorful illustrations and a disintegrating slip-cover. I sat with a basket of books to my left and stacked each finished book to my right. I loved the reading and the stacking, the focusing on one word at a time.
Even as I grew up and entered the emotional pandemonium of adolescence, my love for books and words remained. The basket of hardback children’s books became the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre wrecked my teenage emotions, and I felt like I was falling in love. Except with words. The way sentences contained infinite possibilities made me feel small in a wonderful way.
I studied English Writing in college. There was really no other option for me. I was always taught to do what I loved, and I loved words. I knew that pursuing a career as an English major would take extra hard work, discipline, and determination, but I set my face to toward the challenge and didn’t look back.
But life has not turned out the way I expected. In college, I thought I would land my first publishing job the day after graduation. I thought I would live surrounded by books and magic and ride off into the sunset of my career (oh to be twenty-two again). Instead, I stayed where I was. I lived in Mississippi for a year. Then, life took some difficult turns, and I moved to Texas to start over. That was the year I really grew up. I grieved and accepted that life is both painful and beautiful; I saw that life is harsh and it shook me from my naive expectations. And because of my English major (that I had no clue what I was going to do with), I was hired to be a personal assistant to a lady writing her first book (read the rest of the crazy side-hustle story here).
I’m not led to publishing because I’ve always loved books—that’s only part of the story. I’m led to publishing because I’ve tasted the bitterness and sweetness of life, and found that I am resilient. I’ve seen the beauty in suffering, in dying, in breaking open like a seed in the soil, and rising again. Although my journey into publishing, as an author's assistant, has come through a season of pain, it’s opened the door for healing and new life. And I’m learning that this is the way of humanity: to break and to hurt and to heal.
I believe literature is one of the ways we offer hope to our fellow humans. Whether it’s through a poem, a memoir, or a letter – we write to remember that we are still alive, that we’re not alone, and that breaking apart is not the end. Where there is brokenness, there is potential for healing.
I want to work in publishing because humanity’s need for healing isn’t going away. We are hurting. We need healing. Always, this is true. Literature is a medium for hope, for truth, for people to come together through art and honesty. This is a craft to be preserved, and I want to steward it well. I want to help humanity come alongside one another, share their stories, and offer a way to connect, to heal, and to live.