George and Mildred: The Attack of the Meanie Girls was my first book, but it was more than a sweet story that I happened to write. It was the catalyst for a transformational shift in my life that showed me a clear picture and path of who I was and who I wanted to be.
I wrote the story as a gift to my friends, a cute tale about how a tiny Yorkie and a big, clumsy Boxer became friends and stood up for one another against two yappy neighborhood dogs from across the fence. It wasn’t meant to be more than that. Although many people told me it was a great story that needed to be shared, I didn’t believe them. I didn’t think I was good enough. What if I failed?
I had a lot of cheerleaders in my life — friends and family who believed in me when I could not (actually, more would not) believe in myself. They pushed. I pushed back because I still did not see my worth — on this earth, in my life, and in the value, I brought to relationships. I had lost my voice. I had lost my way.
Then, through mutual friends, I was introduced to Carolyn Flower, Oxygen Publishing’s CEO, who told me what I had already heard from friends — that I’m a good writer, that my story was worth sharing. But this time, it meant more because it was a professional opinion, an expert in the field, and one that wasn’t being said because they were my friends. Through each step in the process, from the storyboard scene-by-scene and illustration to the publishing and pre-launch promotion of the book, the belief grew and grew. Oxygen had planted the seed and believed in me until I could believe in myself.
I started to call myself an author. I signed my name, with the word AUTHOR (yes, in capital letters) behind it. I had clearly marked out my stake in the sand and shouted to the world “My name is Linda Erskine, and I have a story.” I have a voice, and I have lessons I felt were important to bestow on young readers. It came from the heart, and my heart was in the process of healing. With every step, I worked out my inner demons and saw myself in a different light — of someone with talent, a voice worth hearing, and a whole new world in her grasp.
My creativity was flowing. Ideas manifested into other books, a memoir, a message for others so that they did not feel so alone — that they were understood, and they too could heal from whatever was holding them back. I started partnering with like-minded organisations and people with similar messages — that they are enough. I wrote the second book in the series, Life’s a Beach, where the hero started out thinking that it may be better not to try at all than to fail, and ended up with the greatest reward of all, being a hero for someone he loves.
George and Mildred is just not a book. It is my gift coming to life, and me pushing myself out of my safe place of fear, of what-ifs and should-haves. It was my evolution of who I thought I was to now, knowing that nothing will hold me back.
I wish the same for you.