Military spouses able to beat the odds
By LISA SMITH MOLINARI | Special to Stars and Stripes | Published: March 5, 2020
Two months into 2020, statistics dictate that most people have already given up on their New Year’s resolutions. Sadly, only about 6 or 7 percent who make resolutions attain their goals. I’ve always been a resolution-maker and a yo-yo dieter, so I am forever making plans to lose 10 pounds, then breaking them.
But one year, I made a resolution that would take me a decade to achieve.
In 2010, our family was stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, where I made a New Year’s resolution to submit essays I had written two years prior to newspaper editors. I had written about parenting, marriage and military life to relieve my own stress during my husband’s yearlong deployment, and my essays had been sitting in a folder on my computer ever since. “I should finally do something with these,” I thought.
I googled how to submit essays to newspaper editors, and flying by the seat of my double-digit-sized pants, I wrote to them and hit send.
In my mind, my goal had been achieved. I had done my research, conquered my fear, and put myself out there.
Problem was, my essay got published.
My uncle called from the States two weeks after my submission to tell me that he was reading my essay in The Washington Post. I was stunned. “Now what?” I wondered.
Having struggled with self-confidence most of my life, and having left my legal career to manage our military family, I was so focused on getting over my fear of submitting my writing for scrutiny, I never stopped to think about what I would do if someone actually liked it. I didn’t know much about the industry, but I knew that I couldn’t waste the unique opportunity The Washington Post byline had given me. So, I continued researching, started a blog, created a column, reached out to other writers, pitched my work to countless editors, read my columns in public, joined writers’ groups, and became intimately familiar with the feeling of rejection.
That resolution in 2010 followed its logical course — my original goal to simply submit my writing became my goal to publish an essay, which became my goal to be a columnist, which became my goal to syndicate, and so on and so on, until my goal morphed into one that many Americans have — to publish a book.
I had no business thinking that, just because I wrote a weekly column, I could publish a book. Although electronic self-publishing has made it easier to publish, it’s harder to be successful at it. According to Publisher’s Weekly, the average book sells less than 500 copies.
Facing these horrendous odds, I forged ahead with my plan to publish a book. Really?
Insane, I’ll admit. But not only did I finish my manuscript, I signed a book contract, too.
That 2010 New Year’s resolution I made to “put myself out there” took me 10 years to accomplish, but I did it despite every probability against me — a stay-at-home military spouse and mother of three, moving every few years, with no inside contacts and no previous experience in the publishing industry. Other military spouse authors set terrific examples — Corie Weathers, Siobhan Falls, Alison Buckholtz, El Brown, Tara Crooks, Rebecca Yarros, Terri Barnes, Kristine Schellhaas and Jocelyn Green, to name only a few.
My book, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com,” will be released on May 1, one week before Military Spouse Appreciation Day. So apropos, because I credit my accomplishment as a book author to having been a military spouse.
Ours is a unique lifestyle that fosters independence, resourcefulness, determination and guts. I may never lose that 10 pounds, but being a military spouse gave me the skills I needed to beat impossible odds and achieve something precious, rare and meaningful. Of that, I am eternally grateful and proud.