Finding the ‘Write’ Purpose
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain
Perhaps one of the greatest authors in the history of literature, Mark Twain’s repertoire of stories include: “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” “The Prince and the Pauper,” and the memoir of Ulysses S. Grant entitled “Memoirs.”
The above quote is often debated, many holding that Twain didn’t actually popularize this jaded piece of wisdom, but that it was created some time after his death and given his name. Regardless of when and where the phrase was born, it serves as a grand encouragement.
There are many men and women who go through life unsure of their purpose, or what they were brought into the world for. Millions of dollars go into therapy, self-help books, and the like, as people embark on a quest to find out their purpose. It is the quintessential question of life: “Why am I? What is my purpose?”
Then, there is the rare breed – the artist. They find the answers regarding their questions of purpose in creativity, studious practice, and oftentimes, failure. Some of the greatest men and women in the arts have already gone – names like Twain, Poe, and Shakespeare; Bach, Beethoven, Mozart; Gogh, Picasso, and da Vinci. They are the names that struggled for artistic breakthrough; paving the way for others to follow their hunger for creative expression and acceptance.
Among them are those who strive for that same creative expression – that same passion. Writers, particularly, are some of the most dedicated: they face a sea of competition for a small funnel of opportunity, and hours of their lives are comprised into one piece that may or may not make it into the hands of those whom they so desperately desire to reach: readers.
Monticello local Samantha Seestrom knows this first hand. Raised in Big Lake, Seestrom is a Monticello High School graduate, and currently a paraprofessional teacher’s assistant at Eastview Education Center. And, at 24-years-old, she’s a two-time, self-published author of two novels, as well.
“Surrender Your Soul” and “Ashes of the Sea” are Seestrom’s two pieces, which follow Marina, the daughter of a sea witch charged with capturing souls. Set in the modern world, Seestrom explains that her novel is a modern spin-off of “The Little Mermaid,” popularized by Walt Disney and originally written by Hans Christian Anderson.
All about fantasy, mermaids, and mythology, Seestrom came to the conclusion to write her own book at the age of 19, after growing up with a love and passion for writing at the forefront of her childhood.
“I was always that kid running around with paper and a pen,” she shared. “Of course, lots of times none of the scribbling made sense, but in my head, they were stories.”
Oftentimes, while in schools, Seestrom would pen short stories or ideas that really never took off, but passed the time. However, in her junior year at MHS, she took a writing class about science-fiction and fantasy writing. There, she found freedom in choosing her own assignments, which almost always consisted of written work and creative expression.
Mr. Nate Russell taught that class, and was a huge inspiration and encouragement for Seestrom as she decided to pursue her novel. “He really encouraged me to pursue writing farther than I was,” Seestrom stated. “It’s because of him, really, I wrote the first book. That’s why I dedicated it to him.”
Always, Seestrom’s writing was kept private, and she never let anyone really read her work. However, as she began taking Russell’s class, she began to open up in her talent, and began to really develop her novel. Russell was the first person to read her writing, which was a huge step in the right direction for her.
However, Seestrom didn’t sit down and complete her novel until two years later, at age 19. It took her a total of 30 days to write her first novel, and that was because she challenged herself to sit down and get it done. Considering the result is a 300-odd-page novel, it was a job well done, and a challenge well-conquered.
“I decided that I wanted to get my first novel done by the time I was 20, because I knew life was going to take off, and I wanted it under my belt. So, I decided to write it in 30 days, and it was so hard! I spent ten, 12 hours a day writing away and working on the book. I haven’t been able to write another in 30 days since!”
When her novel was finished, Seestrom began to query publishing agents to begin the publication process. It wasn’t to be; however, Seestrom faced rejection after rejection for her mermaid tale, receiving a cocktail of comments that were both encouraging, and somewhat disappointing.
“A lot of people said they liked the writing style and how I wrote, but that the genre just wasn’t what they were looking for,” Seestrom commented. “So it really was a mixture of responses.”
Seestrom would spend a year-and-a-half on the traditional publication path. Finally fed up with receiving the same responses, she decided to self-publish, and underwent the process of getting her book together on her own.
“A lot of people think that self-publishing can be tacky and not as well done as traditional publishing,” she started. “And that is sometimes true, if done poorly. However, I am so fortunate to have found a great editor, format specialist, and graphic designer to really pull it all together.”
While self-publishing is an expensive process, Seestrom is grateful for the support system she is fortunate enough to have. Her family, all locally recognized, were key factors in her continuing with her dream and getting her first book into the hands of many readers.
Since her first novel, Seestrom has published the second installment of her “Breathers” series, “Ashes of the Sea,” in 2018, which is the continuation of Marina’s story. Currently, she’s working on the third installation, “Blood in the Sand,” which is expected by January of 2020.
Like many literary greats before her, Seestrom shared that writing is an escape from reality for her. “I don’t do it for the money, because the money isn’t necessarily great,” she started. “I do this for the escape from reality it gives me. I get to be somebody else, I get to tell someone’s story. It’s something I can be honest with myself about.”
Seestrom stated that the best part of being a published author is not about the royalties, or the book signings, or even the publicity. “I love seeing people’s reactions. They get as excited about the story as I do, and that just makes my day.”
As for advice she’d give to other writers? Seestrom explained that writers should go with their gut during the writing process. “Not all advice is good advice. Go with your gut and do the hard thing that may not be popular. Don’t be afraid of it, be out of the box.”
Writing has been at the core of Seestrom’s passion and love since her youth. It was a talent that her family identified early, and something she worked to develop in her youth – and still works to develop today. While she plans to self-publish again, her hope is that with three novels under her belt, she’ll be able to query a publishing agent, and be picked up by a traditional publishing house. She hasn’t given that up, yet.
She stated, “With writing, you can live further and do things you may never get to do in your life. You can write the story and determine the outcome; change people and relationships, and do the impossible. That is a big factor in why I love to do this, and why I have chosen to make it a part of my life. There isn’t anything like writing. I just know, in my heart, this is what I was born to do.”
All in all, it’s safe to say that Seestrom is headed in the “write” direction. Her books are available for purchase on Amazon, and can be found by searching “Samantha Seestrom.”
To get updates on Seestrom’s progress, learn about her inspirations, and follow her journey, check her out on Instagram at @samanthawritesbooks, and Facebook, “Samantha Seestrom: Author.”