I am so pleased to feature Dani Resh, author of The Magic Shoe middle grade fantasy series, on BCB today. In her guest article, Dani shares her inspiring journey to becoming a published author. Welcome, Dani!

There are plenty of reasons to convince oneself not to write, but the most heartbreaking is when you’re told you can’t. As a child, my head was filled with stories, eager to escape the confines of my mind. Not only did the act of writing allow me to put order to the multiple threads that were weaving in and out of my consciousness, but I was in awe of the process that filtered my imagination into a tangible, readable form that others could experience. By the time I was a pre-teen, I was determined to become a writer.

But right after picturing a future of storytelling, a violent car accident left me with a closed head injury. What followed was multiple tests and analyses by doctors in white coats who determined that the part of my brain responsible for language was no longer functioning at an optimum level. Devastated, I convinced myself to leave storytelling behind. However, as the years passed, my ability to communicate never seemed to be an issue. But for some reason, the phrase that I would be linguistically challenged firmly took root in my brain and continued to obscure my path forward as a writer.

But the stories didn’t stop. To channel them, I dove into the visual arts, but I was always left feeling as though my visual work was incomplete. The pieces felt more like snippets of a larger story. Years later, while reading stories to my children, I once again became captivated by the written word. Slowly, glimmers of my own stories began to emerge from the recesses of my mind and before I knew it, the adventure of Wren and his magic shoes came to life.

My first book was published one month after I turned fifty years old and even though it was terrifying, the relief that I had finally allowed the words to flow again overpowered the seeds of self-doubt. I had spent almost forty years believing what a medical doctor told me in a sterile, white room. I don’t remember his name or what he looked like, but I clearly remember what he said and in hindsight, I can’t believe I allowed his words to control my life’s journey. My personal experience found its way into my middle-grade fantasy series since the overarching theme explores how labels can potentially stifle personal growth. Throughout the series, the three main characters learn to trust their perceptions of themselves and develop the ability to shut out adverse assessments.

Writing is a strange endeavor. One is expected to dive deep and be vulnerable, yet also must be resistant to the constant barrage of chatter eager to proclaim you to not be good enough or clever enough, or original enough. But I have had my fill of letting others’ opinions hinder my growth as a writer. I have already lost thirty-eight years of creating fantastical stories. I have no intention of losing thirty-eight more. And I implore anyone who feels as though they have stories that are trying to break free and be shared, to write to your heart’s content. If you don’t, you may end up with years of regret and be haunted by the stories that never had the chance to be told.

Dani Resh is a Michigan author and artist. She has a bachelor’s in fine arts from the College of Creative Studies, a bachelor’s in political science from Oakland University, and a master’s in fine arts from Pennsylvania State University. Dani has worked in a wide variety of fields, including a position as a prosthetic-eye painter and a legal aid paralegal for domestic-abuse victims, and is currently working in higher education. However, her true passion is storytelling. Whether it be through the written word or her artwork, she feels most alive when she is creating.