A NEW CAREER!
One of the reasons I started my website is that I wanted a place for women to come together and dream. We women need to know that we don’t have to hang on to an old dream that has stopped nurturing us — that there is always time to start a new dream. This week’s story is about a history professor who experienced a traumatic brain injury that unleashed a hidden talent — writing fiction. Laura pursued her new passion fervently and has become a wildly successful romance author. What a fascinating way to heal! -– Marlo, MarloThomas.com
By Lori Weiss
When Laura Kaye and her family set out for a July 4th holiday, she expected to see fireworks. But she had no idea that their summer vacation would begin with a bang that would change the course of her life.
“We were at our beach house,” Laura recalled, “and the girls were eating lunch. I was unloading the dishwasher and as I stood up, I caught the corner of my head on an open cabinet door. It hurt, but I didn’t think much about it. I just had a headache. So we went off to the amusement park and watched the fireworks that night.”
But over the next couple days, that headache would become crippling. So much so, that the Annapolis, Maryland mother of two ended up in the emergency room. What appeared to be a simple hit on the head was actually a traumatic brain injury.
“There was no physical damage that could be picked up on a scan. But I couldn’t sleep. I lost my appetite. I even began playing guitar for the first time! They could tell from the behavioral changes I began to experience that something serious had happened.”
Laura’s doctor explained that when tissue is injured, the brain re-routes the neural connections around the injury, often activating parts of the brain that weren’t being used.
“He said that he’d seen people who began to like foods they’d never liked before,” Laura explained, “or who went from quiet and shy to outgoing. It’s called Post Concussion Syndrome. So I asked him whether he thought it was strange that I’d written a 450-page book in 11 weeks.”
That’s right. Eleven weeks. All those nights that Laura couldn’t sleep, she’d slip out of bed and into her home office and begin to do something she’d never done before. She wrote a paranormal romance novel.
“While I was recuperating, my husband, Brian, had brought me the Twilight series. I’d never heard of it before, but I loved it. I grew up in a family that believed in the supernatural. It completely rocked my world. And suddenly I felt like I needed to write. I thought, ‘Stephenie Meyer is a mom, just like I am — and she hadn’t thought about writing a book before she did. If she can do it, maybe I can do it too.’”
So, in a twist of fate that proves sometimes truth really can be stranger than fiction, Laura, who was a history professor at the Naval Academy, embarked on an entirely new career. She was so confident of her new skill, that she decided it was time to find an agent. So she sent queries to 60 of them.
“I actually got a lot of requests for it,” she said. “Some people wanted to see a partial manuscript; others wanted to see the entire thing. In the end, they all said no. But that didn’t deter me. The doctor said there are two ways to look at a brain injury — a catastrophe that ruins your life or an opportunity. I had become a writer and at that point, I couldn’t imagine my life without it. It filled me up in a way nothing had before. My whole feeling about who I was had changed.”
So Laura did what a writer does. She continued to write. She’d spend her days teaching and taking care of her family and every free moment at her keyboard. She surrounded herself with other writers, by joining the Romance Writers of America. And when she wasn’t revising that original manuscript, she’d write something called fan fiction — on a site where fans craft stories about characters they’ve read about.
When Laura couldn’t concentrate on her own protagonists, she’d write about Bella and Edward, the lead characters in the Twilight series. She wrote 28 chapters that got 3.8 million hits. Laura had built a fan base before she was ever published.
What she couldn’t have known was that the audience she’d acquired would play an important part in what would become a bidding war over her work.
“I was just having fun,” the writer explained, “with a group of like-minded people. I wasn’t trying to build a following. There was really no ulterior motive.”
In the meantime, she kept sending out revisions of her first novel “Forever Freed” and began working on new ones — some based on the paranormal and others that were contemporary romances, with military heroes similar to those who had walked the hallowed halls of her workplace.
And she began to explore other options. Digital publishing was heating up and e-publishers provided her with a whole new audience — one that didn’t require an agent. Within weeks of her first query, Laura landed a deal. And it wouldn’t be long before she received a call that might leave even an established romance writer breathless.
From a Youtube search on “writing and head/brain injury”
Terry Smith Producer,Writer,Author, and Talking about his Head Injury