The scent of freshly printed pages and the maze of aisles holding thousands upon thousands of books -- that's what made me enjoy trips to the bookstore as a kid.
However, I had never imagined I would one day have the opportunity to walk into a large bookstore and see my own book placed next to those of accomplished authors. It is still difficult to believe.
A mixture of good and bad elements came together to bring this opportunity to life. The beginning of my sophomore year in high school, I was placed into an elective I hadn't signed up for: creative writing, taught by Frank Katz. That, coupled with my sophomore English class with Mary Beth Gumbart, spurred a level of writing for which I never realized I had the potential. I also missed a number of school days during my sophomore year due to an illness with no permanent cure: Crohn's disease. This kept me from playing baseball, so I decided to pick up a new hobby.
The Gray Veil began as a creative writing assignment and eventually grew into something much larger. Its inception was a crime-centered short story. The week I started the story, I happened to read an article on the Guardian website about the daughter of a mafia boss. The article dealt with the question of who would take over the operation after the boss -- who had a brain condition -- died. After reading it, I thought: "Could a violent criminal change his perspective on life if he got a disease such as Alzheimer's?"
I decided to base my short story on that concept. I never ended up turning in the story because, soon after I came up with the idea, I missed nearly two more weeks of school due to my illness. However, while I was in the hospital, I continued to write. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my working manuscript, but I just thought the concept of the story was intriguing. So I kept going.
After I hit a plateau with the mafia book, I decided to put it aside and start on a new project. The inspiration for my new book came from my dad, who at my age was a paperboy in Boston, making less than the minimum wage. He eventually used the money he earned to purchase a dry cleaner with my uncle and grandfather, and then a hotel. When he told me about his experiences, I realized it was the story I was looking for: a story that was both inspirational and informative. I figured that a book that uses a fictional paperboy as its central theme in order to illustrate business points would be really cool and groundbreaking.
I began the book in the second semester of my sophomore year, and finished the first draft of A Paperboy's Fable in June 2015.
I posted a book listing about A Paperboy's Fable on Publishers Weekly. Their database also gave me access to hundreds of literary agents' information. I queried nearly a hundred agents, and heard back from four who were willing to offer representation.
In addition, I heard back from an editor who is the former directorial editor at John Wiley & Sons. She said a publishing company named Post Hill Press, based in New York, was interested in publishing A Paperboy's Fable. We arranged for a call and later sealed the deal. However, there was one contingency. The book was fairly short (around a hundred pages), which isn't the traditional length that publishing houses agree to publish in paperback. So, my publisher and I decided I would interview people with a background in business and entrepreneurship to provide a better insight for readers and help illustrate the book's core principles.
I set up a profile on LinkedIn, networked with the people I already knew, and started to build connections. Many of my contacts said they didn't have time to respond, but I just kept trying. Honestly, I thought it was a numbers game.
It turned out many more people than I had anticipated were willing to do an interview. I was intimidated during my first interview with Gina Smith, co-author of iWoz, the best-selling autobiography of Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak. However, by the fourth time around, the interviews became pretty conversational. I am glad I had this opportunity. Speaking to former CIA director General David Petraeus (who used to be a paperboy himself) was something I'd never imagined doing. Nor did I ever dream the co-founder of Vine would ask for my insight on a feature of the app.
The process of writing A Paperboy's Fable taught me many invaluable life lessons. The book is scheduled for release in June 2016.
After finishing and polishing my final draft of A Paperboy's Fable, I picked back up with my mafia story, and recently completed a rough draft of the book. The next step is to polish it before sending it off to my publisher.
At the beginning of my sophomore year, my life seemed to be on a downward spiral. Little did I know that a class I hadn't signed up for and an unfortunate illness would lead me on such a journey of opportunities.
A version of this article originally appeared in Forbes. Copyright Deep Patel.