Danielle Hartman-Acee Talks about Developing her Grit

Danielle Hartman-Acee Talks about Developing her Grit

Danielle H. Acee helped promote both my book, Gathering Strength: Conversations with Afghan Women and my online courses, including Mastering Your Procrastination: a Participatory Course. She is owner of The Authors’ Assistant, a writer’s one-stop-shop for editing, publishing, and promotional services. Her story showing how she developed her grit follows.

I grew up in what I believe to be a typical middle class, American home with “American Dream” values. You ate your peas and carrots, graduated high school, went to college, and found your lifetime career and husband as soon as you hung up your graduation cap and gown. So, at age 22 I settled into a secure associate editor position for a national trade publication. I figured I had landed the job I would retire from considering I had been told throughout the four years of college that I wouldn’t be able to do anything useful with an English Literature degree. Plus, I had watched my parents and grandparents follow the prescribed and predictably secure path.

After sitting in my newspaper cubicle for six years the shine had rubbed off on my job and while at dinner with friends I was yet again griping about the soul-sucking idea of staying with the company for 35 years. The friends at that dinner table gave me the kick in the pants I needed. Either I find a new job or never complain about the newspaper again.

After serious soul searching regarding my career goals I decided reading and promoting good literature, along with giving back to the community I loved, was what I was passionate about, so I volunteered for the Austin Public Library to test the waters for pursuing a career in Library Sciences.

While volunteering for Austin Public Library’s used bookstore, Recycled Reads, I met my mentor. She was a librarian and also a manuscript editor! What luck! My first step out into exploring career possibilities that align with my life goals AND I meet a mentor who took me under her wing! She quickly introduced me to a few authors who were needing help with social media and copyediting.

For the first time in my life I felt my career goals align themselves with something I enjoyed doing in my spare time. That was when the grit hit. I couldn’t contain my desire to learn as much as I could about the publishing industry and how it was evolving in the 21st century. I read, took numerous courses involving publishing practices and marketing and through word-of-mouth I found more and more writers needing my help. Seven years later, I am currently working with 23 talented writers.

Grit came because I took the time to think about my personal American Dream, even though it looked very different from what I had been told to imagine. Grit came because I dared to venture out from the cubicle walls of my secure newspaper job. Grit came because I opened myself up to the opportunity to meet a woman who was following the career path I wanted to take.

My advice to anyone feeling stuck in their job is to take the time to envision your personal “American Dream,” and if you act upon that vision, your grit will come.

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