I have always loved to dream. It is what helped me get through those lonely years growing up as the youngest one in my family. Most times I just didn’t fit in. I was either the odd one that couldn’t spark up a conversation or the youngest one in the group and no one wanted the baby to tag along. So I was a loner.

Since the day I could form a sentence, I was writing. It allowed me to escape the loneliness in my own life. In school, I ate alone. At recess, I played alone. At home, I had my own room and stayed in it most of the time. Boys weren’t interested in me and I didn’t have the group of cool girls wanting to be my friend. I had my notebooks. I had my dreams.

When I turned 12, I wrote my first full-length novel and called it Nothing to Lose. I couldn’t control my own life so it gave me the ultimate joy to be able to control my characters. Once I experienced that control, I knew I wanted to be a published author.

But all those dreams and hopes came to a standstill the day I became a mother — at 16.

Like many people I had a praying mother, one who was involved in my life and fed me teachings from the Bible daily. But once I entered high school and my body began to change, so did my thought process. I no longer wanted to be the loner. I wanted to be known. My mistakes led me to being a teen mother, and again, I was back to being a loner. No hanging out when I wanted to and no freedom. In the midst of teen parenting, I forgot all about my dream, my writings.

It wasn’t until my own mother passed that I picked up my pen and paper again. She had passed and I had to be a mother on my own. This was, without a doubt, my darkest hour. My mother was my rock, my best friend, and despite my mistakes, she never discouraged me. Around now is when I wrote my first published novel, The Ultimate No-No, now considered one of urban fictions classic pieces.

I didn’t know I was going to start my own publishing company, Delphine Publications, at 21, but I did. It was the result of hard work and sheer determination to overcome my darkest hour.

I am often asked now how did I do it? How did I not give up? I listen to people who say I inspire them. I often wonder what exactly they see in me. Do they see that teen mother who struggled with low self-esteem, who sometimes didn’t have enough money to buy diapers? If they only knew that their positivity motivates me to move forward and to not give up.

So to any woman out there in her “darkest hour.” Yes, you with the dream. Always remember that faith without work is dead. Grab a pen and paper NOW and write down your to-do list, and then start at number one. Every little action counts. Your dream starts now.

tamika-newhouseTamika Newhouse, a four-time African American Literary Award winner, is CEO of Delphine Publications and the author of six urban fiction titles. The company has sold over 80,000 titles worldwide.