Olivia Alcabes
November 17, 2012

Each one of us admires someone in our lives, and normally there’s someone who admires us. It almost seems that human beings have something genetically coded into their DNA to copy the actions of others in order to improve ourselves. We see these people as heroes, role models, and trailblazers.

To be a hero means to do something that helps other people. It may not teach them anything, but it does help them. Sometimes, the act might be saving someone’s life, career, or family, or it could be other smaller actions. To be a role model means that others look up to you and want to be like you. It’s like a little kid, who, when she “grows up” wants to be like her mother. There are many different reasons someone might be a role model, and a lot of the time not everything about the person is admirable.

Also, there are trailblazers. They are people who, in a metaphorical sense, cut down the branches to set a trail for others to go through. They not only get through it themselves, but make it easier for everyone else behind them as well.

When I was choosing who my role model would be, I knew I wanted to choose someone strong. I wanted someone who could accept help, but didn’t necessarily need it in order to get what they want or need. That’s what I want to be like. I want to be able to take matters into my own hands and still come out with the desired result. Some of my values go along with that, like determination and independence. Also, when I get older, I want to be a writer. It seems only fitting that I should try to find a writer who is independent and determined and able.

In early 2011, I found an article about a young writer, Amanda Hocking, and began to read some of her books. Most of them are paranormal teenage dramas, and after reading one, I was hooked. When it came to thinking about role models, not only was Amanda a good writer, but the actions she took to become a successful author displayed the values of determination and independence.

I chose Amanda Hocking to be my hero/role model because she shares many values with me, like determination, independence, and most importantly, creative writing. At the beginning of her career, Amanda had a job that had nothing to do with writing – she was a group home worker until 2010 and lived off very little pay. Still, there was something special about her. She wanted to write. In Amanda’s spare time, she wrote a variety of novels and sent them to many different publishing houses, but no one would purchase them. She was constantly rejected. Finally, Amanda gave up on traditional publishing methods. She learned about self-publishing, and thought that with the Kindle out she might have a shot. It was a few years ago, when there was only the Kindle, not the variety of other e-readers that exists today.

So little by little, Amanda Hocking began turning her stories into ebooks. It started out slowly, with only a few sales a day, but before long people began to talk and ebooks began to be bought and Amanda began selling books. Really selling books. Suddenly, there were articles written about her, the “overnight sensation”. Her book, Switched, got onto the New York Times bestseller list, a personal dream of hers, and Amanda became a millionaire. It was then that the traditional publishers took notice and saw that Amanda Hocking was an author to watch. Her perseverance paid off. A bidding war took place, with many of the publishers who had rejected her now taking an interest. Amanda signed a contract, made a deal, and finally there were paper books in stores with her name on them.

In January 2012 I went to Amanda’s first book signing. There, I talked to her and gave her my email address. In March I sent her a few questions that I thought could help me write this paper. It was really cool to meet her and to talk to her, and I appreciate that she took some time to answer my email.

Amanda’s own role models have been consistent through her life. She looks up to her mom and is very inspired by Jim Henson (the creator of the Muppets). Actually, the reason Amanda put her first book on Amazon.com was so that she could raise enough money to go to a Jim Henson exhibit in Chicago.

When I asked Amanda about being a hero, a role model, or a trailblazer, she said that she actually didn’t feel like any of them. She said, “I feel like someone who likes to write, and who hopes other people enjoy what I write.” Unlike other people who could let the fame and fortune go to their heads, Amanda is really just doing what she always wanted to do – write, and have other people read it. I asked her what she would be doing if ebooks and self-publishing had never been developed, and she said, “I know if I wasn’t published yet, I would still be writing. I’ve always had to write, so that definitely wouldn’t have stopped.” This is another reason I think of her as a role model – for her, the fame and fortune are just little details of living her dream. She values Creative Writing, as do I.

To me, Amanda Hocking isn’t necessarily a hero. She didn’t do some great act of goodness that helped many people; her writing mostly just helped herself. There are some attributes of hers that make me think of her as a role model. I want to be able to take my life into my own hands and come out victorious. Of course, I don’t really want to get as desperate as she was. Amanda really is a trailblazer. Suddenly, many other people who have been trying and trying to get published and still aren’t, have inspiration. It’s possible, someone has done it successfully. She cut through those branches in the forest and gave other people, like me, the hope that maybe we could walk through ourselves.

Amanda Hocking has made a difference in the world. I know that not only has she inspired lots of other writers, but she’s also given them hope. She was determined to get herself out into the world, committed to making her dreams come true, and was a trailblazer for many other writers. Amanda Hocking is my hero/role model because she made a difference – something I would like to do in my life as well.