Nineteen-Year-Old Queen’s Student, Hailey Rodgers, Publishes Book

In high school, I looked up to this passionate, hard-working and determined student, Hailey Rodgers. I admired her ability to stay focused amid everything that life had thrown at her. It was no surprise to me when she told me she was writing a book in less than a year at the age of nineteen. From there, See Me was written and published. See Me is about the importance of living authentically as a young adult. Throughout the book, you are taken through the lives of many young leaders in today’s society who have learned how to be successful by being authentic. I’ve had the chance to ask Hailey about how she successfully wrote this book while being in business school full time. Here's what she had to say...

Tell me about your journey to writing this book.

Beginning in January 2019, I was approached by one of my best friends, Julia Sun. She told me she was offered to write a book through an organization called Creator Institute, that was looking for additional passionate writers to embark on this (crazy, insane, unimaginable) journey. She asked me if I wanted to hop on board and write a book in less than a year. At first, I was perplexed at the thought of writing a book while in school, working part-time, and participating in various extracurricular activities. Instead of succumbing to self-doubt and being intimidated by this daunting endeavor, I thought to myself, “Why the hell not?”

At the beginning of my writing journey, I had no idea what I was writing about. I started off writing one story, and then another, and after writing over twenty stories, I was able to string them together into something beautiful and enriching. These stories, despite their incredible uniqueness, all demonstrated the power and art of authentic living. That was what I decided my book would be about. 

By September 2019, in my hands were 70,000 words. I had completed an entire manuscript. After writing, editing, and marketing my book for 7-8 hours per day for the past year, I still never thought I would have gotten this far.

I finally published my first-ever book on December 9, 2019. To this day it feels unreal that I’m a published author.

Why did you decide to write about being authentic? It seems like a pretty advanced topic for such a young leader.

Since my first year of university, authenticity has been my biggest value. In high school, this was a trait I lacked, as I always felt compelled to be someone I wasn’t. At the time, I experienced significant mental health problems, which I’m sure many can relate to. The main thing I experienced was unhappiness and this hopeless craving for success. Midway through my first year of university, I started writing for Her Campus as a way to express who I truly am. As soon as I began writing authentically it began to translate into other aspects of my life, and suddenly I was living authentically. As I started to live authentically, I became happier and began achieving my goals.

I realized that there was a gap that I was missing during high school. In order to feel successful and happy, I had to be authentic. I am fortunate to have been able to realize this at such a young age as I see so many young adults experience this struggle until they are perhaps in their forties or fifties. So I asked myself, “Why not now? Why can’t we be authentic now at this young age?”

My goal with this book is to inspire authentic living in young adults because we all deserve to feel confident in who we truly are.

How did the idea spark to write a book? How did you have the resources, time, etc.? 

I honestly never thought at nineteen, or even at all for that matter, that I would write a book. I went into this whole process with no expectations, rather only my passion and love for writing. As I continued to build my manuscript, the more “real” this whole journey felt. 

It’s funny though, I spent approximately 7-8 hours a day writing, editing, and marketing this book for the whole year, yet I managed a part-time job, extracurriculars, exercise, and school and I was never at one point stressed. My grades also went up. I became extremely efficient with my time and did not allow myself to get worked up over the small stuff. I just took it one day at a time and rewarded myself even on the days when I wasn’t so inspired. I think being kind to myself was a huge factor that allowed me to achieve so much this year.

Have you always been a reader? If so, what type of books do you usually read? 

When I was in Grade 7 and 8 I would read 1-2 books per week. I would read entire trilogies like The Hunger Games and Divergent. However, when I got to high school and first year of university, I lost touch with reading because I was so busy. However, in the summer of 2018 (before I started writing my book) I started reading self-help and motivational books. These books ultimately inspired my writing. I learned that I had to read in order to write. I have learned that with reading I could 1) learn incredible ideas, 2) get inspired, and 3) find a powerful way to de-stress.

I’m sure you were faced with writer's block at times. How did you overcome this? 

Writer's block has been an interesting concept to me. I actually don’t believe anyone can truly have writer's block. I believe people use writer's block in place of being scared to write. People are really afraid to write something if it’s not perfect the first time they write it (I too have experienced this). So rather than starting, they say they have writer’s block. The only way to overcome this self-imposed limitation is to just START. Pick up your pen and just write something even if it makes no sense or may be taken out later. As soon as you start, it gets easier as you continue to write. I truly believe that an ingenious piece of work doesn’t come through writing a story, rather it’s through the constant editing and revising that makes a writer’s work flourish. As soon as you get it down on paper, then the magic will happen. I truly believe that that’s what makes writing so beautiful. You can continuously grow with it. 

Who inspired you, motivated you, mentored you, through this journey of writing a book? 

So many people. The founder of Creator Institute, Eric Koester, who showed me that anyone at any age can write a book. My editors and marketing team who pushed me to go beyond my limits. My mom and dad who never doubted my capabilities. My friends including Julia Sun, Alexa Meeson, Amanda Miller, and many more who cheered me on throughout my journey. Everyone who funded my pre-order campaign, to whom I am very grateful. There were so many people and if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be a published author today.

Did you have a favourite place to write that sparked your creativity? 

As weird as it sounds, the place (or thing for that matter) that gave me the most inspiration was driving around by myself in my car with the music turned up full blast. During the summertime when I did most of my writing, I would drive my car up to Fort Henry in Kingston every single night at sunset and do a lot of self-reflection. In addition, the Wolfe Island Ferry was another great escape to think and reflect when I was writing my book, which I rode every Sunday. I spent a lot of time alone this year to allow myself to reflect on so many things in my life, which ultimately gave me the inspiration I needed to write this book.

Did you have any writing experience before this book? 

In high school I excelled in English and Writer’s Craft, both being my favourite courses. I didn’t think much of it when I got to university as I’m pursuing a degree in Commerce. However, midway through my first year, I was exposed to a platform called Her Campus, where university students can publish articles on a bi-weekly basis. I began writing for them to involve myself in extracurriculars but I ended up absolutely LOVING it. As an introvert, Her Campus opened up the opportunity for me to express myself in ways that I cannot define. As I continued writing for them, my writing improved exponentially and after one year on the club, I was presented with this opportunity to write a book. After writing my book, I decided to launch my own blog. If you can’t tell, writing makes my heart pump. 

What is one thing you wish you had known before writing See Me? 

When I first started writing this book, I had no idea what I was writing about. I really didn’t know that I would actually write the book. It was something that I just went for and decided to embrace the unexpected. I think that that’s what made this journey so fulfilling: I went into it with no expectations either than the passion and love for craft.

Now that I have actually published my book, I have decided the world of authorship is the world I want to be in. I am currently a Commerce student and sometimes I feel the pressure to get a corporate job after school but my heart is telling me that that’s just something I don’t want to do. I want to keep writing. Being an author is a risk I’m willing to take. For now, my goal is to remain both humble and proud and to keep working hard so that I can publish another book.

Where can people buy your book? 

I am currently selling paperback books and eBooks on Amazon. I am hoping to get into some local mom and pop shops in the Ottawa Valley and Kingston region as those are areas where I grew up. As of right now, I plan to sell at The Book Nook and Backbeat Books and Music in Perth, Ontario. I hope to also have my book be available in libraries to ensure accessibility. 

There is no doubt that Hailey is a remarkable young woman. She is a prime example of living authentically. Her hard work and determination doesn't go unnoticed. See Me has already reached #1 Best Seller on Amazon after just being released for a few days. I have already read almost the entire book in one night. I just couldn’t stop turning the pages. Every chapter is another inspirational story that encourages you to live your authentic life. I recommend See Me to any young adult, parent, or any person of any age that wants to live more authentically. I can’t wait to see where the future of writing takes Hailey.