Thursday, October 2, 2008

My Journey as a Writer

I've probably been writing as long as I can remember, but I think the moment I realized I wanted to be a writer was around the time I was 10 years old. I had been writing and illustrating little teenage HEAs and letting my friends read them while we sat on a blanket under a tall tree in our yard. Of course, those little stories are long gone. I tossed them in my "I'm an adult now and that's so immature and stupid" phase. In some ways I wish I still had them, just for a good laugh.

I don't remember how old I was at the time my mom told me she had a book she wanted me to read she thought I would enjoy. It was a Harlequin novel called The Guarded Heart by Robyn Donald. I laughed and cried and after that I couldn't get enough of reading romance novels, so I would forage through my mom's collection and read what I could. The stories inspired me and I knew I wanted to write like that.

My family knew I wanted to be a writer- I was always jotting something, staying up late on weekends and during summer vacation to write in notebooks. I took spiral notebooks and pencils and pens with me everywhere I went, in case I wanted to work on something or got an idea. My parents got me a Smith Corona typewriter/word processor and several books about writing and the business for Christmas the year I was 17.

My dad sat me down and warned me that it wasn't an easy business to get into and that I might still have to work a day job if writing didn't "pan out." He told me the writing world could be harsh and critical and I better prepare myself for rejections and disappointments. It wasn't that he didn't believe in me, and he wasn't trying to be mean, he just wanted to make sure that if I dreamed big, I wouldn't see things through rose-colored glasses.

My mom on the other hand encouraged me and told me she knew I had it in me and she believed in me, even though she'd never read anything I'd written other than papers for school. I started writing a lot more in my late teens and early twenties, but somewhere along the line, my fear of failure or success got in the way along with working and just taking care of myself.

I had started writing a novel that was near and dear to my heart because of something personal I had gone through and I needed to get it out, but eventually I got to a part in the story that, emotionally, I wasn't prepared to write. Life again got in the way as well and I stopped working on it and any other writing other than poetry and song lyrics.

That was around the time I was probably about 20 or 21. I didn't pick the story back up until I was 31- a ten-eleven year span of feeling like something important was missing in my life because I wasn't writing.

Throughout those years, I changed jobs, moved away from home and back again, had different relationships it seemed my life had little room for anything else. Then I moved here, got married, became a step mom and then a mommy myself. There wasn't time for writing, no matter how much the desire taunted me constantly that I should be writing something, anything, everything.

In the late summer of 06' a friend's encouragement nudged me into digging out all my old writing papers and ideas. If nothing else, I had to prove I could finish that novel I had been so determined to write all those years before. And I did. I'm not gonna lie though...when I went back and reread it- it was awful...stunk...wasn't fit for anything. I've since done a few rounds of revisions on it and it's beginning to shape up, fingers crossed.

But once I finished it, therein lay the next step- what else could I write and finish and how long would it take me. I was convinced another 10 years. LOL But I discovered National Novel Writing Month shortly after. I took the chance and came away with a 82+K first draft- in a month.

The first person to read something I'd written? I kept my writing to myself for the most part for years. No one read it but me. Fear and insecurity washed over me and there still aren't many who I'll allow to read my writing- at least not at this time....

My husband offered to read it, but never has. My friend offered too but never did...but my biggest supporter? My mother? She said-

"Print that story out and let me borrow it. My daughter wrote a novel and I want to read it because I'm proud of you."

She liked it, bragged on it and told me she knew I could do it- now when was I going to start submitting it to get it published? LOL She says she wants to see me published before she dies, cause it would be a shame if she never go to see me accomplish it. :D

It's still going to be a little while though. I have work to do and lots more to add to a few of my novels that fall short on word count. Given just a little time and hard work and determination, I think it's manageable.

Since then, I've let my sister read my four book series. She liked them, loved them even, though she did have some critiques for me, but with good intentions that helped me clear my head to see what mistakes I had made.

Now to get these others shaped up and extended to a decent word count and polished and I'll see where it goes from there.

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