Monday, February 13
Origins Blogfest: the chicken or the egg?
Today's blogfest is brought to you by DL Hammons along with co-hosts Alex J Cavanaugh, Katie Mills, and Matthew MacNish. The 'fest is all about how we got started on the writing journey. Thanks for dreaming this up, guys. I'm looking forward to reading about what lit the spark for other writers!
Sometimes I wonder if I write because I was born a writer or if I am a writer only because I write. I've always loved books. My world was all about books, books, books. After all, I lived in the boonies, only had one really bad tv channel, and didn't get out much. From junior high on, I'd written short stories, decent ones, and some poems, really bad ones!
By the time I got to college, I had quite a collection of stories and gained a lot of encouragement from my instructors and the Dean of the English Department. I was majoring in English, and then I started on the newspaper. The writing there burned me out so hardcore that I stopped reading and then stopped writing. I couldn't look at a book without feeling nauseous. I didn't finish college. Still haven't, I'm sorry to say.
Roll forward thirteen years. I was in the Navy, separated over a year from family, out to sea on deployment, and still hadn't cracked a book open other than what I had read to my kids. We'd gotten a box of books in, and when your life becomes work-sleep-work-sleep-work-sleep-work, you'll do just about anything to break the cycle. So I began reading again, and reading and reading. I was reading one to two books per day. I ran out of books. We got a new shipment which included a famous series. All the girls read and hated it. After a lot of discussion, we decided what we wanted to see in a novel, and I was challenged to write one.
Thus the gauntlet was thrown, and for the first time, I was up for the challenge. I wrote my first manuscript in less than four weeks. It was only for fun, I swear, but they loved what I wrote. I was asked to write about some of the other characters, and I realized I loved the way I felt when I was writing. I loved how it felt to share the writing and how it felt to talk about the stories with people who loved the stories.
Two years later, I have three finished manuscripts with plenty of nibbles for them and about two dozen other ms pans in the fire. I know if I keep learning, keep improving, and keep my dedication, I will succeed. I'll someday share my work with readers who enjoy what I write.
If I could name one person who was most influential, I would have to say it was my friend, Natalie. She was my alpha and my beta reader. She kept me going when I might have slacked off. Now, I'm happy to say she's writing a book of her own, too, that I'm excited about. If I could name a close second, I would say that was my friend, Jenny. Her feedback has guided my writing in the right direction, and her support gave me the warm-fuzzies to keep going. She doesn't write, but she truly gets me when it comes to my writing. I never get those 'she's crazy' looks from her when I talk about characters like they're real people.
So I wonder if I've always been a writer. I went without even thinking about it for more than thirteen years, but once I started, it was like a dam bursting. In two years, I've written a lot more than some people write in ten. Was it there all along, lurking under the surface? If we're writers at heart first who write to fulfill a need, maybe it was. If writing makes us writers, well then I guess I wasn't one for half of my life. I believe that ratio will change over time because I don't think I could ever dam it back up again. Writing is the light of my life now, and I wouldn't give it up again for anything.
Thanks for reading about my origins. If you're participating in the blogfest, I'll be visiting a little late-like today because I have to get home from work before I can make the rounds. Thanks again to our wonderful hosts!