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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How I Started Writing

Another topic request blog post--How I started writing. (Remember, if you have anything you'd like to hear me talk about, feel free to leave it in a comment or send a Twitter comment or email me.)

I've always had stories in my head. I distinctly remember as a very small child, maybe 6 or 7, playing Barbies with my friends. They'd be done and ready to do something else, but I had an elaborate scenario to take Barbie and Ken through first. And FYI, even at this tender age, my "characters" were having romances. Maybe not sophisticated romances, but I was in grade school.

The stories stayed even when the dolls were put away. Dragged by my parents to something boring? I'd find a corner, sit down, and play stories through my head until we could go home.

Writing these stories down never occurred to me until 8th grade. One of my best friends at the time started writing a story using the entire class as characters. She paired "me" up with my teen actor heartthrob and passed her notebook around with each new installment. Well, you knew it was bound to happen sooner or later, right? She wrote "me" doing something I didn't like. I asked her to change it and she refused because it was her story. So I was like, hey, I can write stories, too!

And I did. Only I didn't use people in my class as characters. That might have been my original intention--I can't remember--but I had characters show up. Real characters.

Thus began my own scribbling in notebooks as I wrote angsty YA romance. My friend gave up writing that school year, but I didn't. In 9th grade, I joined the school newspaper. In 10th grade, it was the yearbook staff and I was editor my senior year. I took every writing class I could get myself into, including taking 2 English classes my senior year even though I wasn't supposed to be able to do that. They made an exception for me because I was such a good student. heh!

I knew by the time I was in high school that I wanted to be a novelist when I grew up. I also knew even back then that fiction writing didn't pay much for most writers. Being a Capricorn and hugely attracted to financial security, I decided to major in Journalism. I could write and get paid for it. Well, I did get the degree from the School of Journalism, but I went to work for the airline instead. Speaking of tenuous financial security. :-/

The writing bug never died, though. I continued to take writing classes wherever I could find them. And I wrote off and on for years. I finished my first book at 24, but for a long stretch, I'd start books and never get farther than chapter 3. My perfectionism drove me to revise and revise and revise until I was so bored, I'd move on to something different.

Then I reached a point where I realized I had to finish books if I wanted to, you know, sell them. I finished two others. And then I didn't write for almost 2.5 years. I like to think of that time as working on me, becoming a better, more grounded person.

And then I was driving home from work one day in 1999 (I think) and I saw a woman huddled on the floor with her arms wrapped around her knees. I knew something bad had happened, but I didn't know what. I started writing again and 18 months later, Ravyn's Flight was finished. Y'all know the rest.