Let’s start out with a story…
A young girl always liked stories, and would tell fantastic tales of escapes from museums and babysitters. That girl grew up, but she still lived in stories. She would sit at her computer, turn on some music, and start typing. Great tales about horses, princes, running away, and fancy bedrooms.
However, there was another side to this story, for the girl was ashamed of her writing. For some reason, whenever a knock came at the door, she would hide her work. The tingle of panic would flow through her arms as her mouse darted for the minimize button.
That girl continued to grow, and eventually she went off to college. This would have been a great time to nurture her love of stories and writing. Instead, she studied other things, and soon homework and boys and work crushed her writing. Those years at college was spent without stories of horses, princes, running away, and fancy bedrooms. No one knew that she wrote stories when she was younger, and she was still ashamed.
Now, I bet that you can guess who that little girl was. Yes, it is me. Was me? Since that is in the past. It took me years, and some soul searching, to no longer be ashamed of writing. If someone asked why I was embarrassed about writing, I couldn’t tell you. Maybe it was that I felt “normal” people didn’t fantasize about princes saving a girl from white water rapids. Maybe it was because I felt bad that I wrote a life I couldn’t have. Maybe I didn’t want to be judged for what I was writing. I still don’t know exactly why I was ashamed of writing.
I never wrote a word (in a creative function of course) for years and years. Finally, after being married for some time, my husband encouraged me to start writing again. To help me fall asleep at night I tell myself stories, and to this day I still do. It’s the only way that I can sleep. I had been working on this one story for a year, at least, maybe more. It was about a girl named Zoey who went to work for a king. Eventually, the prince fell in love with her, and after typical romance style plot twists, they got together and lived happily ever after.
I told my husband each morning about the new scenes I had thought of the night before. There came a time that he asked my why I didn’t write it down. I probably blushed and spouted some mumbo jumbo about not being able to. Then I remembered the stories I wrote as a girl.
So, one night after my baby had fallen asleep I started writing. I wrote about five thousand words a day for three weeks. Ninety thousand words later it was done. I was a writer, again. What’s that expression? When it rains, it pours. That was what my life was. Pouring words. I was free. I was finally unburdened after years of being strangled by myself. It hasn’t stopped since then.
Fast forward 3 years
I’ve now written nine books and many millions of words. I am a writer. I am writing.
These last three years have been the best and worst in my life. It’s the most liberating thing to sit down at a keyboard and let my soul escape. Let the click, click of the keyboard express what’s swirling around inside. It’s also terrifying to look at a sentence and realize that you’ve created that. No one is responsible for it, just you. It may be complete shit or gold, but it’s mine.
When you look at a character and see that you’ve just created yourself, it’s terrifying. When you type a snip of dialogue and realize that you just spelled out your deepest fear. When you take your character on an incredible journey and you got to go with them. It’s an entirely different world. That’s what I live for, the adventures, the discoveries, the fears, the joys.
I know as a writer I should have the gift to explain things, to send images into my reader’s mind, but I don’t know how to describe it. I don’t know how to describe the feeling that I get when I sit down and craft a story. It’s like floating on a cloud, feeling the wind whip through your hair, and plucking a star from the night sky.
I set out to be famous, I want the recognition, I want the praise, and I want the attention. That might be a bit odd to admit, maybe egotistical, but it’s the truth. I’m not one to settle on the opinions of myself. I seek outside validation. I want it. I want to know that I’ve made someone smile, or cry, or shake their fist at the ceiling.
Writing is hard work, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. Somedays it’s as natural as breathing; the words just flow, and plots form and characters develop. Somedays it’s harder than standing upright trying to read a newspaper in a tornado.
The way to approach writing is just like any other skill. It is a muscle to be trained and honed and strengthened. It’s like a job. It takes work and long hours and pain. It’s like being a parent. It takes patience and understanding and stress. But it’s worth it. Every ounce of pain is worth it when you type The End and look back on the manuscript before you.
Just because I’m trying to prove a point, I am going to share the unedited opening paragraph of my first story:
I had very few memories of my parents. They died when I was very young. I no longer remembered their faces, or the sound of their voice. I was never told how they died, just one day they did not come home. Soon my parent’s best friends came to get me. Adam and Bea were my family, they were the only parents I remember. The memories I do have of my parents are some of my most treasured. I remember sitting in my father’s library, well some would say bookshelf. I say library. He loved books, all the books he owned were well worn and often read. I do believe I got my love for books from him. My mother was shy and reserved. I am quite sure that the reason I am shy is because of her.
I can see a dozen flaws and even more issues with this one paragraph, but this is my point. I made a decision to be the best writer I can be, and I’m working for that. I spend my time doing what I can to improve. It’s been hard, and some days I throw my keyboard on the ground, swear at it, and storm away. I cry and wallow in my bed. The next day I sit back down and start again. That’s a writer’s life.
Every day I get better, every day that I set my mind to a task, I become better. I will continue to improve because I want to, I want to grow and flourish. There can be no self-improvement when there is no struggle. I can tell you that I will continue to fight, even after I’ve written for decades because I never want to be good enough. I want to be the best I can. I will be the best I can. I will master this because it’s what I want.
Now, back to writing!