I love reading the "success stories" on querytracker.net. It's always interesting to read about the writer's journey to "the call." Though I have to admit, there's one question that always makes me flinch: "How long have you been writing?" Aside from the fact there's always some gag-worthy answer like, "I came out of the womb with a pencil in my hand" or "I wrote my first short-story when I was three" (no offense if this applies to any of my readers ;), the question always makes me feel like a bit of an outsider. The truth is, I've never been one of those writers who write because they love writing. For me, it's always been about the stories in my head, and writing is just the medium I choose to express them.
When I was little, my vivid imagination was expressed through play. I was a Barbie FIEND! I'd play for hours on end. If I wasn't playing Barbies, I was playing house with my best friend from down the street. We would wrap old receiving blankets around our waists and heads and pretend we were getting married, or we'd stuff pillows under our shirts and pretend we were pregnant (oh, and remember using crayons as cigarettes?). Ah, yes. Back in the day when kids actually used their imaginations . . .
As I got older, the stories didn't go away, but my means to express them did. In college, I dabbled with the idea of going down some kind of creative path--directing, acting, writing--something that would allow me to share the stories that floated around in my noggin. Unfortunately, practicality won out.
Years (and an early midlife crisis) later, I came to the conclusion I HAD to share these stories. As a SAHM, I couldn't very well go back to school or anything like that. BUT, I could write them down. Of course the idea was terrifying. I'd written angsty-teenage poetry, had a couple things published in my high school literary magazine, journaled, aced college papers, written press releases . . . but writing a novel?
Let's face it, some people have a talented love affair with words. They can bend and sculpt them into beautiful pieces of art. Their stories flow like calm and winding rivers. And then there's me. Writing does not come easy for this girl. Seriously, if you were to come to my house and observe one of my writing "sessions", you would see me type real fast for about maybe five seconds, and then sit staring at my screen for three minutes. This little routine would go on for about an hour, with interludes of backspacing and maybe a little high-lighting and deleting. If I had two pages written after that hour, I would consider it a productive day.
But that's okay. The story is getting written down, and over the past two years I've learned (and continue to learn) to write, to bend and sculpt my words--not so my prose are a piece of art--but so that my readers can see the story in their heads with as much detail and clarity as I see it in my own.
There's a reason I wrote this post today. This has been one of my roughest months as a writer since starting this journey two years ago, and I just wanted to remind myself of what it's all about. Take away the critiques, rejections, self-doubt, and every other negative emotion; and this is what I'm left with: the stories in my head. In the big scheme of things, it doesn't matter whether or not I ever get published. I'm CREATING something. I'm breathing life into something that had previously existed only in my little, crazed mind; and doing this makes me feel good and . . . alive. At the end of the day, isn't that all that matters?