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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Starting At The Beginning

Good Morning Folks,

One of the questions I often get (and know others, do, too) is "How did you get started writing?" or things like "What drives you?" "When did you know you wanted to be a writer?" So, I thought we could all tell our story. Here's mine:

As a little girl I loved to play make-believe. I was always playing "House" (not the TV show, the actual game of pretending real life...generally pretending to be an adult, at the tender age of 4 LOL). I also had Imaginary Friends, who visited regularly and had their own stories and lives. I even made up a little song. Very simple, not a whole lot of expertise thrown in, but for a kid of around 3, 4 or 5 years of age people were impressed. (Now I'd probably blush if I heard my Dad perform it--Dad, that's not a suggestion!) The song was never written down or recorded, at least, not to my knowledge. For all I know, my younger brother will decide to take the simplistic song and turn it into something spectactular (he's a music composer and quite a talented musician to boot).

Anyway, from there I grew up and wrote simple poetry. Then, in the sixth grade I learned how to 'touch type' on the computer and that's when my writing began to take off. My mother claims things just came rushing out of me. (I don't remember if it rushed out of me, but I do know that ever since I could touch-type, writing has been easier for me--my fingers can keep up with my brain when my handwriting had a harder time keeping up).

In high school, I was asked to put in a poem I wrote into the school's literary magazine (11th grade) then in 12th grade I was on the newspaper staff.

I continued writing poetry and stories throughout high school and then in business school.

The one problem was, while I loved to write and read, I was terrified to even consider submitting. My 11th grade English Teacher kept telling me to go for it, but I hadn't anything I felt was right (mostly I had a lot of unfinished manuscripts).

Eventually I took a writing course from The Writer's Digest School and learned a lot. After realizing this dream was always there, begging to have attention paid to it, I realized I couldn't not write. I had to write. The writing "bug" was inside of me, begging, pleading, screaming to be let out. So, instead of living in fear, I decided, okay, no more living in fear. Regardless of what happens, this is what I want to do.

I've met a lot of people who say "Oh it's just a hobby" or "I'm too scared to share my work." It makes me sad and a little frustrated. I don't want any writer to feel that way. If you love to write, if it holds any big place in your heart, go for it. Work on it. Realistically you can't think: "I'm going to be a hit." Because you don't know. The book industry is constantly changing, growing, developing. Much like a plot. Sometimes a story that might not have sold 5 years ago, makes it huge once it's released. (For example, Stephenie Meyer said she never thought Twilight would be as big as it is. It came as a surprise. While hitting it that big is unusual, her story shows anything can happen in writing. From what I heard, JK Rowling never supposed she would be a gigantic hit).

Writing has been my dream for so long, and I've been writing--A LOT. I also read a ton of books--I "devour" books. This is a serious business, and yeah, there's rejection slips and several requirements, but don't let those things stop you. Every author I've read up on, every published author I've corresponded with or read about has always said to work at it, to pursue, to persevere, to use your determination as a weapon to keep you from giving up. I often hear/read: "don't give up, don't give up."

Believe me, I've been there. The days a story won't "behave" or a character has acted unlike him or herself. A chapter (or more) that has to be cut (and sometimes those cuts can be painful). But then there's the moments where everything clicks into place. Where the inspiration is going strong. Where you remind yourself why you love the project you're working on, when you remember what's driving you.

Don't give up. That's an easy thing to do. But you'll always wonder "What would've happened?" Writers are always working on improving their craft. It's a process, but we all start/started somewhere.

Other writers out there...what's your beginning and what advice do you have for other writers?

Oh, and before I forget. Kudos go out to the following (because no author is without a great group of people standing behind him or her): My dad, my 11th grade English teacher (I appreciate your belief in me, Mrs. G), Mr. and Mrs. S (two really cool people), Ciara Gold (you rock and thanks for the encouragement/support/advice), Tess (genius, wiz, awesome cp), Debbie (editor), Laura Childs (fantastic person and love your mysteries), Stephenie Meyer (for encouraging new/aspiring authors; don't know her personally, but everything I've read that she's said is really nice towards new writers and those who are aspiring writers), Jacqueline Buie (learned a lot from her critique of my work), Kim Lenox (a nice, funny, smart woman who can tell a fun/imaginative tale to boot), Annie Kimberlin (one of her books is Stray Hearts and was kind enough to instant message with me years ago with great advice), Sarah A.B.J.(for all your help and lending your French expertise), Katie H. (for being a fantastic fan), to Les (for letting me parody you), to Shane (encouragement), to Mr. J (also for encouragement), to Jeff M. (encouragement), to my mother (encouragement, support, being my mom) and of course, my husband-- a wonderful, wonderful man and great supporter of my dreams, me and for reading some of my work and believing in me.

So what's YOUR story? Who are some of the members of your support system?

Have A Write Wednesday!

9 comments:

Stephanie Faris said...

I started writing poetry in high school. Cheesy stuff that made Debbie Gibson look like Shakespeare. People would read them and copy them down to keep. In college I went into journalism, which refined my writing skills without the pressure of an English teacher bearing down on me. Then, once I got out of college and worked in PR for a while, writing, I began to think about writing a book. I've been writing ever since, just haven't been actively pursuing publication the whole time.

Anonymous said...

I never liked to read as a child, so I'm not the typical writer who always dreamed of it. But my high school English teacher told us we each had a book inside us...whether it be a how-to, a thriller, a work manual, and that we should always search to find what that book is...years later I realized she was trying to tell us to find our passion.

I always kept that thought in the back of my mind, but since I hated to read...I didn't think it would ever be an issue.

After getting married and while my dh was gone (Air Force kept him away a lot) I began reading books he'd leave behind...Dean Koontze's books from the 80's and 90's...I found a whole other world in those books...then my kids came along and I read Dr. Seuss for years!

About six years ago, we were going to Astroworld (and I can't ride the rides anymore)...so I went to B&N to get a book to read while the family rode...I picked up A Nerd in Shining Armor, by Vickie Lewis Thompson (the first in her nerd series) and I couldn't put it down! I was so excited to really enjoy reading, I read 300 books in a year.

Then Mrs. Chambless' voice kept coming back to me...you have a book in you...I wrote my first book three years ago.

I guess I would have to say thanks to Mrs. Chambless (I finally found my passion!), Dean Koontze (he's a great reason for the mystery that ends up in all my mss), and Vickie Lewis Thompson (for having a book with a great cover to really catch my attention).

I have dozens of people that are so supportive and instrumental in my writing, I can't list them all here.

And Bethany...you're just as awesome!

Tessy

bethanyintexas said...

Stephanie,

Great line "made Debbie Gibson look like Shakespeare." Totally rocks. I think you could use that. Thank you for posting! It was fun reading your story.

bethanyintexas said...

Tessy,

Wow, what an adventure you've had! But hey, glad you're writing now. :-)

Thanks for the awesome. I appreciate it.

:-)

Keep up the great work. I love reading it.

bethanyintexas said...

P.S. I don't usually ride rides at Amusement Parks either. I've ridden ONE roller coaster in my entire life and I was terrified the whole time. That was when I was 12. My first and last roller coaster.

Regina Milton said...

Great concept Bethany! My start was a lot like yours: child make-believe, writing stories, poetry, etc. I dropped it for quite a few years when real life hit (i.e. working full time to go to school full time) and then picked it back up again at the encouragement of a friend (when i was done with school and TIRED of working at jobs that I hated with no fulfillment elsewhere)

bethanyintexas said...

Regina,

Thank you for sharing! Cool "back-story". Keep up the good work

:-)

Ciara Gold said...

I never knew I wanted to write. I hated to read so why would I want to write, but I was naturally good at English. When I was 20, my then MIL gave me a romance to read and all of the sudden, I loved reading and devoured about 4 books a week. A year later, I thought, I can write a romance, and so I set out to write my first romance. I did write that book, 400 pages of dribble on an electric typewriter. It's still collecting dust.

I drafted a few first chapters after that, had two kids and discovered time was at a premium but I continued to draft out first chapters. I didn't write another full novel until I was 45 and my kids were old enough to take care of themselves. But writing is in my blood now, as needful as water. LOL.

Btw, thanks bunches for the kudos! I feel equally blessed by you and others I've met along the way.

bethanyintexas said...

Ciara,

Awww. Not a problem, you've been so warm and encouraging. Also, I enjoy hearing how everyone got started. It's fun to see how people get where they are.