Monday, August 31, 2009

My History on writing

So how did I get into writing in the first place? 

I started writing when I was 15. My Sophomore English teacher gave us an assignment to write a short story. As usual, I procrastinated the assignment and threw together some drivel about how bleak the world around me was during those first few minutes awake. The dreary shadows, the somber mood, how much better it would be if I wasn't alive... you know, happy normal teenager stuff.

It wasn't anything special in my mind, but I after reading to the class, my teacher was nearly in tears and asked to see me after class. At first I thought she was going to turn me in to the School Counselor, but it turned out that she loved it. She praised my story and reccomended that I join the Creative Writing Club. Fearing repercussions for getting beat up for going to that geek-filled club (I was a nerd at best) I turned her down initially.

Once I realized the girl to boy ration in the club however, I finally relented and started showing up once a week to share in student's writing. I ended up enjoying it quite a bit and by my Junior year I had decided to write a novel. I came up with the basic outline and first eight chapters over the next year in between numerous short stories. 

I was clearly very naive about what made good literature, and the glad-handing nature of the writing club didn't help either. Students who don't know how to write themselves hardly make good critics. Most important was us having fun and we all kept writing and sharing. I developed a love for listening to new ideas, and telling stories of my own. I started writing everyday, keeping a free-write journal as well as scouring all the books I could find about the craft. I would carry around a notepad and pen everywhere I went to jot down notes whenever an idea would pop into my mind. 

Unfortunately, life took a different turn after leaving high school and I stopped writing shortly afterwards. My voracious reading habit slowed significantly the more children we had. 15 years and four children later I was barely reading a couple novels a year. The trigger for me was when my oldest daughter started reading what I would consider her first "grown-up" book, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Not wanting to be outdone by an 11 year old, I beat her to the punch by reading all 4 books in that series before she could. 

Reading up on Stephanie's bio online got me thinking. Here is a housewife with small children, lives in my area (Phoenix), and wrote a book in three months while juggling normal family life. 

I was impressed. So much impressed that I couldn't stop thinking about all the dreams and goals I had made in my youth. A little research later and I knew getting something published and making out like Meyer did would be near-impossible, but I still wanted to write. I needed to finish telling my story. I wanted to see my book in hardback whether I was the only one who bought it or not. 

The time was right, I pulled out my old manuscript, and promptly gagged when I read what I had written so long ago. It was horrible, and someday I'll post up the original manuscript. Suffice it to say that about the only thing staying is a couple of the names of the characters and some basic plots. Past that, the baby's been thrown out as well as the kitchen sink and I'm starting from scratch.

I look forward to the upcoming months. I know it will be a lot of hard work, but the end result will be worth it. I'd love to hear anyone else's experiences with writing or comments on my blog!

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