I’m one of those rare people that’s actually still doing what they wanted to do in elementary school. You know, the dream job that you’re sure 90% of your classmates will change their minds about. True, the job seemed (A) a whole lot easier and (B) a whole lot more rewarding– but that’s beside the point. I didn’t know what I was getting into, but I knew I wanted to see my name on a bookshelf one day… well, on a book on a bookshelf.
My beginning as a writer was understandably modest. I was a second grader with a composition book and dull pencil, trying to scribble out my daily journal assignments. One day, instead of blandly delineating the events of the previous day, I decided to take a different tack. I began writing this story about a witch getting trapped in a haunted house, and ended up writing it over three months. My teacher (who I credit as my first fan) took the time to type up all of those journals and print them out.
My muse resurfaced in middle school. I went through seven notebooks and three fantasy worlds, each time convinced I would actually do the impossible: write a novel. Of course, there was this little thing called school in the way, and I hadn’t nearly read enough to know what a good book really was made up of. I ended shelving all of those maps and characters away (although I did end up using certain places and characters from those later).
It wasn’t until high school hit that I really realized I could fulfill those old childhood dreams. One book (Conflict and Suspense by James Scott Bell) changed everything. I read it through five times, and learned everything I needed to enliven my stories and make readers care. I started reading blogs, and examining books that I read for plot points, scene structure, character archetypes, and all the other lingo. I started thinking like a writer– and from there, it never let me go.
Of course, even though I was on the right path, I ended up awkwardly stuck in the brambles more times than I’d like to admit. Several book ideas came, but I didn’t have the perseverance to follow with it for more than a month. Another idea would come and I’d rush after it instead. It took several tries (and an incredibly supportive online community on Writer’s Digest) to develop my voice and style, and even then, I knew there would always be room for improvement.
Today, I’ve written one book, and I’m in the middle of writing another. Kudos to a Dickinson collection received in my junior year, I also began writing poetry (that was a whole new ball game, believe me). All of this isn’t to brag. Not in any way. Sure, I’m proud of what I’ve done. But, in the end, I know that hard work alone didn’t get me this far. I don’t like to assume what God’s will is, but every year I see more clearly that He put a pencil in my hand and ideas in my head. That doesn’t mean I don’t contract writer’s block and proceed to bash my head on the keyboard about once a week. However, I know He wouldn’t have given me all of those years and experiences for nothing. I’m confident that one day, I’ll see my name on that bookshelf, and I will have God to thank for it.
And the publisher, but, you know… I’m trying to stay spiritual here.