I’ve called myself a writer for as long as I can remember. Storyteller might be more accurate. I started making up stories and telling them to my friends while waiting for the bus and older family members whenever they asked me how I was doing when I was four or five. My tall tales were probably a fanfic amalgam of what I saw on TV, movies and/or read, but I liked telling them. There was nothing like the kick I got of the emotional reactions on my listeners’ faces and the way they asked, “And then what happened?”
Writing, however, has always been a solitary endeavor. Because it was just me, myself and I, it didn’t matter if I was good or bad.
In the late 00’s I decided I wanted to get serious and maybe publish a book. I went to Meetup.com, found a critique group and attended. We were all novices, including the leader, and I wanted feedback from someone more experienced. I’ll admit. I also had a pretty thin skin then and admittedly, didn’t write well enough to be any good at critiquing. What I got out of the multiple meetings I attended was a copy of Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing from one of the members. It was my very first “how to” writing book. It. Changed. Everything.
I started seeing writing less about me making up a story and more about it being a form of art to be studied, like drawing and painting. I knew I could tell what was good or bad by opinion, but I didn’t know why a story was good or bad. I bought more books. That’s about when my husband got a diagnosis for cancer. It was a sad scary time but fortunately a battle he won. He said nope to death. As soon as he got the all clear from the oncologist, I signed up for classes at the local college.
I went back to school to get a degree in Creative Writing full time. Unfortunately, my youngest had some trouble adjusting to first grade. (That saga, I’ll save for my memoirs). I put school and my dreams of becoming a published author on a back burner and took care of that. It was almost more consuming than cancer because with that illness we knew what was wrong and how to treat it. Though their sibling is on the spectrum, ASD sometimes presents differently, and they were misdiagnosed with something else. That is retracted and they are now getting the services they need and mom is free to write.
With the school situation handled, I said to my friend, “Hey. I’m taking this class. Take it with me.” Then in 2016, my friend said, “Let’s take what we wrote for class and do something with it.” She signed us up for Cascades Writers Workshop (http://cascadewriters.com/). I sent the first fifty pages of manuscript that really wasn’t ready for submission to an agent that I met at the workshop. She gave me the most encouraging rejection. I kept at it because I hoped to one day give her something better if she’d take it.
Through Cascades Writers, local classes, Facebook writing groups, Twitter, NaNoWriMo, Worldcon, and Norwescon, I’ve met so many fabulous writers and have found some really great critique partners, who do more than encourage. They’re critique inspired me to be a better writer.
I’ve written so much but never finished a polished drat. The more I went to workshops and cons, the more I felt like an impostor. I also learned more about self-publishing (or indie publishing depending upon who you talk to) and how some authors were doing it by treating it akin to running a small business. They pay professional editors, proofers, cover artists, etc. to make their books look and feel as polished as traditionally published authors. I’ve read a bunch of indie novels that weren’t full of the stereotypical typos and some had better plots and writing than some of the stuff being put out there.
In 2018, I decided that it was going to be the year I wrote a novel, edited it and sent it to a professional editor.
I did the unthinkable, and wrote an outline instead of pantsing, wrote the dang thing, got feedback, rewrote it, edited it and handed it over to a few professional editors for quotes and sample feedback. I got one that met my price range, and quite honestly, was damned good, and hired them.
So, after years of feeling like a wanna be, I’ve done the thing. I’ve written a book! A good one too. Writing gods willing, Scavengers of the Starsea will be out late January/early February 2020.