Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.
This month we were asked – What started you on your writing journey? Was it a particular book, movie, story, or series? Was it a teacher/coach/spouse/friend/parent? Did you just “know” suddenly you wanted to write?
A Long, Meandering Path
Often authors are asked what started them on their writing journey. Their answers (from this side of the print) always seem so self-assured and definite. “Oh, I’ve always written.” “From the time I was a little girl I was scribbling stories.” Or, they always had a precise moment in time they can point back to that directed them down the path of authorship.
I’ve always been jealous when I read those answers.
I haven’t always written. I can’t think of a single moment in time that pointed me in this direction. In fact, I still have my moments of feeling like an imposter. It feels as if I’ve stepped into someone’s ‘author’ shoes that they left lying on the floor and nobody’s noticed that their not my shoes yet.
Now, I’ve always read. Since I was able to start deciphering the cryptic letters on a page and realize they created words which told stories, my nose has not been out of a book since. But writing the stories? Why, that was for the ‘real’ authors; Madeleine, L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time), Hugh Lofting (Dr. Doolittle books), or E.B. White (Charlotte’s Web).
There was that period during senior year when I filled pages with teenage angst filled poetry – but that was work that earned its place in the rubbish bin. It doesn’t count.
I might have dipped a toe in the world of writing sooner – but a room full of peers in a creative writing class in college delayed that action for many, many years. I don’t even recall the first story that I penned that I took to class for critique. Oh, lordy, I still remember the soul-crushing reception my words received. It would be many, many (many) years before I’d attempt writing again.
I was talking about writing with a long-time friend one day. “But you’ve always written,” she said.
“No. I haven’t.”
“Yes, you have. Look at all the newsletters you’ve done over the years. And the small cookbooks you made for the herb store you had.”
But…that wasn’t real writing. One was a cooking newsletter which was a Christmas present in the days when I had to deliver Christmas to family, friends, and one young child on less than $100. The herbal newsletter was when I was trying to get my small herb and garden store up and going and desperately needed a few extra dollars. The little cookbooks to sell in the store? Another cash generating idea. But…you see, typing recipes and relaying herbal information about how to grow and craft with different herbs doesn’t count as ‘real writing’.
And then, after all the years, the boys grew up and moved out. I moved. Finally, I grew up. And it seemed that suddenly there were stories spilling out of my heart and onto the page, and the faster I try to tell them, the more the tide flows in bringing more tales with it. Okay, and a pushy Grandma from heaven who wanted her story told helped me along the path a little sooner than my dragging feet were ready for.
And the critics looming in the background? The cousins to the other students in the college creative writing class from so long ago? Oh, they still make a peep now and then. But the difference is that now I keep going, despite criticism and negative remarks. I know I’m not perfect yet. I’m not where I’d like to be as a writer…yet. But I keep tapping away at the keyboard. And now, the peers I hang out with are much more supportive and we applaud each other’s progress as we journey down this writing road together.
I’d tell you more…but I’ve got ghosts from the past whispering in my ear wanting their story told next. Must. Get. Writing.