When I was little, my mother took me to a re-release of BAMBI. Thumper recited a poem with a funny ending and said, “I made that last part up myself.” I said, “He can’t do that!” Mom said, “Somebody made up this movie. They got paid for it.” I knew I wanted to write.
I already got in trouble for daydreaming. I remember wanting to learn my letters, to connect them into words and sentences and put my daydreams on paper.
By the sixth grade, I was writing stories and giving them to my teacher to read. She sent one to a contest, where it won honorable mention. That began my acquaintanceship with marketing.
In college, I wrote a novel. It started out as a parody of romantic suspense, with deliberately stereotyped characters and situations. As I wrote, I got interested in the characters and they grew. The plot took its own twists and turns. The conversations carried me in directions I hadn’t expected.
When I finished that book, I wrote another. Then another. Then another.
By that time, I could see the flaws in the first one, and it was obvious why I hadn’t been able to sell it. I’ve rewritten it several times since then, each time learning. I still haven’t sold it, but it’s a good book, and it will sell, once I get it right.
My second, third and fourth novels were picked up by early electronic publishers (Access Press, Serendipity Systems, and Echelon Press).
I wrote a fantasy that just got bigger… and bigger… and bigger! Also stranger. After about twenty years of writing, rewriting, unwriting, backwriting, and insideoutwriting, it’s been picked up — as a trilogy — and will soon be published by Hydra Publications. Yes, I’m talking about SAGE.
I’m a member of the Southern Indiana Writers Group, and we publish an annual anthology of members’ work. Writing and critiquing those stories keep our creative and critical muscles strong.
Here’s some advice I gave a young friend who asked how she could possibly succeed as a writer when there’s so much competition:
As for how you can possibly succeed as a writer, ask yourself what you mean by “succeed”. Do you mean “write well”? That’s what I mean by success, and competition has nothing to do with that. Other writers can only teach me things and help me. They aren’t my competition; they’re my colleagues. Do you mean “sell and make money”? My only hope of that is to write as well as I can, with MY imagination and MY voice and MY skills, and to submit and keep improving and keep submitting.
I’ve never known a good writer who wasn’t generous with his or her advice or help. That’s because most writers are readers, and want as many good writers to succeed as possible so they’ll have more good books to read.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Find a job or profession you didn’t realize exists and imagine a character who does that for a living. I once dated a guy who calibrated the tools used to measure parts to precise specifications. SOMEBODY has to do it!