Why I Began to Write
My father is a writer, and his job always looked pretty cushy to me: He’d lay on the couch for a while, muttering, then maybe take a walk, or retreat to his study to bang on the typewriter. He got to wear ratty clothes, and snack whenever he wanted. Sure, there were lean times when we waited for one of his checks to materialize in the mailbox – and there were tense times when my father’s single copy of his manuscript was in the U.S. mail system, en route to his publisher’s office in New York - but all in all, it seemed like a sweet gig.
When I was a kid, I decided to give it a whirl. I loved to read – I still have the complete set of Nancy Drew books from my childhood – so I wrote a mystery called “The Lost Gold” that just happened to feature confident teenage girl heroines (though, sadly, none with titan hair or a zippy red roadster). But I discovered something: I wasn’t just imitating my Dad. I really liked writing. There was something so satisfying about putting together a piece of work, in creating a story with a beginning, middle and end. In some ways, merging all of the elements of fiction is like figuring out a jigsaw puzzle – something I’ve always enjoyed.
I know a lot of authors who came to fiction-writing via a meandering path: They started out in another occupation altogether, until they could no longer ignore the call of the keyboard. A lot of them were dissuaded from trying to create books– told it was too difficult of a career in which to achieve stability or success. I’m incredibly lucky to have been born to a man who adores writing, who stuck with it even when the checks were slow to arrive in our mailbox or the right words refused to shake loose from his brain (hence the muttering and pacing). Because by following his example, I’ve found the career of my dreams.
I don’t think, at this point, that I could stop writing. I just finished my third book and turned it into my editor last week. And even though I’m overloaded with other projects, ideas for my next book are seeping through my mind, like wisps of fog through a tree’s branches. I’m filled with excitement at the thought of breaking down a book into scenes, of creating characters, of getting those characters into big unholy messes, and helping them find their way out again. I know there will be times when I’ll hate my work in progress – rail against it, resent it – and times when the words will flow easily and I’ll sit back in my chair, wondering where the hours have gone while I’ve been immersed in my fictional world.
I’d love to hear about your path to writing, too. Are you a published author – or is crafting a book something you’re still dreaming about doing?