Monday, May 19, 2014

How I Found the Write Path


I wrote the letter to Stephen King as my longtime inspiration.

 
Dear Mr. King,

I read your book, IT, when I was still in elementary school. It was the first book I remember ever reading up to that point in my life. We couldn't afford books in my house and walking to the library wasn't something one did lightly in my neighborhood. My mom often warned me of the dangerous world we lived in where children were abducted and ducking from bullets was taught at a young age. I lived in Chicago.

But the library was worth the risk.

After finishing IT, I knew that I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to create worlds and characters and put them through impossible odds to see how they come out at the end. This was a turning point in my life. At fourteen, I started writing anything that came to me—horror, fantasy. It became hard to shut off the part of my brain that controls imagination. I saw stories everywhere.

Twenty something years flew by when I found myself staring down that same path: writing. It was then that I started learning how to write. I purchased how-to books, made wonderful friends online, and even started submitting. Three years later I published my first short story and soon after my first novel.

The road was not what I expected and I regret waiting so long to realize that my imagination was not going anywhere and the incessant call to write was part of me. I regret thinking back then that I had to take a "just in case" career.  Although, my personal experiences shaped the writer I would become.

I learned a few things in the twenty something years from inspiration to execution

·        Writing can be learned.

·        The small press experience was not what I expected but it was right for my career at that point.

·        The work doesn't finish when you write "the end" on the page.

·        Writers wear many hats…many, many hats

·        I learned to cherish the relationships I made online with fellow writers. I am a lurker and rarely reach out and ask for help, but when I have, I found amazing people there to help. They are an awesome family and probably the only ones that will ever understand me.

·        I learned to measure success by what I can control. I can't control an agent's taste, but I can make sure my query and work shines. I can't control a review, but I can ground myself in reality to keep from being discouraged.

·        I learned never to compare myself with another writer. Every journey is different.

If I could go back to my younger self I'd tell her to believe in her dreams, to learn everything there is about writing a compelling story, and not to rush submissions. Follow your gut. And if everything turns out totally bad, blame the muse.
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18 comments:

  1. What a brilliant letter! I can relate to everything you wrote here (apart from dodging bullets...lol)

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  2. You read IT in elementary school? Geez...I wouldn't have slept until I reached high school. LOL LUV King!

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  3. Awesomeness! I love your line "I saw stories everywhere." Mark of a true author.

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    1. Sometimes I wish I could turn it off. =)

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  4. Great letter! Stephen King was my inspiration to write too. The first book I read of his was Cujo.

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    1. I've never read Cujo. I saw the movie. =)

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  5. I remember writing a letter to Stephen King when I was in sixth grade. I wonder how many kid letters he receives. I wonder if it ever disturbs him to know kids are gobbling up his work...probably not! LOL

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  6. There's nothing quite like being afraid while being safe. I haven't found many YA horror books.

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  7. Measure success by what you can control... That's awesome advice. It's so easy to get caught up otherwise and become depressed.

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    1. Goals you can control keep you sane. =)

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  8. Some great home truths there. I've written whole series of blog posts on all the things that have to happen after you write "The End", and on the many hats we have to wear, so those points especially resonated for me.

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  9. The twenty years were all about growing and learning. It was a shame that books weren't readily available when you were young, but I'm glad you went for it and got that initial spark that stayed with you (from a heck of a scary book!)

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    1. Thanks. I have a special place in my heart for libraries. =)

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  10. "I learned to measure success by what I can control."

    Now THAT is an important lesson! :) Thank you so much for participating, Elizabeth. Let me know if you want this to be included (with permission) in the e-book!

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