Tuesday, May 29, 2012
When I was young, books were everything. I started reading at 2 and haven't stopped since. Dad tells me that the first words I read were off a printed page of a TV Guide, but no matter, I was hooked from then on.
I remember as a little girl sitting Indian style and placing a huge stack of picture books on the left side of me, determined to teach myself to become better and better at reading. I'd pick one up, read it cover to cover, and move onto the next, excited to transport myself to a new world. Don't get me wrong, I loved being outside climbing trees, making rafts and catching guppies with my brothers, but with reading, my CP never hindered me. I could do anything--or be anything--I wanted to be, even a baseball player, a superhero or a cyclist. With reading, my body never mattered.
I guess it was only natural that my love for reading would progress to a love for writing. At four, I have a fuzzy memory of announcing to my grandmother what I wanted to be when I grew up. "I want to make my own books forever," I told her. She explained to me that what I was describing was called being an author.
"Okay, that's what I want."
"Then that's what you'll be," she said simply.
Naturally, I didn't understand as a preschooler how difficult it was to get your foot in the door of the publishing world, or the uncertain career writers can often have. If I wanted to be a writer, I would. At 6, my school had a young authors contest. I decided to craft my first story, titled "The Bear who Got Lost". I vaguely remember it being about a stuffed animal who was looking for her home and the young girl she was separated from. At the end of the book, the bear wakes up in her toy box, relieved that it was all a dream. Looking back, the ending didn't make much sense, but it was impressive for being only six. I won my first award that year and I can recall that the other winners were 4th and 5th graders. Mom was so proud.
I continued entering contests until middle school, when I joined the school news paper and participated creative writing classes. I'll shyly admit here that I received a lot of praise for my work over the years, although I oddly never paid much attention to it. I never created a story for academic approval or to be accredited by peers. I wrote not only because I wanted to--I needed to. Every thought and feeling that has consumed me over the years I've recorded. Once that pen hit the paper, I was free of it. Through life events I created fictional stories, poetry and journal entries. Even as my mother was losing her battle with cancer, I wrote those life events and emotions down in a journal.
In 1999, I was unknowingly on the verge of being published. One of my writing teachers submitted my poems to a publishing company, but by that point, I was too consumed with the very scary prospect of losing my mother to think of such things. Over the summer, I received a letter from the publisher expressing their interest in putting my poetry in a group collection. The letter was dated July 2. My mother died the day before. I never replied back to them, although I do still have the letter somewhere. For years, my love for writing died with my mother. I told myself that writing wasn't a "real" career and that I needed to think about other prospects. For a decade, I've tried different things, including journalism, but something was lacking.
When I began this blog, I did so in the simple hope that I would be able to flex my writing muscles again. In turn, I've discovered so much more. I realize I love to create more then anything else in the world and through this blog, I've also made my world much bigger. I've made friends and have gotten my drive back to make writing my career. During my hiatus, I discovered that the entire publishing world as I knew it, changed. You no longer have to go through the traditional channels to have your work be seen or have a publisher's approval to do it. I'm currently debating on whether or not to go through the traditional process at all, when self publishing through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iBooks are options. Granted, they can be expensive options, but there you have it. I could have a chance to make my dreams come true, to be an "indie" author if you will. This will be a long process, but I'll be recording my journey here. I'm really excited and finally hopeful once more.
After all: There's nothing better in life then writing it down.