The first thing I ever wrote was a short story for my little sister. I was probably about seven years old. And yes, it was awful. I still have it so I can look back and laugh. I illustrated it too, if that gives you any kind of clue at what it might look like. But I enjoyed every minute of it. I even made a part two. My little sister liked it as much as any four year old’s attention span will allow, but something in me seemed to click into place.
When I was ten, I sat down with a notebook determined to write a book. It didn’t come out too bad. Could probably be rewritten into a children’s book one day. It’s about a princess who saves the day. (I’d just watched Princess Diaries with my family.) But when I was writing this, I experienced something new that I couldn’t get enough of. Support from my family and from kids at school. I literally had a classmate cover for me so I could write during class instead of pay attention. What I was doing seemed so normal to me, but everyone around me boosted my confidence into thinking I was doing something great and worthwhile.
I started writing countless books during sixth grade. I hadn’t quite figured out developing plot and finishing up a story yet, but I had stories written in any notebook I could get my hands on. I spent more time on these stories than I did on classwork, but it didn’t seem like teachers got too mad about it. My reading teacher just told me I had to dedicate a book to her when I got published. Which I will do, of course. I had a few friends that also wrote stories occasionally and we started a writing club. We got to skip PE and talk about characters and writing a book together. We even had people write us a short story to apply for membership.
Into junior high, I started to have a fan base. People I didn’t even really hang out with wanted to read my stories and would get onto me if I hadn’t written anything in a couple days. It was good motivation and they gave me the kind of feedback I needed. They really got me thinking about keeping things relevant to the main storyline and making characters important and not just fluff. In seventh grade I completed my first chapter book and I’d never felt more accomplished in my life. After that one, the next one seemed easier and so on. I knew I could do it once, which meant I could do it again.
In eighth grade I discovered something that really made me want to write. Vampires. Amelia Atwater-Rhodes was introduced to me and I devoured every book of hers I could find and suddenly I was cranking out vampire books. I wrote four within that school year and continued on with that topic for quite some time.
Around this time I started thinking about getting published. I studied the method, query letter, get an agent, get a publisher etc. And I have a stack of rejection letters to prove it. Which was fine, because I’d already read those inspiring notes about how everyone gets rejected at first and all that. So I kept trying. And trying. And trying. And trying.
And then I stopped. I thought maybe I needed to try something different. Write something different. Vampire books were too popular there for a bit and I didn’t want to be “just another vampire book.” So expanded my horizons. I wrote sad stories, explored other avenues of a fantastical world, and considered straight horror. File folders full of material wait in my room to be refined and shared with the world.
But sometimes life happens and there was a period of time that I didn’t write anything. I blame this partly on the toxic relationship I was in and partly on me letting other things take priority. But either way, for about three years I just didn’t have anything in my head that was screaming to get out. I feared I’d written all that I’d had to write and my time was done. I thought I’d lost my creative drive and I would be doomed to working retail forever.
I confided these feelings in a coworker and for my birthday he gave me Making a Literary Life by Carolyn See. And I found inspiration again. I started journaling at least and it got the juices flowing. I looked into more motivational books and reread things I used to write and somewhere along the lines I found it again and was writing.
And now here I am, meeting my monthly goals every single month and pushing forward on this journey. Because I will be an author and the only one responsible for making it happen is me.