I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to take my skill and gift and turn it into a career. Yet, most of the writing that I’ve been doing for the last few years hasn’t exactly given me fulfillment. So I’ve decided to do something about that, and that’s why I’m here right now, trying to get myself to a place where writing is fun again.
When I say I’m a writer, which is typically how I identify myself both professionally and personally, I don’t mean that my degrees or experience have made me one. I came this way out of the womb. I’ve often said that writing is not necessarily something you can teach. Although, it seems to be a major part of most curriculum. You can teach someone how to write an essay or research paper with a formula. But a real ability to understand how to craft a voice, the rhythm of words and the infamous “showing not telling,” I believe is something that is a raw talent. That talent can be shaped and nurtured. Thankfully mine was.
I wrote my first story when I was five. It’s interesting to me that many of my first short stories were about ghosts or mysteries, sometimes leaning a little dark for my age. But it was what I was interested in at the time and also probably a reflection of what was going on in my childhood.
I didn’t just write these stories. I loved to read them out loud. Sometimes I’d even tell stories on the fly; making it up as I went along. I suppose I had a very healthy imagination.
And lucky for me, I had a very encouraging mother. One who also happened to be an English teacher. It wasn’t enough to have a voice or think of a neat twist to the story. Grammar, syntax and structure were also equally important. She guided me from this perspective so that my ideas blossomed into well written stories.
She also gave me a love for reading. There were very few times in my life that I remember my mom not having a book on her nightstand. She read everything from fiction to biographies. And she let me read her books (not when I was five, but not too long after). She let me experience beautiful writing like Joyce Carol Oates, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and many more. I read “Gone with the Wind,” “Jane Eyre” and “Old Man and the Sea” at a relatively young age, yet I understood most of the concepts. More importantly, I understood this was real writing – this was what I wanted to do.
As I aged, the books became more complex and more adult, as did my writing. I started focusing a lot on poetry in middle school (okay a lot of it was about unrequited love), but I have some of those poems still. And they aren’t that bad.
As teenager, I really started to develop my voice. Much more of my writing became personal and introspective. My life was changing; everything was slipping out of my control. I needed an outlet. Writing saved me. And it helped me achieve, as I started to win writing contests and get published.
So I went to college and took many creative writing classes. My professors were easy with both compliments and criticism. I struggled to find focus – what did I want to write about? What was I going to do with this degree in English?
I graduated and was unsure. My life was at a critical juncture. Should I go to law school (that’s what my mom wanted, and of course it was so important to me that she be proud)? Should I try to get a job writing? What kind of jobs were those anyway?
My first job out of college was actually in the legal field as a litigation assistant. I thought I’d figure out if I did really want to law school. It was a great job for many reasons – great mentors, lots of life lessons and the creation of really thick skin (when plaintiff attorneys cuss you out and tell you that you are ruining peoples’ lives, it’s best not to take it personal).
But I wasn’t giving up on writing. I was happily becoming published on new online journals. I finished my first novel at 23; the second one by 25. And for many, many years, I tried to get a literary agent. The rejections mounted. I started on the third novel. Then being a novelist didn’t seem like something that was going to happen. So I took another road and got my MBA in marketing.
So yes, I do write every day. I’ve written about everything from country clubs to data governance. No matter the subject, I still try to remain true to a voice and an objective to keep it simple and interesting.
But I’m back to believing that I can still do this. I can still one day see my books published and in book stores. I’m dusting off that third manuscript and developing a memoir about my life.
I’ve still got a lot of stories to tell. And I hope that you’ll want to listen.