How I Became a Writer

Now that Exiled Heart has released, I thought that this would be a good opportunity to share the purpose of this blog. I’ve entitled it Writer’s Variety for a reason, that reason being to not only share about myself and my calling as a writer, but also for you to get to know me better. To get to know what makes this particular writer tick. To start out, I’d thought I’d share how I wound up discovering writing as my calling. In future posts, I’ll also field any questions I receive through this blog, through conversations, or through any other means.

When I was in junior high, I had no idea that writing would become a calling. Instead, I drew house layouts. Go ahead and laugh, but I had notebooks full of these layouts. Maybe I thought I was going to be an architect or something. Then, I began writing stories by hand. One day during fall of my sophomore year, I was in my geometry class, sitting on the front row, and a tad bit bored. So, I pulled out my composition notebook that had my story in it and continued working on it. Smart me should have figured that because I was sitting on the front row, I would get busted by the student teacher. I look back on that and laugh. Then, in my junior year, I took a creative writing class as an elective. I think that’s when I started recognizing that maybe there was something to this writing thing. I wrote a short story that won a competition (local or school-wide, I can’t remember).

So by the time that I headed off to college, I realized that I had a talent for it, just as I had a huge interest and desire to be an aeronautical engineer. That latter interest led me to major in physics. Still, I did take a couple of classes related to writing. Ironically, the creative writing class I took almost destroyed my desire to write. Essentially, it was two-thirds poetry, and the grades were based on student critiques. Unfortunately, there are two ways to give critiques (kind and thoughtful versus cold and critical). I felt that for the most part, the critiques were of the latter manner. Seeing that I was the only hard science major in there (the rest were English majors with one psychology major thrown in for good measure), it was a difficult class for me. Fortunately, I kept my blinders on and clung to that idea that I could indeed write fiction. Still, my writing remained unfocused.

The second class I took was a women’s literature class. To say it was wonderful was an understatement. I learned a lot about women in literature during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I walked away from that class feeling a bit disturbed. This was because most, if not all, of the women characters in that fiction either died, went insane, or had a similar demise. None seemed to triumph. That brought focus to my writing. I wanted to write about strong women who faced adversity and overcame.

So I graduated and headed off to graduate school. Once I finished all of my schooling and landed my day job, I just started writing and writing and writing. There’s no other way to get better at it than to simply put in the time and the words. During the next five or so years, I made a move to Georgia and then back to North Carolina when I got engaged. After getting married, I continued writing, but I noticed that there was something flat about it, like I needed more guidance to keep learning my craft.

That guidance came in the form of a two-year correspondence course through the Christian Writer’s Guild. It was broken into four six-month modules, and, to be honest, I lived for that last module, which was fiction. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed all of it, but the fiction module was what brought me to the level where I am now. I learned so much about plotting, character development, etc. Armed with this new information, I also recognized that I needed to be in a critique group.

I’ll talk more about critique groups in another post, but I do want to emphasize how important they are. These critique groups not only help to provide feedback on writing but also provide support and encouragement. This business is a lonely business at times, and the ladies in mine have been wonderful.

I knew I was doing the right things by learning my craft and learning from others. One of my other writer friends and neighbors stated that it takes a million words to reach the point where a novel is suitable for publication. I think Exiled Heart was that point for me, and I celebrate the fact that a year ago almost to the day, Comfort Publishing ( picked up my novel.

So there you have it. My history of writing in a thousand words or less. Stay tuned for more.

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