When it comes to what I write, I’d like to think that I write contemporary fiction, but time will tell since my first attempt at writing a novel started to take on elements of paranormal mystery. I didn’t set out to write a ghost story, and I am not a fan of genre fiction, but alas the first draft of Lost Girl Road veered into paranormal territory. After a year of toiling, I put the novel to rest, but I would like to try my hand at writing the story again, and I want it to be a story of literary merit.
What I Write
So what do I write? The answer remains elusive, but over the years I’ve dabbled in many forms and focused on a few, especially literary short stories as that is what a writing degree or two instills in many wanna be authors. I’ve also a particular liking for crafting personal essays. I know I have a memoir in me and am fascinated by the use of truth in creative nonfiction. At times it feels like I’ve spent more of my life thinking about writing than I have putting actual words on a page. Don’t get me wrong though, writing is and will always be my greatest aspiration. It’s time to stop joking that I help people write books but can’t seem to write one of my own.
The Early Years
As a child, I told stories to anyone who would listen, including stuffed animals. My first written stories dwelled in fantasy. Two of those stories took me to the annual Young Writers Conference at Eastern Washington University. Both early-elementary age trips have melded in my mind, but the experience of tons of kids coming together to share stories and listen to authors read their work made a lasting impression, as did a kid named Killian who ate crumbs off the carpet. Yes, even then, my young and narcissistic writer’s mind assured myself that my “Voyage to Loob” was better than the stories offered up by the rest of the pack.
The two books I started writing in middle school and high school could best be categorized as V. C. Andrews knock-offs. The first was written in a spiral bound notebook. The second was pounded out on an electric typewriter. I finished neither and both found homes in the trash can. Then Anne Rice’s books influenced the creation of darker short stories that I typed at my first computer.
The first two years of college saw little creative writing, but I gave every wretched academic paper my all. Then I spent the next two years out of school and working in national parks. I was certainly living it up, but not writing it up. It wasn’t yet time to devote a space in my life solely to writing, but those formative experiences provided great literary fodder that I will be able to mine for years.
The types, amount of, and length of time I spent writing during three years of graduate school (I switched degree paths) cannot be encapsulated here, but I fondly remember one class where the professor required the students to compose their history as readers and writers. In short, I discovered a penchant for humorous travel writing and literary nonfiction. I grew less attached to short stories, but better at all elements of craft. Woot, woot. I’m a trained writer who never mustered the courage to try to get anything published (expect for a couple of minor things as an undergraduate). Working class roots overpowered the dreamer in me and I took up a career in the classroom.
The Dark Ages
Enter the dark ages. Six years of successfully teaching high school English came at the expense of not chasing my writing dreams. I’ve reconciled that I’m not an Energizer Bunny type of person who can do it all. A cross-country move due to my now ex-husband’s new job allowed me the chance to write eight hours a day, which I split between blogging and drafting my novel. I think I can, I think I can…
I thought I could… As I update this post, I’m ready to spend the coming months of 2019 brainstorming and outlining possibilities for the next draft of Lost Girl Road.
2019 Update: Getting My Act Together
I also got a hiking and relationship piece titled “The Higher Your Get” published in the March 2018 of Idaho Magazine in addition to winning first place in the 2018 Idaho Writers Guild essay contest with my piece on Yellowstone titled “Earth’s Stew.” Little by little, this editor’s writing house is getting in order. As much as I’d like to delve into a memoir about the last four years of my life, that is going to have to wait. I intend to work on short pieces though that may eventually become part of a longer memoir.
I know I have at least five novels in me that I’d like to write. They may or may not turn out to be psychological suspense. I won’t know if I don’t try. I’m finally reading to try. Becoming a freelance editor and amassing a ton of blog posts on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing has really been all about me taking the long way around to coming into my own as a writer.
What do you write?
If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy reading How to Establish Writing Accountability or Why I Write…
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I didn’t realize you used to be an English teacher! Well no wonder you’re so precise in your blog posts 🙂 Aha, I have some insight!
I like so many kinds of writing, from fiction to non-fiction – and a healthy helping of poetry too. I truly can’t just stick to one if I want to be authentic.
Christy, oh yes I used to be Ms. Walker to ninth and tenth grade English students, but decided to leave that all behind when the chance popped up to give my long neglected writing dreams a chance. It pleases me to no end when a comment comes in on one of these post from back in the earliest days of my blog.
This phrase resonated with me so much: “Working class roots overpowered the dreamer in me …”. Very true for me. I was writing at a young age, received some recognition through school and even college, but my roots were burrowed too deep for me to follow my dream of being a full-time writer. Even when a couple of college professors took me under their wing and advised me to pursue academia as a way to (eventually) realize my dream, I had to turn away. I was the first kid in my family to go to college. I was supposed to be satisfied with that and then get a “real” job. Fast forward 40 years and I think it’s time to start dreaming again. As far as what I write? The few novels I wrote through NaNoWriMo are crime fiction, with the exception of the very first one which is a horror novel. I didn’t set out to write crime fiction, but it is a genre I enjoy reading, especially when it is more character driven than plot driven. I actually would like to get back to writing short stories, though.
Marie, I think it’s safe to say we have a lot in common regarding the path we’re taking to pursue our writing dreams. I’ve joined a handful of local writing groups these past couple of months and it’s working wonders to pull me back fully into that community. I love to dive into editing, but the hardest part for me with writing is always just getting started. Once I start, it’s never as bad as I think it will be 😉 Surely I have a verse or two worth contributing to this world and must keep telling myself that.
You CAN, Jeri! Our journeys are similar in some ways–I did a lot of writing when I was younger, then stopped for many years while I worked at various jobs, including teaching school (middle school) for five years. Like you, my roots are also in the working class, and once college was over, it was up to me to support myself, so there was no way I could consider just becoming a full-time writer. It wasn’t until I was working at a software company–writing marketing material–and the guy in the cube next to me told me he was working on a novel at night that I realized I wanted to do that too. And then, when circumstances changed for our family, I was given the opportunity to write a lot more. It does take a while to get the plot right–especially the first time–but if you stick with it, I believe you’l succeed.
Mary, sticking with it is my middle name. Just last night I worked on my idea, concept, and premise for my novel. The biggest realization for me has been owning up to how I am so much more of a plotter than a pantster.
Jeri, I smiled the entire time I read this piece. We both let life deter us for a while (ah, the working class, Puritan pasts!) but have gotten ourselves back on track. Here’s to 2019 seeing both of us kicking butt on these writing goals. The words HAVE to come out!
RoseMary, yep. It’s time to unleash so many words this year!