A while back I wrote a post about a story’s true beginning. I wrote about how outlining a book is not the real beginning of the process. The real beginning is that little seed that pops into your head. That concept that just won’t leave you alone until you explore it some more.
Well, our lives are our own stories, as are our careers (I’m being incredibly liberal with that word. It’s more like our hobbies) as writers. Thank you to Jodie Llewellyn (http://jodiellewellyn.wordpress.com/), whose blog I was just reading, for the inspiration for this post. But, who am I kidding? I fully stole the idea for this post, title and all, so double the thanks I guess.
My writing journey all started with my mom, a lifelong English teacher. In kindergarten she read me the first Harry Potter, and we all know what comes next. I was so hooked that I guess I had to learn to read, because I couldn’t wait for nighttime to come to hear more of the story.
Years later, I would get in trouble in 6th grade English on a regular basis for reading the books – for probably the tenth time – under my desk.
I first remember wanting to write because I would get so irrationally upset when a book series ended. Why couldn’t J.K. Rowling have continued writing Harry Potter books forever? Millions of us would have read them. It was probably in 8th grade that I thought, “If I write my own books, they wouldn’t have to end until I wanted them to.”
My first good piece of writing sprang to life in tenth grade. It’s a one page paper about what it would be like coming home to my deserted house several decades in the future. My mom still has it hanging on the fridge. I also wrote a one paragraph horror story in the same class, a writing exercise that we shared with each other. Several of my friends came up to me after and said, “Wow, you’re an amazing writer.” Doesn’t everyone like to be complimented? Isn’t that a good enough reason to start writing? Maybe. Maybe not.
Anyway, I fully dove into writing the next year. I outlined and wrote my first book, which I finished at the end of 11th grade. It was 90,000 words and the first book in a planned series of four. I gave it to my mom, she read it in about a day, and she told me it was fantastic. She’s very sweet. I recently re-read the book and let me tell you – if you ever want to read the worst knockoff of Harry Potter known to man, send me an email and I’ll show you 350 pages of laughably horrifying storytelling.
I’ve come a long way since then. I’m now a senior in college, I’ve written dozens of short stories, two almost completed then discarded manuscripts, and am finally finishing another book (63 chapters down, 4 to go!) that I’m hopeful is lightyears ahead of the first one I churned out. It’s taken me five years since my disastrous first attempt, but I think I’m finally getting the hang of this thing. My life, my writings habits, and my writing skills themselves have all come a long way. I’m finally hopeful that I could soon be good enough to make a career out of this. Ernest Hemingway said, “It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” And Robert Benchley later said, more comically, “It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.”
Writing is work, and the more you do it, the better you get at it. Or so I tell myself. Here’s a video that I also found on Jodie Llewellyn’s blog (should I pay her for this?). It’s something that puts into words what a lot of writers unfortunately don’t know, but definitely rings true for most of us. It can give a lot of hope to writers just getting started on their journeys.
So that’s me. How did you start your writing journey? Maybe make a blog post about it. It’s kind of fun to reminisce.