Some writers are blessed early on with the knowledge of what it is that makes them happy, and what keeps them going. They are able to sharpen their skills; find their voice and write, write, write. I was not one of those writers.
I have been writing for only five years. As I look back on my life I see all the signs: a love of reading, all the English classes I could take, an enormous imagination, and the habit of re-writing the endings to stories I didn't like. But, as is always the case with me, simple and obvious never sinks in right away.
By the end of my high school days I had grown bored with school. I was all set up to move on to college, but I just couldn't do it. I didn't know what I was going for, and I didn't have the money to waste on four years of education just to get out and do something else. When you're eighteen there are so many pressures to "know what you want to be" and "prepare for your future." I'm twenty-nine and only now do I have a basic sketch.
I don't lament missing college (sometimes I do, but not often) because I believe there is destiny behind the major decisions in our lives. Had I went to college I most likely would have missed the person who made me realize that I wanted to be a writer. She's the one that encourages me when I cry out, "Why am I doing this? I could be playing Nintendo." She's the one I write for. I met this pretty lady when I was nineteen and married her two years later. Oh, the wife is his Ideal Reader, how cliché, you say. Maybe, but truth anyhow.
It was in our tiny two bedroom apartment out by the county fairgrounds. We had been married for somewhere around three years. I must have been complaining a lot about how I could write something better, or how fun it would be to be a writer instead of a concrete finisher. Brandy turned to me with that crap-or-get-off-the-pot look and said "Why don't you write something then."
I'm sure I had been milling it over for a while. As I said, it takes me a long time to do anything. But it was her words - not those of anger, not of aggravation, but of stern encouragement - that put my butt in the seat. Even if she won't admit it, I think Brandy knew I could be a writer before I did.
Brandy and I tell this story different, but the end result is the same. This is my blog so you get my version.
I didn't tell her I had written anything. It was just a few paragraphs - the beginnings of a larger work that had been rolling around in my head. Brandy, playing on the computer, found it and asked where I had downloaded the story. She wanted to know who it was by, and what happened next. I was happy to tell her that I was the author, but sorry to say that I wasn't sure at all what happened next.
It was the best compliment anyone has ever or will ever pay my writing.
That paragraph turned into a novel. But I knew it needed a major polishing. I'm still polishing it today. I turned to the short-story to build up my name and hopefully help me land an agent.
That is how my journey started. It is the first paragraph. What comes next? you ask.
I wish I knew.