Writing Interest and Experience

Many people ask me when my interest in writing started and about my writing experience. I don’t remember not being interested in writing. The first “book” I wrote in second grade was a story about an alien who had landed on earth to make a friend. To give it that authentic alien vibe, I put a cardboard cover wrapped in aluminum foil and bound it around the pages with string. I proudly presented my “book” to my parents. I was fortunate to have both an encouraging teacher and supportive parents that applauded my creativity. So, I kept going.

As a pre-teen I wrote a book series called Marcy, Jane and I about three friends, one of whom has a crush on a neighbor boy named Carl. Looking back on it later, the writing was terrible and quite boring, but in my youth I had so much fun writing them and spent a lot of my time at the computer. I was a kid who also read avidly and hoped that some day I could rival my favorite authors. But I had much to learn.

Later, as a teen, I set my creative current to writing poetry. At sixteen, I entered my poem “The Boogie Man” in the Power of Creativity Poetry Contest and won an honorable mention for my age group. There was an awards ceremony at a local museum for the winners and their families where I was presented a small prize: some McDonalds coupons. I’m not going to lie, that was a bit of a disappointment since I was a vegetarian.

My interest in writing helped get me into a special dorm at my university for incoming students that excelled at the arts. During my time there, I wrote for and worked on the editorial staff of our literary arts magazine. After graduation, I enrolled in law school, which didn’t leave as much room for creative writing. I still wrote poetry, although only for myself in my journal. But I did have an outlet to write news articles for the law school newspaper. I also started a newsletter called the Animal Advocate, which gave me additional experience at writing editorials and editing submissions.

Once out in the working world, most of my jobs included some sort of writing, anything from technical to editorials. I even did a short stint as a newspaper reporter for a local weekly paper. But I missed the creativity I had left behind a few years earlier. So, I decided to explore different types of writing by taking classes: creative writing at a local community college; an online memoir writing course; and a screenwriting boot camp.

Soon my creative juices started flowing again, and I had an idea for a how-to guide and in 2009 wrote and published Pet Writing for Beginners. I even taught a course on the subject at an online writer’s conference the same year. Three years later I participated in National Novel Writing Month a.k.a. NaNoWriMo, a yearly challenge in November to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. This is when I wrote the original draft for my first novel The Debt Collectors: A Lucy Vaughn Mystery. Since then, I have published a memoir, and am on the verge of finishing the edits on the second Lucy Vaughn Mystery novel.

It was a long twisty journey between an aluminum foil wrapped alien story to novelist. But that is the important part. As Junot Diaz said, “In order to write the book you want to write, in the end you have to become the person you need to become to write that book.”   

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