How does one become a writer?
That’s easy. I believe that inside everyone there is the ability to write. The trick is, to make it more important than any other thing in your life. Some people find that to be difficult, and turn to gardening or scuba diving. For some poor, afflicted individuals, it is not so much a choice as it is a state of being. I was a writer from the moment I was literate; in Kindergarten, when our assignment was to write a paragraph, I would write a page. When I was twelve, I remember looking up from my notebook as a shadow fell over me. It was my father. He asked me what I was doing. When I told him I was writing, he said, “It’s summer. You don’t have an assignment.” I told him I was writing for fun. He shook his head and said, “I could never do what you do.”
Which was the first inkling I had that perhaps being a writer wasn’t for everyone.
I took a major hiatus from writing after moving from Wyoming to Washington. I was a teenager, I had lots of new friends, and discovered LARPing. (For the uninitiated, it’s Live Action Role Playing. Or, dressing up as vampires and werewolves and running around looking silly.) LARPing was great, because now my stories had a new venue. An appreciative audience who could give me instantaneous feedback. I was enthralled with this new form, which became an enormous time sink and rolled up improvisational acting, costume design, and good old let’s pretend into a cohesive whole. At the height of this time, there were 90 players attending Western’s drama club, and I was not only telling stories for those people, I was keeping things organized as well. No wonder I had no time or energy for my writing!
Eventually I moved to Seattle with several dear friends, but I didn’t leave LARPing, or gaming in general, behind. We started table top gaming, which was much less interactive than LARPing but still told stories. I was content. A little too content, honestly. I professed to love writing but other than a few false starts here and there, I’d never finished a novel! I wasn’t even concerned about it.
My husband, Luke, was absolutely concerned about it. He made a heroic effort to get me back into writing. I wanted to, but I knew that if I went back down that path, it would mean I had to stop gaming, which was also my social outlet. I was reluctant to give up my lifestyle that I had gotten so settled into. It wasn’t until Amanda, Luke’s mother’s partner, took me literally by the hand and asked me to write a story, that I thought about getting back into it.
The dam broke. I wrote The Corsican inside of a few months. It wasn’t a great story in my opinion, but it was a good story, and the first novel I had ever completed. (Yes, I said my published novel was only a good story. This was 2009, and I hadn’t much editing on it yet.) Not long after, Nanowrimo rolled around, and I started a new story, A Modern Fae Proposal. It was quite a jump. The Corsican was a science fiction adventure story about slave children who are rescued from their captors and taken to a new planet where slavery is not allowed. A Modern Fae Proposal was pure urban fantasy.
I finished The Corsican in 2009. Finished was a loose term. It had a beginning, a middle, and an end. The characters were solid, and the plot only had a few holes in it. This is where The Corsican would stay, on my hard drive, gathering spectral dust, until 2012. That’s when a friend of mine posed the query, “Say, you have a finished manuscript, don’t you?”
Cue panicked resurrection of said work, and an intense editing regimen.
Tune in next time, when I answer the musical question, “What do you know?” (Mission, by Pucifer)