“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter – it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”
~Mark Twain, letter to George Bainton, 1888
I am a writer.
I wrote my first story when I was seven years old. It was a page long and not well written, but I knew then the power of the pencil and Big Chief tablet. My father, the story-teller, seemed to like it and he tucked it away saved it for a rainy day.
When I was twelve, I began forming the idea for a story that was much longer and more detailed, but I didn’t have the life experience to emotionally connect to the characters. So the characters went on a vacation to Europe for a few years.
I tried to write the story again in high school, but I got “busy” with friends, social activities and writing of another form – journalism. I learned the craft of the who, what, where, when, why and how. Pieces of craft started coming together and I discovered what I thought I knew, I didn’t really know. So I practiced writing for the school newspaper, song lyrics, poetry and other things that would expand not only my mind, but my style.
After high school came college and then “life.” It’s trite, but life gets in the way of our plans. So, the Pulitzer in journalism, which I was sure I was going to win, went by the wayside and in its place came a husband, two beautiful children, a few dogs and an assortment of adventures that adulthood brings.
My characters though were growing tired of Europe. However, I wasn’t ready to bring them home, so I created a new bunch of characters and tried writing a story in a genre that was more mainstream and “accepted.” I use the word accepted because at this point, I had my own demons to battle and I wanted to write a story my family would “approve” of. It was a hard story to write. There was no emotional connection to the characters and frankly, the story fizzled in a big way. It’s still two-thirds done sitting in the attic collecting dust.
Because of more life changes and other events, I quit writing. I stopped journaling, stopped doodling poetry, and I stopped everything including reading. I went through a personal winter and the soils of my soul needed some time to just lay fallow for a while. Several seasons later, seeds were planted when I started reading again.
A writer must read. We get inspiration from what others have written. You see, a writer is zipping along a good book and then BAM! A word, a turn of phrase, or something else catches our eye and the muse within plants a seed. Further reading waters and nurtures the seedling and before you know it, you have a field of ideas and you just have to harvest them.
After a long and barren winter, I would have to thank too many writers to list that inspired me to pick up the pen and write again. But gone was the notion I had to write to please anyone, but myself, my worst critic.
My characters rejoiced. They finally came home from their long hiatus and I discovered something about them. They were well-rounded and flushed out from their adventures and living life abroad. They had matured and become more than I had ever dreamed of. Their story isn’t torture to write, it’s in a genre I love and most importantly, I finally found my “voice.”
The first fifty pages are done and some re-writes have already been completed. After all, being a writer doesn’t mean that you slop down some words on paper and submit them. You take what you have written, rewrite them until they are crisp and then rewrite them until they are razor sharp. As a friend told me once, “the writing is easy, the re-writing is a bitch.”
I wanted to share this achivement today because I didn’t know if this day would come. But in being true to myself, it has. I look forward to what the next pages have to offer, what my characters are going to do next and when I get to write the final words that will close out this novel.
Fifty down – a few hundred to go.
Today I realized…
I AM a writer.