Friday, August 3, 2007

The next step in this crazy journey called life...

I'd apologize that this is such a long post, but I'm really not very sorry. If you don't want to read the whole thing, here's the surprise ending: I'm... no, nevermind. I'm not going to tell you. You can skip to the last couple paragraphs (which are mercifully short) if you don't want all the details. If you like details, are a sucker for punishment, or just want to be a nice friend, keep reading...

When I was in first grade, I remember having to write a short story. I forget exactly how the story went, except that it involved Mrs. Kangaroo (which I was ridiculously proud of spelling correctly) and Little Kangaroo.

What I do remember very clearly is getting that paper back. My classmates had things "Good job!" or "Nice work!" written across the tops of their stories. Mine said, "Wonderful story!" And I was hooked... I wanted to be a writer.

I wrote constantly growing up, silly little stories that I hope will never see the light of day, which almost always featured a girl (who was strangely like me) who did very cool things. During my junior high years, my best friend and I decided we should write a book and proceeded to write a story we called "Adventures in Underland" about a youth group that went on a mission trip to Australia. (We decided on Australia because one, we both really, really, really wanted to go there, and two, we wouldn't have to worry about the language barrier .) I forget exactly how long our book was, but it was several hundred pages, and has mercifully been lost, hopefully for all time.

I wrote all through high school. I had the most wonderful English/creative writing teacher who encouraged me and helped me develop my writing. Most than anything else in the world, I wanted to write books.

I spent a year in an internship program after high school and I had an advisor there who... well, to put it mildly, let's just say we didn't see eye to eye. I remember my advisor lecturing me about deciding what I wanted to do with my life. If I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, said she, it was because I wasn't trying hard enough. I finally sucked up my courage and told her that I wanted to write novels. She laughed. She told me I needed to be "practical." She said there was no way I could make a living with writing. So I came up with a half-heartedly plan for my life, tacking on something at the end about minoring in creative writing when I went to college. She shook her head at that part, telling me I needed to be realistic, I shouldn't get my hopes up, blah, blah, blah.

(I'm sure this woman really is a wonderful person. Most people who dealt with her thought she was great. I don't know why she didn't like me, but I'm pretty sure she didn't. Not that any of that matters, but there you go.)

I tried not to let it get to me, mostly because I was pretty convinced that the woman hated me and I would never be able to do anything right for her, but... what if she was right?

I went to college, planning to be an art major with a minor in creative writing (talk about something I'd never make money at...). My first semester, I had an English class. I had always gotten really good grades in any kind of English or creative writing classes. I worked hard on my first paper... and I barely got a C... a couple points less and it would have been a D. The professor wrote a comment that I'd obviously put no effort into the paper and had just thrown it together at the last minute. I was crushed, but determined to try again. The professor hated my next paper even more. No matter what I did or how hard I tried, the best grade I managed to wring out of that class on a paper was a 79%. Obviously, I was not a writer. So I did what any chicken-hearted person... I ran away and hid. I changed majors, dropped the creative writing minor all together, and floundered through another semester before I gave up and dropped out.

I wrote here and there over the next several years, but I didn't say a word about it to anyone. I discovered National Novel Writing Month in 2004 and decided to take a stab at that. I managed to pound out a 50,000 story over 30 days and was ridiculously proud of myself, but left it at that. Anyone can type out a bunch of drivel, but that doesn't mean anyone would want to read it and it definitely didn't make me a writer.

About a year ago, I went back to school and I found myself wondering if maybe someday, maybe, I could write a book. I started joking about someday being a writer... because if I just joked about it, then obviously I wasn't too serious about it and it wouldn't be a big deal if it never happened.

Over the last few months, God's really done a number on my heart. (I think I might have mentioned once or twice that God was doing something, but I wasn't sure what. I lied. I did know what. I just didn't want to admit it because it was scary... and you're supposed to hide from scary things, right?) I started thinking seriously about writing again. I began to develop this vague idea that some day, when I was finished with all the college madness (10 or 15 years down the road at the rate I'm going...), I would maybe write a book and hopefully it would get published. I actually sat down and did a little writing. But ooooohhhh, it was scary.

The last month has been a crazy ride. I stumbled across the xanga site of Camy Tang, a Christian writer who's first book is being published in September. I discovered that Christian fiction has come a looooooong way in the 10 or so years since I pretty much gave up on it. (I'm not so much into sappy romance books and the few who didn't write sappy romances didn't write books nearly as fast as I wanted to read them.) I discovered a whole little community of Christian writers on the web, writers who have books published and are willing to pass on their hard-earned knowledge. I discovered a wealth of information about writing fictions, do and don't, tips, hints, all kinds of crazy things I never would have dreamed of... yet it still seemed so impossible... and so far away.

Last week, I discovered several "how I got here" stories by a several different now published authors. One in particular that I read last Friday, all 65 parts of the story, hit in me in many different ways, and as I drove home from work that night, I found myself fighting back tears. I finally started getting it through my head (it's a good thing God's patient, because I'm dense) that maybe this desire really is from God... and maybe it's not for 10 or 15 years down the road when I've finally worked my way through college... maybe it's for now.

So... (if you've skipped down from the top, start reading now) this week I've embarked upon a rather bizarre journey called "writing a book and getting it published." I'm excited. I'm scared (okay, terrified out of my mind). I've gotten an armload of books about writing and I'm amazed at how much there is to learn (who knew there was so much to writing good fiction?). And I've started writing.

We'll see what happens.

And if you made it clear to the end of this horrendously long post, you are way cool and I really impressed by you.


Anonymous said...

Go for it! I'm so impressed that you finished 50,000 words. Today I ran across your blog through CFBA. I look forward to reading your book someday!

Anonymous said...

well, i read it all so i guess that makes me "way cool", 'ey?! :) all the best in your journey of writing!! i got here by the CFBA blogroll. i'm not a writer but i surely am a reader. :)

Erica Vetsch said...

Well, phooey, I typed out a reply I was sure was erudite and witty and then blew it away through hitting the wrong key.

Anyway, I'm so glad you're writing! Write the book of your heart and lay it at God's feet. He'll know what to do with it from there.

Blessings and happy writing!