I’m not one of those writers who always knew that was what I wanted to be when I grew up. I have one single memory of writing a story as a kid – when I was in seventh grade, I entered a writing contest at school. I had a great time doing it and was ecstatic when I handed it in, sure that I had the contest in the bag. But I didn’t win, and I honestly couldn’t understand why. My story had undoubtedly been the best entry, and I showed my displeasure by boycotting the entire profession thereafter.
Anyway, I finished middle school, made my way through high school, and went off to college. At my parent’s urging, I declared the very practical major of biology and spent the next four years studying my butt off and hating every second of it. By sheer grit and determination, I managed to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree and got a job working in a research lab.
I hated that job. Mostly because I sucked at it. I was starting to realize that, as much as my practical job paid the bills, the idea of a long career in science made me feel sick to my stomach. Fortunately, my son was born after only five eternal years, and I quit my job and joined the ranks of the SAHMs.
By then I’d finally figured out what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to write. I’d been writing a little bit, on and off, but I always found an excuse to abandon my work, and the reason at the top of the list was time. Call it cliche if you want, but it wasn’t until I read about how Stephenie Myers wrote Twilight that a fire was finally lit under my ass. Shame on me for finding a zillion excuses not to write because I was too “busy” with my one child, while she’d found time to build a multimillion dollar empire after her three kids went to bed for the night.
Six months later, my first full-length novel was complete. I was walking on cloud nine. I chose twelve lucky agents and sent it off with the utmost confidence in my work. It was unapologetically rejected by every single one. It was like seventh grade all over again.
Humbled but not discouraged, this time I determined to try again. My sophmore attempt was requested by four agents. All of them said the same thing – good writing, but the pacing was off. It should have been encouraging, but it wasn’t. By then I’d sent it to nearly forty agents and I was burnt out. I didn’t have the energy to rewrite it. So I took some time off and then tried again. My third novel was again roundly rejected and by then I was definitely discouraged.
So now what? I flirted with the idea of calling it quits and putting writing aside in favor of something once again more practical, but decided that’s just lame. So instead I’m going to try something a little different. I’m going to teach myself to be a better writer by taking on challenges – both my own and those I can find that intrigue me. Short stories and poetry, horror and humor – I’m hoping that the exercise will instill some balance in the humors of my writing.
So…read, comment, be both kind and critical (rudeness isn’t necessary). I’m taking on one a week (depending on the length). Got a challenge for me? Bring it on.