Last week, I was talking to a good friend who asked what made me want to be a writer. It’s been so long since someone asked me that question that I was stumped for a minute. I’ve been a professional writer for ten years, but I’ve been writing as far back as I can remember. No joke.
In the fifth grade, I remember being so proud because my teacher taught me to use quotation marks before she taught the other students. After reading a number of my stories with undefined dialogue, she saw the need for me to learn something new to improve my writing. That was a long time ago, but it stuck with me.
In the sixth grade, I won a school district wide writing contest. My essay took first place in the division. To celebrate the honor, the school district hosted a banquet for all of the winners and I got a $50.00 gift certificate to a now defunct toy store; a gift certificate my mother made me use to buy something for my brother as well as me by the way!
In the seventh grade, I wrote a chapter book about mermaids that my English teacher liked so much she used to read it aloud to the class every day. It was also the first year I wrote a fan fiction, a genre that didn’t have a name at the time. And, get ready for this, it was the first year I incorporated sex scenes in my novels. Yes, even back then!
I wrote all through high school. My psychology teacher saw some talent and shared it with his good friend and colleague who was an English teacher. That teacher, Mr. Capriola, spent a lot of time helping me to develop a story I’d written about a young police officer who accidentally shoots a civilian child and has to deal with the fallout.
As much as I loved to write, it never occurred to me to make a career of it. I should have and I wish I would have tried sooner, but I didn’t see it as an option. I was so afraid to try something new and move beyond what I thought was safe that I didn’t think I had any options.
In college I stopped writing. I got married, had a child, had a full time job and basically got busy. There was no time to write. I wasn’t even inspired to write. Sometimes I missed it, but most of the time I didn’t think about it.
Eleven or so years ago, that changed. I don’t remember what I was doing, but one day a sentence popped into my head. I grabbed a notebook and started writing what turned out to be a scene in the middle of a novel. That had never happened before. It was a challenge to go back to the beginning and develop the plot and characters, but it sparked something. It reminded me how much I liked to write and I felt somewhat encouraged to think I wasn’t that bad.
Once I started writing again, I’ve never stopped. I love to write and I love to share my work with the world. My sales are modest and my name isn’t recognizable to many, but I’m okay with that. Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to be a best-selling author and you all know that, but it’s not my primary motivation. I’d rather touch a few people with something genuine than reach the masses with something hollow. As long as I have one or two readers, I have a reason to keep going.
What made me want to be a writer? Nothing I guess. I think I was just born to write, but that’s a good question!