I've wanted to write stories for a living since I was nine years old. I don't remember the date, but I remember the cause. Up until that time, I knew I either wanted to be an actress, a painter, a singer or a dancer.
That all changed in Fall 1994. I was in the third grade at Loess Hills Christian School, and my parents took me to see Little Women at the Omaha Cinema Center (Don't ask me how I remember that little fact!). All I knew is that it was a period piece, and I so wasn't into period pieces. Who watches period pieces in 1994? In all my third grade glory, I thought I knew everything about film and what people like. It all changed when I saw this movie, and was floored by the beautiful story, especially that of a young girl in Civil War-ravaged America who wanted nothing more than to be a writer, and live out her adventures through her stories. It was as if the Heavens opened and offered me my entire future in one viewing. I promptly went home and tried to write my first story.
Ever since that time, I tried to write what I was interested in. I tried to write what I knew. My first "epic" story involved a girl with many siblings who shared my name, and her boyfriend had the same name as my crush at the time (who shall continue to be nameless to this day). As I think back on it, that story was a whole lot of happenings, but not a lot of plot, structure, or direction.
I didn't get a lot of opportunity to write for school until about eighth grade, when I was in public school, and had two English classes per day: one was for literature and writing, and the other was more of a life skills class (Hello Miracle of Life video of something I didn't EVER need to see!). I worked my butt off writing stories for the literature portion of class, and became pretty well known for writing compelling stories (at least that's the feedback I got from my classmates). You can imagine my disappointment in high school when story writing wasn't nearly as important as giving oral reports and debating the good and bad of different subjects (that's another story I never want to get into). I continued to write, and discovered Fan Fiction. When I was fifteen, I was a ridiculous Roswell fan. I even wrote my own character in (I"ve since stopped writing fanfiction, because that's a bad/obnoxious habit to get into). My friend, Amanda, was the only one who ever read it, and I had big dreams of becoming a screenwriter, and writing great shows like Roswell (Yes, I've since learned from rewatching that it wasn't great television).
For the longest time, I looked down on people who couldn't make it as a full-time writer right out of school or college, but at the same time, I was having trouble getting literary magazines to take my work. I admit, I am extremely haughty when it comes to my work. It's something I'm trying hard to overcome, and I'm trying to respect the opinions of my betas (even going so far as to find betas who aren't related/friends with me to get an outsider's opinion). I'm finally learning, after much introspection and real life experience that it takes more than a good idea to become a full time writer. It takes time, sacrifice, tears, and hard work. I'm one of the people that I used to look down on, and I didn't consider myself a real writer, really, until I published my first book back in 2012. Even before then, it took a long time for me to actually say the words.
I am a writer.
It still seems surreal. As much as my big picture dreams involve living in a cute little house with a husband and kids, working on the blog, and putting out a couple books per year, I still have to remind myself that I'm not quite there yet. If I keep pressing on, I COULD be there, but the important thing is to keep writing, even when it's hard, keep dreaming, even when I'm sitting at my regular job, wishing I could be working on my book on my phone, and most importantly, I need to remember that even before the published book, before the college degree, before the obnoxiously bad fan fiction, I was a little girl who discovered that people actually created stories. I became a writer the moment that I started working on my first story. That's almost twenty years of being a writer. How many 28-year-olds can say that they've been working toward that dream for as long?
I'm still learning, though. I've got so much to learn about myself, and about the craft of writing, editing, and publishing. I think it'd be cool to actually own my own publishing business one day, but until that day, I'll keep writing, keep editing, and keep working toward my goal. It's still there. The passion to create has never left me, no matter how much I've tried to push it down. That's precisely how I know it's here to stay.