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Monday, December 5, 2011

When Did You Decide To Become An Author?

Dear Liana,
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?


Dear Curious,
I don't think I ever actively made the decision to be a writer. I never daydreamed about being an author when I was a child. I didn't scribble poetry during class in high school (okay, maybe a few poems, and a novel). I didn't go to school for a literary degree, and I've avoided reading most of the books that are called Classic Literature.

For better or worse I announced at the age of two that I was going to be a marine biologist. I liked swimming. I liked fish. I liked the ocean. And my parents had just informed me that the role of dragon-slaying heroine was out of the question because not only was Mordor fictional (killing my youthful dream of being an Evil Overlord) but dragons didn't exist either (heart-breaking - I cried all night).

My parents told the story repeatedly (big mistake), and somehow I decided that if I didn't become a marine biologist I would be failing life in some horrible miserable way and no one would ever love me again. Yes, I was a melodramatic child.

The marine biology thing worked out for me. I love science, I love getting messy, I love SCUBA diving, I love sharks, I love working in a lab, and I soaked up my science courses in school like a happy little sponge. All while passing every lit course half-asleep.

I love to read. While I was actively studying science I was escaping into fantasy and science fiction novels, unaware that the reading was a tuition of it's own. When I lost interest in economics class, I started writing stories in the margins of my notebook. I joined the school, and then the college, newspapers. On the good days I was reading a fiction book a day (and on the bad ones I was reading an economics chapter a day - that made me cry).

I graduated with a degree in marine biology, a husband, and a new baby. That isn't the recipe for grad school, not when your spouse already has a job waiting across the country. Keeping the family together meant postponing grad school, and for the first time in 21 years I was adrift. No job. No classes. No beach...

Writing was something I could do while the baby napped. So, in 2004, I started dabbling. At first I was just typing up the stories I wrote in high school. I figured that if I transcribed a page a day I would have a story within a year, and I could edit as I went.

You will never see that story. NEVER.

But once I started, I couldn't stop. I didn't start writing daily until a few years ago, and even then my intentions were half-hearted. I wasn't planning on publishing, I was writing for fun. Then I was writing because I had a fun idea. And then because my friends expected to see something. And then because failing to write meant I'd FAILED (which I hate doing - I'm sure you never would have guessed).

As it turned out, I never *wanted* to be a writer, I just was one. Like being born American, short, or with brown hair it wasn't something I planned on doing, but I woke up one morning and realized I was a writer.

I read a quote once upon a time that said, "If you wake up in the morning and want to write, you're a writer." It's true. The best authors are the ones who wake up thinking about plot lines and characters, not the ones who wake up and say, "One day I'll write a book."

Now, how is that for a long and rambly answer?

Happy writing,

1 comment:

  1. That was interesting. I took typing in highschool, that was where the girls were? Then in the Army I got drafted into writing cause of my photography skills. Found I liked it. Scribbled for many years and then had a heart attack which gave me plenty of time to pursue writing. P.S. I sent you a twitter with info on a writer named Diana Gabaldon, who is also a Marine Biologist. Her book sounded like something you would like. She is in jan Writer's Digest...Been busy writing & tweeting, sorry I had not checked your blog for a few days.