When I first began writing, everything was about extremes. I focused on making my characters as beautiful they could be, having as much fun and excitement as possible, and the bottom line was that I kept myself entertained. I wrote because I found storytelling exciting, and all of my stories had the requirement that they continuously enthrall my imagination.
My first “writing” was actually illustration with a few key descriptive phrases written at the top of the multi-colored page. I began my stories with bright colored pencil sketches detailing four young girls (based on myself and three girl cousins) who were either quickly surrounded by danger, or immediately kidnapped from their home, or sent on some daunting quest that would require all of their courage. I’ve always loved stories with high stakes and breathtaking beauty and in the years since then, I haven’t lost that.
I never thought that when I was making elaborate sketches of ball gowns, forests, hidden caves, and castles that I was beginning to develop the acute hunger that lives inside a writer to create good, captivating storylines. I loved making stories and that was all that mattered to me.
When I grew old enough to have writing assignments (I was home schooled), my mother said she wanted me to make sure that she was interested while she read them. So, in addition to keeping myself interested, I worked to intrigue my mother, my first reader. This also helped me.
Years and years later, I decided that I wanted to do writing “for real.” I wasn’t just writing for myself or my supportive mother anymore.
I realized in high school that what I loved wasn’t always what other people loved or wanted to hear. Ever since then, I’ve had to wrestle with the temptation to please my readers instead of saying what I really want to say. I love to please people, but I can’t please everyone with my writing, because I can’t be everyone. I can only be me.
As I think of all the things that we’re told in order to be “successful” or be “politically correct” or just to fit in with accepted thought, I want to shout, “But I still have to believe in and be interested in what I’m saying!”
Bottom line: I still have to be interested in it and love it first, before anyone else can love it.
It doesn’t matter what’s popular, what’s hot, or what the person next to me is having great success with, I still want to tell the stories that make my blood sing and my brain stay awake, that give me a real way to work through big questions that are weighing on my heart.
And I know that when I work on something that truly, honest-to-goodness matters to me, an extra dash of magic sprinkles onto that writing, and my readers feel it. I can’t explain how that works, but I’ve seen it happen over and over.
As I get ready to show my first novel to the world, I’m reminding myself that I said what I wanted to say, the story means a lot to me, and some of those troubles that the characters deal with are real questions that I’ve worked through or am still working on. I was obsessed enough with the story idea to spend many years creating it. I hope that my passion leaps up from the page and ignites a few more sparks.
To conclude, I raise my glass to the very soon-to-be release of Moonlight and Oranges, and may the words do a wonderful job of telling the story.
What made you originally take the road of your passion (writing or otherwise)? What did you love to do as a young child when nobody was making you do it? For a long time, I’d thought that my illustrated stories meant I was going to grow up to draw art for a living. Then I looked deeper and found the storyteller underneath.