I wasn’t always a writer; in fact, I didn’t start writing until fourteen years ago. I did, however, always have stories and characters filling up my head, from the time I was about four or five years old. And my stories weren’t necessarily children’s stories about monsters or fairies or princesses. Sometimes I would hear the adults around me talking about someone, and that would get my imagination going. For instance, a relative had fainted and didn’t know what was wrong. Turned out she was pregnant. Not exactly something that would normally capture a small child’s attention (I was probably six years old), but it did. I suspect it wasn’t so much the situation that intrigued me, but the conversation, the excitement, the gossip.
As I got older and we went on a road trip across the country (we were moving from Florida to California) and we stopped at Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. For many years I had dreams about the cave tour we went on. I guess that’s where my interest in caves began.
One of my fond memories is of the day my sister and I sat in our family’s garage and created a city, characters, and a story plot in our minds, each of us just taking turns describing (aloud) what we saw. We didn’t write anything down. I don’t know if she remembers that day. We were probably around 12 (me) and 10 (her). As I recall, we tried to pick up the story a few days later and continue it, but it didn’t work. The magical spell of that day was gone.
Reading is something else that I’ve always done. The first chapter books that my parents bought me were: Fifty Famous Fairy Tales, The Wizard of Oz, and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. I remember that because those books made a great impact on my imagination. Even back then (I was probably seven or eight), I longed to write.
As a child, I read lots of mysteries, biographies, and historical novels. Later on, I read romances and literary novels, too.
Many years later, I would go to book stores and search for stories that intrigued me, and for stories like the kind I wanted to write. It got harder and harder to find those. That’s when I got the urge to finally put words on paper (or computer). I told my husband I wanted to write a novel. I said “I don’t care if I ever get published. I just want to see if I can write a novel.” He was nice and encouraging, probably not thinking I would ever finish one, but he did get me a used laptop computer.
From the beginning of my writing journey, I began reading books about novel writing. I wrote almost every day when I got home from my day job. My children saw what I was doing and they both started writing novels, too. My son was in eighth or nine grade and my daughter was in fourth or fifth grade. She wrote poems, too, and even got a couple of her poems published in children’s magazines. Both kids eventually got tired of writing, even though both of them were good at it. For them, it was a phase. For me, it was something I would continue. I kept writing, and I kept reading those books about writing. I’m always trying to learn and improve.
Why am I telling you all of this?
Because I’ve often heard that everyone has a story in them. I don’t know if that’s true. It might be.
I’ve heard from many people who say they want to write novels or poetry or short stories but don’t know where to begin. Some don’t think they have the ability. Some don’t know if they have a good enough imagination.
You don’t have to have a wild imagination (it helps, but I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary). I do know for sure that you don’t have to know everything about writing before you start. It’s something you can learn as you go along. As long as you are willing to study and put in the effort and not give up, you can do it. I certainly didn’t know what I was doing when I first started.
What I want to say is: Don’t be afraid to try something new, if it’s something that you really want. You can do it if you set your mind to it. You might even be great at it! You won’t know unless you take the chance and try.