Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Saturday, December 6, 2008

How I Became a Writer

When I was in first grade, my mom bribed me to learn to read. After that I couldn't get enough and read everything I could get my hands on. I was always making up stories in my head, inventing characters to play with and daydream about. I think at some point it occurred to me that I wanted to be a writer, but for some reason I thought -- I can't do that. I don't know how. Writers are like -- famous -- right? I could never do anything like that.

At some point, I decided I wanted to major in physics and become a nuclear physicist. When I got to college, I had to take calculus before I could take any physics classes. Calculus defeated me. I changed my major to English and never looked back. As an English major, all I ever did was write stuff, but none of it was fiction. I did try my hand at writing a children's story about a dragon that blew bubbles instead of fire. It was pretty cute.

When I was getting ready to graduate, (and expecting my first baby), I decided that I would like to write children's books. That didn't seem too hard. (Actually, it is just as hard or harder than any other writing and the competition is ferocious.) I told my husband, but I never did anything about it, never tried to write anything. My baby was born, and at that point I'd pretty much accomplished every goal I'd ever set for myself (college, marriage, motherhood). I felt kind of lost and depressed. I checked a book out of the library called, "How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy," by Orson Scott Card, mostly because I like Orson Scott Card, and not because I thought I could write sci-fi or fantasy. I was still stuck in , "I could never do that" mode.

I went to work frying doughnuts at a local bakery (yum), because Tracy was still in school and we were broke. One day while I was at work, Tracy noticed that Orson Scott Card was doing a book signing at the BYU bookstore. He went home, got one of my Card books and went and got it signed for me. Tracy said he just walked in and no one else was there. He walked right up to Card and got the book signed. This is amazing to me. I've never been to one of his book signings where I didn't have to wait in line forever. Anyway, Tracy brought me the signed book when he picked me up from work. I was excited. He told me that he told Card that I wanted to write science fiction. My first thought was "Why would he say something like that?" and my second thought was, "Wow. He's right." He told me all the good advice that Card had given him, like stop thinking about it and just do it. So I did. I started writing and submitting and writing and submitting some more.

Nine years later, I finally had my first short story published. The more I practice writing, go to conferences, get critiques, give critiques, talk to other writers and just write, write, write, the more I realize that I can do this after all.