Monday, December 14, 2009

Why I Started Writing

Christmas and the end of the year always have me contemplating my life. So since you're all privy to the inner workings of my mind, you get to come along for the journey.

Today: Why I Started Writing.

Disclosure: I'm not someone who's always wanted to be a writer. When I was growing up, I didn't feel this desire to pen words. In fact, I abhorred English classes and opted out of them my senior year. I went into Chemistry as a freshman in college. English? Writing? Humanities? A big fat "no thank you."

I think this is like, one of the seven deadly sins or something, so if you want to stop reading here, feel free.

But anyway, I didn't want to be a writer. I wanted to teach. You see, I had imagination. I spent hours making the roll for my "class." I wrote kids' names on the board. I gave grades. I was born to be a teacher.

And I am.

It's awesome. I love it.

So fast forward to Thanksgiving, 2007. Well, okay, back up a bit. The August before that I suffered a horrific personal loss.

And I disappeared.

I got up each day and got the kids ready for school. I went to work. I existed. But only in shades of gray, in world with no color, no emotion, no nothing. If you ask me what happened during those four months, I can't tell you.

I was alive, but not living.

My husband would ask me how my day was (as he knew I wasn't whole, but didn't know how to put all my broken pieces back together), and I'd simply look at him. I had no words. Because it was just another day and I had made it through.

So Thanksgiving came. I was going to be 30 in two weeks, so I decided to sit down and write my personal life history (cuz I'm into family history and stuff). And I found that when I sat at the computer and poured words onto the screen, I could live.

Really live.

And so I finished my personal history of the first 30 years of my life and immediately opened a new document and began writing another story.

And thus, how I started writing.

Because I don't do anything halfway, I've since determined that I want to be a published author. And so I'm pursuing that.

But you know what? No matter what happens in 2010, no matter if I get a book deal or I don't, I know one thing.

I am already a successful writer. Because writing provided a light in a dark dark place when I couldn't find the exit.

And that's better than a book deal.

But I'll take a book deal too, pretty please. *wink*

So, my dearest readers and beloved friends, why did you start writing?


Mary E Campbell said...

I'm with your Elana - I didn't always want to be a writer - I did love Literature classes though and reading. I too was in the bogs of depression when writing helped drag me out and helped me to feel like a person again. It is what saved me. So published or not, I'll keep writing. Plus, writing gave me the chance to get to know other amazing writers - like you - so it's a double win.

Catherine Denton said...

Thank you for sharing so openly. I started writing to get the stories out of my head.

Carolyn R. Parsons said...

Same reason but at a younger age...I lived in my dreams, spent more time in my imagination than in my real life and when I learned to record the dreams on paper I was whole. Then life happened..though I wrote..always...I never pursued it as a career because...well it's just dream stuff...playing....and adults don't play...then last year, I reached a turning point..after 6 years at home with my children they baby started what? I decided I am a writer and I am going to remain one. I have a part time job but no interest in resuming the successful business career I'd built..the thought gives me anxiety.

So I write, fiction and poetry, and my first book of poetry has been published and my novel will be published next's amazing and what a journey!


Karen Baldwin said...

I too write emotionally whether it's sadness, anger, or excitement. Problem is, I see irony in almost all situations and have been caught laughing at the most inappropriate times. Writing is safer. For as long as I can remember, I've seen a different perspective on life's situations. And that's what I like to write about.

Jessica Nelson said...

Wow, thank you for sharing that! I think I want to share mine on my blog sometimes. Can I steal your idea? LOL

Seriously though, I think it's great that you found this love. I've always loved writing and reading and those were my fave classes. I absolutely CANNOT relate to you taking chemistry without being forced to. LOL

V. S said...

I started writing after I read Intensity by Dean Koontz. He is simply amazing.

Christina Lee said...

WOW, Elena, that was so lovely! I have always been a lover of words and have always written poetry and in my journal. I always thought a "dream job" was to be a writer but I never saw myself as being capable of doing that. And so I went into teaching and found that the best part of my day was the language arts block when I read the kids books--LOL!! Soon after, I began freelance writing and then got my own coulumn in a local newspaper--and the rest as they say, is history!

Danielle said...

I guess I'm one of those people who could never not write. My mother is a writer, as was my grandfather, and my dad is a big reader- reading and writing was a big thing in my house. I started writing pretty much as soon as I learned how, my mom always encouraged me and edited my fairy tales and my fan-fiction, I'm pretty sure she's saved all of it. I take my writing a lot more seriously now, and I'm hoping to be an author like my mom.

Casey Something said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your dark time, Elana. *Hugs!* But what a beautiful byproduct.

Carolyn V. said...

Excellent post. I started writing because it was fun. I too didn't want to write as a kid, but I loved book stores and libraries.

Wow, just what I needed to hear today. Thanks Elana

Sherrie Petersen said...

I've always written. The funny thing is, even when I would write journal entries, I would embellish. So I always knew I would be writing fiction.

I'm sorry you had to go through a dark time to discover writing. It's a great outlet for healing though, isn't it?

Trevor said...

Goosebumps. I'm not kidding. This is good stuff.

Scott said...

Like you, I didn't say "I want to be a writer" when asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, or later on career day in high school. Being a writer was the last thing I'd ever thought about. Yeah, I had a vivid imagination. I grew up . . . never mind!

One day, after reading one of my favorite series for probably the 100th time, I thought "I wonder what adventures these characters had after 'the end'?" So, I wrote those adventures, and then I wrote about new adventures for new characters and worlds and situations, and I haven't stopped since.


Unknown said...

I've written on and off all my life but I got serious about it in the summer of 08'. I had read all my favorite books at least three times a piece and decided "Hey I can do this" so I started writing a book :)

Anonymous said...

I started writing when I was 7 years old after we did a brainstorming and creative writing exercise in school and I have been at it ever since. It is what I was made for! I don't think that it is odd that you did not start off writing as a child as we are constantly changing and evolving. No matter what happens, I am so very happy that writng was able to remove you from that dark place!!! Welcome to the Wonderful World of Writing my dear!!! :o)

Unknown said...

I liked diagramming sentences in high school. I know - sick and wrong. That's not why I started writing though. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I'd reply with the expected "rock star" answer, but that wasn't what I really want to be either. I just wanted to be a mom and I am. Yea! But a year ago a writer friend of mine challenged me to do nano with her just for fun. I loved it! A year later I'm working on my third novel and revising/rewriting two others respectively.

It was cool to learn how you got started. I guess I just assumed anyone as dedicated as you are naturally just always wanted it. I'm so glad writing brings you joy!

Bish Denham said...

I've been writing for about as long as I can remember. For me it's almost like breathing, something that comes naturally.

However, I tend to write in big spurts and then not write for months and months at time. Despite that, I'm pretty prolific.

Corey Schwartz said...

Oh, Elana, I'm so glad you found a way out of the darkness.

Reminds me a little of Doreen Cronin... she wrote Click Clack Moo while she was grieving over the death of her father.

Paul Greci said...

I fell in love with YA fiction as a teacher when I was reading tons of it. I started playing around with writing YA several several years ago but didn't immerse myself until I started writing about a loss in my life.
Like you, I don't do things half-way. After that idea from my loss turned into a manuscript, I resigned from my teaching job to write full-time. That was two and a half years ago. And, no matter where it goes from here, I'm glad I dove in.

Anonymous said...

Although I don't know your experience, I still want to tell you how sorry I am for that dark place. I understand the dark places and that it's so difficult to find your way free. I'm so glad for you that writing helped you work your way out of there. God Bless.

As for why I started writing, I was one of those who always knew I wanted to write. However, life got in the way and I gave up. It wasn't until last year that a friend (Carolyn V) began her writing journey and shared it with me that I found my own way out of the dark. It's amazing how different things look in the sun.

My most heartfelt wishes for success for you, Elana. Although, I'm pretty sure you've already found it.

Unknown said...

My mother is an author, so I started writing before I can even remember anything--it was what you did. I've been reading for as long. I love being transported into another place and another person. And I want to do that for other people. I started writing for children and youth when I watched my own children get sucked into books and I wanted to see that light and enthusiasm from something I wrote.

I echo L.T. in saying I'm sorry about that dark place. I've been in my own and never want to go back. *hugs*

lisa and laura said...

Oh Elana, I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm sorry you had to live in that dark place for all those months. But man am I happy that your writing brought you light and continues to bring light to so many others. I think you are an amazing person, E. Thanks for sharing this story. This definitely keeps things in perspective.

PJ Hoover said...

I love your story, Elana. And am so sorry for your loss.
I never wanted to write either. And so there was an engineering degree and 15 years designing chips. And then kid 2 was born and I changed and I've never regretted it.

DL Hammons said...

You asked for it.

I started writing because I wanted to impress the cheerleader.

It was my junior year of high school and our literature teacher came up with a new assignment.
She broke our class down into groups of five and I was placed in one with three other guys and Vicki, the most popular cheerleader at HHS high school. Mrs. Pennington, our teacher, instructed us to produce an audio show similar to the serials such as Dick Tracy and Little Orphan Annie during the golden years of radio. Since the show had to be an original idea, it meant the group had to write our own scripts, which I quickly volunteered to do as a way to impress Vicki.

The group decided to do something along the lines of Thriller Theater, so I wrote a story involving a family who purchased an old floor standing mirror and the strange things that happen when their small son with an active imagination starts playing with a mysterious friend he sees in the mirror. After our teams’ project was presented during class Mrs. Pennington called our group aside and demanded we tell her where we got the story we used, upset that we had not used original material as she had instructed. When we finally convinced her that I had written the story myelf, she was so impressed she urged me to submit the story to several writing contests.

I never followed through with her suggestions, preferring to stay out of the spotlight and be content that the act of writing itself was rewarding enough for me, that and the admiration of Vicky.

I ended up writing for the school newspaper my senior year, but after high school my writing took a back seat to life. College, a career, a wife, three kids with all that entails, all ganged up on me and successfully suppressed my urge to write and create. Two years ago I stumbled into blogging and immediately I could feel the creative juices start to flow again. Next I found myself writing a couple of short stories, which still sit on the shelf I deposited them on when I was finished.

Now I've written two books (both unpublished) and have no intention of stopping anytime soon.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

I started writing at seven. I loved hearing your story. What an amazing journey. The process is truly transforming, isn't it? I have a feeling 2010 will be your year.

Jemi Fraser said...

I've always made up stories - some made it to paper, some lived only in my head. I wanted to be, well, just about everything at one time or another :) I decided a year or so ago, to look into the ins and outs of the publishing world. It's a lot to learn!

Teri said...

I've always written, but I forgot about it for a while. I spent so much of high school and college writing, but when I graduated, I was focused on being married and having children. One day last year it was like something lammed into me, reminding me of what I loved to do. I have a long road ahead, but love it!

Natalie said...

Thanks for sharing Elana! I'm like you in that I never wanted to be a writer (or write anything) until 2 years ago. Then I just decided I wanted to try. I love reading and I thought I could probably write something good if I tried. I'm still trying :)

Steena Holmes said...

Great question!

I always wanted to write but never thought I could. I won a few contests as a youth but gave it all up as an adult.

I started to write again while at a job. I sat at a desk for 8 hrs and did nothing but smile at people as they entered our door. So I wrote. Just as a hobby. My mother-in-law told me of a contest she thought I might be interested in. So I entered. I never proofed my work, no critiques and wrote a 'rough' ending ... but amazingly I won. My story was published (after some polishing) and thus the passion was born.

now I write because I can :)

Christine Fonseca said...

What a beautiful post. In all the convos we've had...I don't think I ever heard the "why" behind your writing. Thanks for sharing. And you know what, the world is a better place BECAUSE you write!!! *hugs* and happy holidays

Southpaw said...

I'm with you too. Writing was not something I was into. Then one day I just started writing, I'm still not too sure why, but it really makes me happy.

Cellophane Queen said...

I write, otherwise, I'd have to go back to work. 35 years of tech writing is enough. Getting and agent would be cool, but my three published (by other than myself) books, and my two self-pubs, which have been relatively successful, plus 35+ short stories published assures me I'm a damn fine writer.

Just because the publishing world is falling apart doesn't mean you aren't great because you're still waiting for the "magic" of agent/big publishers goodness.

Write, therefore you are!

Cellophane Queen said...

that's AN agent. I hate typos.

Other grammar/punctuation problems: screw 'em.

Cole Gibsen said...

Beautiful story, Elana. I'm so sorry for your loss but am so glad that the timing worked out and I got to meet you :)

Katie Ganshert said...

Thanks for sharing your journey as a writer. It's amazing what penning words can do. How therepeutic it can be.

I started writing because, well...who knows why. I always loved it. I grew up with a pencil in my hand a notebook and I'd just lay in my bed as a little girl and write stories.

I was opposite of you. I always wanted to be a writer. Never a teacher. And now look at us...we're both!

Tana said...

I loved reading about how you came to be a writer. My route was a little more direct with a heated racehorse-bucking-in-the-stalls mentality. Suffice it to say I'm still bucking but I'm having a great time trying to break through that gate ;)

Little Ms J said...

My writing came from loss as well. I was fourteen and lost a very close friend. I didn't know how to process all the things I felt and my dad bought me a journal because I wasn't talking. He told me to write anything I wanted and before long I started writing poems about death, which turned into short stories and then into longer stories. Before long I had a journal filled with everything I wondered about, but didn't know how to communicate to anyone else. I feel like my friend gave me a gift of words.

Danyelle L. said...

*hugs* Elana.

I've always written, because like you, words are what kept me alive, and made my reality more bearable. I could lose myself in words, recreate who I was, and what I was capable of.

I originally wrote as an escape, but now I write because it's a part of who I am. It keeps me sane, helps me figure myself out, and helps to keep those imaginary people from yelling at me. O:)

Melissa Hurst said...

I've wanted to be a writer since I was in sixth grade, but I never acted on it. In fact, I became a teacher, too. But I came to the realization this year that it's now or never...I'm not getting any younger. And I am so happy now that I'm writing. It's like I discovered a piece of me that has been missing.

Gail said...

We have similarities... I never wanted to write, but I loved reading And reading led me into teaching (which I wanted to do from age 3 forward), I taught for 30 yrs and always loved children's lit and decided I wanted to write for kids. No time or inclination until I retired from teaching in 06. I'm still working on trying to get an agent and get published.I do understand the release and relief writing brings to loss and difficult times. I'm working through a different loss of my own. You can read about it on my blog under the posts called Visualeyes.

Suzette Saxton said...

What a beautiful post. You are such an amazing person.

ND_Green said...

I've always loved to write, but there was a period of time when I stopped for some reason. Well, actually a lot of reasons. I was a lot less happy then. But once I started writing again, I felt a kind of peace. It settled me in a manner of speaking. Which I really needed because I was just starting law school--an all too humbling experience. So I'm completely with you on the writing as a form of therapy theme.

Blooming Eventually said...

Beautiful post. Thank you. I've been writing since forever, but I think I started to communicate with the world the things I couldn't say aloud.

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