For most of my early life, I really wanted to be an artist. Yes, an artist – paint brushes, oils, canvas, pencils and all that. It may be a strange way to start a post on how I became a writer, but there you have it.
Hi, I’m Autumn. This is my first blog here at Guild of Dreams and my chance to introduce myself. The important facts about me you can find on my “home blog” of No Map Nomads, on my Author’s Page at Amazon, or here at the Guild of Dreams. But to save you the clicking, here you go: I live in Maine with my husband and two tremendously cute cairn terriers. We all live in a 24′ yurt (if you don’t know what that is think Mongolia and giant round tents), but we are building a “cottage”. I’ll let you know how that goes . . . . In my day job, I’m a conservationist and work on saving the environment. That sounds really cool, but is a lot of paperwork usually! But my real passion, now that I’ve discovered it, is writing. And this post is about how I became a writer.
As is the case when there is something you love to do – and have all the free time childhood can offer – I spent a lot of time while growing up drawing. I became quite good at it. Everyone said so. They would ask “Are you going to be an artist when you grow up?” I said “yes,” of course. What else would an eight year old say?
I never paid attention to the fact that everything I drew was to illustrate one of the many stories zooming around my youthful brain. Even though in high school I won a short story competition and wrote for the newspaper, that I took editing and writing courses in college, and that my honors project was writing five short stories and illustrating them, I never took my eyes from the fact that I was going to become an artist (I will not acknowledge the pink journal of really bad poetry I wrote in Elementary School which, upon learning the existece of from my mom, my husband hid away knowing if I got my hands on it, I would burn it!) I never had a second thought about my career path until I graduated, got a job at an art gallery, and sat staring blankly at a piece of white paper. I had no ideas to paint.
There are two things I’ve realized about my painterly abilities. One is that I’m a great copy artist. While I can draw just about anything put in front of me, original ideas are difficult for me to come by. I lack vision. And the second is that the stories and ideas in my head I have a difficult time putting on paper in image form. I would become immensely frustrated trying to capture in one scene a story scape trapped in my mind. I just never got good at that.
I virtually abandoned painting and my life went on with graduate school to switch my major to a more practical science degree. Then my boyfriend, now husband, found a few pages of a story I’d written tucked inside my plant pathology notes. Years before an aimless walk had led to an abandoned trail only differentiated from the forest by the deeper collection of leaves and pine needles. Eventually I found a set of stone steps. I still remember the shiver of “oh this would be so great in a story” that came with the discovery. The idea grew until I wrote snatches of it in college and university notebooks (At least I was writing something in my notebooks – even if it was not relevant to the class!) . It was my husband’s encouragement to write the whole thing down that led to my first novel Ancient Fragments.
Ancient Fragments remains unpublished. Looking back, I can see that I made just about every novice mistake when I wrote it. But I can say I did write it, and I loved the experience. It is what made me realize that I’d been pursuing the wrong interest all along. Everyone, including myself, had focused on the very visible side of my childhood hobby of daydreaming.
Years after having written Ancient Fragments, I now consider myself a writer. There were many starts and stops. Ancient Fragments took nearly eight years to spit out. It took a few more to take writing seriously, to admit I wanted to be published, and to realize I had a lot more ideas in my head. I’ve taken a couple of Adult Education courses focused on novel writing and I’ve done the slogging through query letters to editors. (If you add up all those years just mentioned, you’ll realize I’m older than I look. Most people peg me for 28 and I’ll happily accept that decade-off assessment!)With only one book on Kindle, Born of Water, I’m still learning the ropes. But one thing remains the same, I love writing.
If figuring out a plot point hinted at early in the novel is fun to do as a reader, that has nothing on being the person who creates that little tidbit early in the novel to have it come around full force later. I love the moments in creating a story when everything comes together. The shiver of inspiration that came to me on the discovery of the abandoned stone steps lost in the forest is minuscule compared to the breathless joy of uniting plot threads while leading a story into unknown terrain. I love brainstorming new creative elements, and I absolutely adore the moment when I finish writing the last word in a novel. It means I get to flip back to the beginning and start editing as I read through and experience the story all over again. I’ve been told that if you like editing, you are either crazy or you are a writer.
And perhaps one of my favorite things about being a writer is that you can share a story you’ve created with someone who will experience it directly in his or her mind as they read it. Somehow the dreams I form into words will be translated back into images and be experienced by someone else. It will become theirs as much as it ever was mine. Something about that just amazes me.
I write because I have too many ideas in my head. Through writing, I can selfishly explore the depths and intricacies that I may breeze through if they stayed in ephemeral form. And then I can pass on that idea to be experienced first hand by someone else. That is why I am a writer. For me, it is as simple as that.
My novel, Born of Water, currently has a free promo going to celebrate the Summer Solstice – and the opening day of the novel. The promo ends 6/21/2012 at midnight – check it out while you have time!