When Did I Start Writing?

ecrireHere’s another one that could probably go in the FAQs.

I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked this. The answer is…complex. My creative journey started when I was quite young, though I can’t put an exact year to it.

My mom used to be a babysitter. It was my job to help entertain the kids. I would make up stories for my brother and some of the other kids. Growing up, my mom encouraged my creativity. Telling stories was just one way she did this.

I think I could say I probably started writing around 12 years old. That’s how I remember it anyway. When I was in high school, my tenth grade English teacher required us to keep a journal. She would collect them once a week. She wouldn’t read what was written, but she would just check to see if we were writing in them every day.

I wrote my first poem in that journal.

When I was in 11th grade, I got brave and showed that poem to my English teacher. She liked it. From then on for the rest of the year, she would find student contests for me to enter.

I never really called myself a writer, though. I didn’t have “permission.” Even into college.

Then, during my fourth semester of college, I was waiting in a hallway for a class to end before my next one started. A classmate walked up and saw me reading Writer’s Digest and asked, “Oh, are you a writer?”

I hesitated. Then I said, “yes.”

In that moment, something in me shifted. Something clicked.

I had permission to call myself a writer!

That made all the difference in the world. After that, it didn’t matter if people thought I could or couldn’t do it. It didn’t matter if they liked what I wrote. It didn’t matter if they thought I was a “real writer” or not.

Why?

Because I KNEW I WAS!

I had given myself permission to call myself a writer. To be a writer. To tell anyone who asked what I did. That is when I really started writing.

Researching Books

Thinking
Image used courtesy of The Public Speaking Project under a Creative Commons license.

This could probably go into an FAQ section. A lot of times, I’m asked how much research do I do for my books.

The easy answer is: It depends on the book. Some require more research than others do.

Here’s the thing.

I like to research things. I can easily get lost in Google searches and following tangents until what I’m looking at bears nothing to the original search. So what do I do?

Honestly, I start writing. When I need to know something, I look up that thing. For example, in Navajo Rose, I needed to know some police scanner codes. I did a Google search on that phrase and got a pretty good list on various scanner codes used in law enforcement.

Doing research like this keeps me on track and I don’t go off on very many tangents.

It should go without saying that if I’m writing anything historical/semi-historical, I do a lot more research up front, but I do enough to get going and then look up whatever else I need to know.

I’m still hoping to find an old map of Ireland, the older the better.