Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Writing Journey

In my dreams, I should have been a best-selling author by the time I was 19. I started writing romance in high school, and I had some talent, a bit of tenacity and a lot of audacity.

I knew what my destiny was, and it was only a matter of time before my dream happened.

And I came close. I submitted the first three chapters of my book to Genesis Press, and I got a request for a full manuscript.

I was over the moon. I was living my dream.

But life changed that dream, and the plan to become an author skidded a dead stop.

I couldn't write. I wouldn't write. I couldn't get past the first three chapters. I couldn't figure out the middle. I couldn't write the ending (although I knew it would be happy and glorious).

School got in the way. Life got in the way. Everything got in the way of writing.

I tried to find time to write and became an unsuccessful binge writer. Every few months, when I had a huge chunk of time devoted to writing, I would return to my first novel, If Only For One Night, and got acquainted with my characters again. I let them sit in my head for a few hours or a few days, but then I had to escort them out when the buzzer rang and I had to return to my other responsibilities.

So I quit. I gave up, shelved my manuscript, hid all my writing books, and gave away all my Writers Digest magazines to the Greenbelt branch of the Prince Georges County Memorial Library System.

The day I made my donation to the Greenbelt library, I almost cried. I had accumulated so much from those magazines, and here I was, tossing it all way. The bookshop volunteer looked at me and smiled. "You'll come back to writing again."

I shook my head. "M'am, I'm done with writing. I can't do it. I'm not good at it."

She smiled again and told me that I would come back to it. I asked for my receipt and left. At that moment, I felt like a failure. I was a failure. I let myself down. After doing so much with my life, I couldn't do the one thing I always wanted to do.

I cursed writing to hell and pushed it out of my life.

For the few years after that, I was done with writing. I read romances, mysteries with reckless abandon, and I read some horrible pieces of tripe that made me think I could do better.

I never did.

Until January 2009 when I was making a list of resolutions. The list was filled with the same old:

1. Be nicer

2. Drink more water

3. Get married (or at least date) someone who has Bill Gates' money and The Rock's body

4. Have a successful semester as a teacher and researcher

5. Win Powerball

Then, my hand wrote, "Start writing again." The rest of resolutions had to do with writing: starting a novel, submitting to a competition, I didn't know where it came from. It was not at the forefront of my mind. I had thought about getting back into writing, but I catalogued those thoughts as miscellaneous, random pipe dreams.

Since I believe in happenstance, luck, serendipity, angels, the Great Pumpkin, and God, I don't question the logic of the universe. What happens is meant to happen. I was supposed to be a writer. That's been my calling, my dream. And God was telling me to just roll with it and to put in the work to make the dream come true.

So I rolled with it and started putting in the work.

I joined the local RWA chapter. I went to some meetings. I started dissecting the novels I was reading. I connected with other authors. I found a writing group. I made moves, and it felt good. I felt like myself again.

That brings me to the present. I have resigned myself that my first book needs a fresh approach so it's being gutted and reworked. I have an abundance of ideas that keep spilling out in unexpected places and at unexpected times. (One night at Ruby Tuesdays, I used a whole dispenser of napkins to sketch out an idea. My server was not pleased.) I am learning how to manage my time and how to schedule my writing. I'm back on track. I'm no longer 19 with my eye on the bestseller charts, but I am older, a bit wiser, and more determine to be a successful writer.

1 comment:

  1. Tiana,
    Reading this, I am even more convinced our group's coming is serendipitious. What do you need right now to be more successful at writing? What can we focus on in coming week's that will benefit you?