This holiday week, the Inkitt bloggers will be reflecting on why they write. Read on for insight into their personal journeys…
When I was a kid, my schoolteacher mother took time off to raise her three children, but she still had the instincts of an educator. She would make up lessons for us to do in the summer. This might sound like punishment, but I loved it. I knew all of the multiplication tables by heart in the first grade, and I enjoyed having an edge. I also loved digging into her “treasure box” when I completed an assignment.
One time, she cut a picture out of a magazine and told me to write a story about it. When I was done, she asked if I’d copied it from anywhere. Incensed, I said I had not. At age seven or eight, it wouldn’t have dawned on me to “cheat” anyway. I loved telling the story in that illustration, creating worlds and backstories that otherwise didn’t exist. And from that moment on, I’ve always thought of writing as something I like to do.
There was never any doubt that I’d be an English major. However, I was also interested in anthropology, and eventually I turned my attention to archaeology. I still did lots of writing and editing, but none of it was on the project I really wanted to tackle: writing a novel. Even saying that out loud seemed like I was putting my heart on the line, exposing a big secret. What if I couldn’t do it?
Finally after grad school I had the chance to do it: attempt to write my book. I had a couple of summer months before my job at the local college would begin. I could do 90,000 words in the summer, right? Hey—I just wrote a thesis. I had been in training. Granted, ground-penetrating radar use in archaeology had nothing to do with it, but I’d tackled a large document. The sheer size and complexity of a novel was intimidating, but I figured it couldn’t be worse than the thesis. I was wrong.
Anyone who’s actually gotten to The End on a manuscript knows it’s a Herculean effort to arrive there. Though compared to getting said novel published, it’s easy. I’d joined a writer’s organization and learned that to get a traditional book publisher, I’d need an agent. I’d seen a particular agent speak at a conference, and I knew I wanted her. So I sent out one query letter, addressed to New York. And not days later, this very agent called me on the phone. She wanted to know if she had an exclusive look, and if not, if I’d grant her the weekend to read my story.
Wow, I thought. My research and preparation really paid off. The dream I couldn’t even fully articulate—to be a published writer of fiction—was about to come true. And I was going to get there on the first try.
Well, that didn’t happen. My dream agent didn’t end up representing me. Overwhelming disappointment discouraged me. Not getting there year after year embarrassed me. I tried to give it up. But then another story would come to me, and I’d learn more, and I’d try again. Eventually, I started to understand what I was doing right and where I was going wrong. But like the little girl who wrote a story about the picture in the magazine, I still write because I have stories to tell.