Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wolff Wednesday: On Being a Writer

Since this week I am all about waiting to hear from my publisher (and tearing my hair out while I do) I thought I'd spend a little time talking about this business of writing. For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a writer. My official biography says that it was from the time I understood that letters made words that told stories, but maybe it was earlier-- and later-- than that.

From the time I could understand the words that came out of his mouth, my father told me stories. Wonderful, fantastical stories filled with whimsical happenings and happy endings. He made up songs to make red-lights turn green, had me sit in our backyard-- absolutely silent-- and listen to the world around us, identifying noises. Gave me a topic-- from my brand new Esprit shirt to the stuffed dog (Sad Sam the Doggy Man) they bought me the day my real dog ran away-- and had me tell him a story about that object. In other words, he exercised my imagination from the time I was a toddler until I was in high school and too cool to spend much time with hm (something I regret greatly now, as he died when I was 21).

But what I'm getting at, is I learned to tell stories when other children were learning the alphabet, learned to make up tales with HEAs when my friends were digging in the sand-- for me it is as natural as breathing. And the day I wrote my first story down, sitting in the car at the bank while my parents were inside getting a loan, I was hooked. The story was written in aqua marker in an old notebook my mom had in the car and it was about a rainbow, a pot of gold, an evil leprachaun and the princess who fell in love with him. I was seven and from that moment on, I couldn't imagine doing anything else with my life.

Fast forward twenty-five years and hear I am, writing stories that I love about characters who interest me-- what more could a girl ask for? Well, the answer to that, is probably a Valium. Or a Xanax, or if you are as high-strung as I am, maybe both. I've never been a good waiter, never had a lot of patience. I'd rather be doing, doing, doing--as my agent found out this last few weeks when I had nothing to do but drive both of us up a wall. And now that I have a contract, I'm not much better-- and I won't be until I hear on the other three contracts that currently have me on tenterhooks.

To be honest, I'm not sure what the point of this blog post is, except to say that I've finally gotten what I want-- to be a published author-- but it hasn't gotten any easier since I signed that first contract. In fact, it's gotten worse-- because now it's not just about will I be published but will I still be published? Will I sell the next book and the next one, or will they just decide they don't want me anymore.

Publishing is a scary, scary world, and my friends and I complain about it regularly, but the truth is, I wouldn't want to do anything else. I love being able to write everyday, love being able to share my stories with the world. So, if I go gray early and get an ulcer waiting to hear from my editor, so be it. I think it just might be worth it ...

How about you? When did you know what you wanted to do with your life? Or are you still trying to figure it out?


  1. The only thing I knew for sure that I wanted to do was be a mom. In the work world, I was really moving along with my career, the manager of my department that I had helped credit at a financial institution. Then my daughter got sick and now I stay at home and take care of the kids and work from home.

    I was lucky, my husband and I both wanted 6 kids...we have 4, so that is pretty close :) I have been with the same company for 12 years, so I guess that am doing something right. When I graduated from college I would have never said that I wanted to be an Underwriter one day, but I really do love it and think that I am pretty good at it. :)

  2. Your dad told you stories and my grandma told me stories. But her stories were usually called things like "Bloody Bones and Dirty Diapers" Yeah she never told me 'nice' stories. lol

    I have finally found where I want to be in life. I have the man I love, a grown daughter and am finally getting my articles published. I knew I wanted to be some sort of writer, I just didn't realize what I would be good at until I found it.

  3. Mary, that's fantastic! Good for you-- what kind of articles? Where can I find one?

    Bloody Bones and Dirty Diapers? Not sure which is more terrifying.

    Amy M-- 6 kids, huh? Wow-- four is a huge accomplishment. I'm barely hanging on with three. And it's assume that you have a job you enjoy and can work from home so you can still be there for the kids when they need you. That's the best of both, isn't it?