My writing has an interesting evolution. When I was in college, I thought I was pretty good. I was a tad bit over-confident. I was an idiot. I am sure the only reason I thought I was good was because I didn’t know anyone else who wrote stories. They were far too busy to delve into the creative writing world. There I was willingly writing short stories during class, after class, at work, anywhere and everywhere. I had a select few friends who read and praised them. Looking back on it, I can’t see why I ever let them read those stories. They aren’t good. I’m not being self-deprecating. I’m being objective. The plots are plotless, and the characters are flat. I wrote several short short stories based on the characters Mia and James, which were unnecessarily dramatic. I also wrote (read: began to write) a story that was only ever titled “Becca and Liam.” The worst of it was that “Becca and Liam” was highly influenced by Twilight, which is both embarrassing and sad. I mean no disrespect to Twilight and Stephenie Meyer. Its embarrassing and sad because I wasn’t writing in my own voice, and the most important thing for a writer is to find her voice.
So my college years were full of rudimentary stories and a strong belief in myself. I couldn’t write anything more than about 4,000 words. Short stories, very short stories, were my “forte.” After I graduated, I went to work on my first novel, wondering how on earth I would ever be able to write more than those first 4,000 words. Then the vulnerability set in. I did manage to write more than 4,000 words, but I was no longer confident. I certainly wasn’t cocky. I had this MG novel in front of me, finished and terrible. I knew it was terrible, and no one, not even one of my friends, would be able to convince me otherwise. With the vulnerability, however, came a desire to improve. I had never wanted to write so much in my life.
When I first met Gandalf, I told her I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I had planned on being a doctor. At the time when we met, though, I was in a transition; I was “finding myself.” After my year in St. Andrews, I had to go back and make a decision. I’ve never been the best decision maker, so choosing my new life plan wasn’t going to be easy. One day, Gandalf and I were in our favorite coffee shop. I’m almost positive I was voicing all my worries in one big breath when she said, “What do you enjoy doing the most?” Without missing a beat, I said, “Writing children’s stories.”
And there it was—the truth, the inevitable truth—I wanted to spend the rest of my life struggling to get the stories out of my head and onto paper in some fashion that would be enjoyable and readable. It dawned on me that I would have to work at some random job while eking out my writing little by little. It was exciting and scary. It was what I wanted but also dreaded. It’s mostly challenging, but I have fun even when I hate it. I smile when I finish a story that I spent months frustrated with, that I almost gave up on. Even though I am still nervous to let someone read my stuff, I beg them to. I need an honest opinion. I know I have improved since the days of “Mia and James” and “Becca and Liam.” (Notice the oh-so-creative titles?) I know I still need to work on it, and that I always will because writing never stops. It constantly needs to be perfected because we’re fastidious as writers. Perhaps we all need a friend like Mr. Bingley to say, “I wouldn’t be as fastidious as you are for a kingdom!”
In the mean time, happy writing!