Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How I Knew I was a Writer

In my unending quest to blog about things of a literary nature, I thought I should talk about how to know if you are a writer or not.

I was an unusual kid. Hell, I am an unusual adult! LOL. Seriously, though, how many eight year olds do you know sit in their rooms for hours writing novels? Yep, that was me. Geeky, dorky, nerdy me. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I also read like a fiend as well. Words were my life. In 5th grade, a teacher of mine had an article in an education periodical. In that article, she wrote "Lauren knew she was indeed a writer." Yeah! I STILL take serious pride in that comment. An adult saw serious talent in me at the ripe old age of 10!

Then life hit. I wrote up until I was in college. College writing was just crapping out a term paper as quickly as possible. I had no time to create. Reading was just trying to understand the gibberish in ridiculously large and heavy burdens they called text books. Reading and writing had lost their novelty. Though, I took a few courses in Hispanic literature and art, and I was still able to appreciate the written word then. That was it, though. Minimal for an English nerd such as myself.

Then REAL life hit. I was in my early twenties embarking on a career in the sciences. I LOVED my work in the veterinary field, don't get me wrong. I ate, slept, drank, dreamed and lived veterinary medicine. Like any job in the medical field, though, it was extremely time consuming. Once again, literature was pushed back; this time even further. All I had time for was reading the latest in veterinary progress, treatments, etc. You have to have a certain number of continuing education every year in order to mainatin your professional license. So, my reading and free time were focused on all things veterinary. I had no choice.

I missed writing, though. I missed history. I missed the creativity. Science challenged me, and for that I am ever grateful. Language touched me, though. And my heart longed for it.

On rare occasions, I could implement my writing into my job by doing things like booklets, informative brochures and boring crap like that. It was not glamorous by any means, but it was a brief taste of the passion I had had since early childhood.

My life took a drastic turn a few years ago. Suddenly, I was writing more. A LOT more. It was great. My vocabulary expanded! My creativity returned. I was the little girl who could write again! :) I was still going with my old hat: historical non-fiction. Boring I know, but I'm also a history nerd so it suited me well. I wrote some fiction in my spare time, but as I've said previously, that work was for my eyes only. I knew my fiction kung-fu was weak (anyone get that reference? LOL), but it was fun to try. I didn't expect it to go anywhere, and I was fine with that plan.

Then, through a friend, I found the amazing Vanilla Heart Publishing. For some reason, they took a chance on me. Me! The kid who couldn't write fiction to save her hide was offered work as a fiction writer! LOL. I thought they must have been crazy, but I was thrilled that their insanity worked out to my benefit! :) Here I am, almost 3 books (2 out & one due out soon) later, and I LOVE it. I'm trying a few new things with fiction and I have this amazing community of writers and scholars who are FAR above my piddly little writing level, but we all work and support each other as a family! VHP was the greatest thing that ever happened to me! :)

Enough about me. How do you know if you're a writer? Well, there are a few things that you should examine.

First off, do you know verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, etc? Do you know what a proposition is? Do you know that that last question was not written correctly because it ended on a proposition? LOL. Yes, I am a self-admitted grammar nazi. Grammar isn't everything, but it really is important. A good writer knows more than the basics. They are also well-versed enough that they can properly edit their own work before it goes into publication. Yes, there are editors & that's what their job is, but let me tell you that it is far more impressive to have a strong, well-edited piece. It makes life a hell of a lot easier for your publisher & editor. They'll like you more too. ;) It's just smart to make your piece as strong and polished as you can before it goes into the editor's hands.

Secondly, do you like words? Do you enjoy expanding your vocabulary on a regular basis? Do you like the challenge of creating interesting sentences. Can you turn "it was a nice spring day out" into "The sun glowed brightly against a pale blue sky. The light, fluffy clouds danced to the songs from the birds as the flowers gently swayed in the breeze. Spring was here, and all of nature sang to its glory."? Seriously. That's the kind of stuff a good writer should be able to do. You're not just relaying a story. You're painting. How boring would the Sistine Chapel be if the angels were just blobs? Michaelangelo added details into his paintings. As we writers should with our words. Make sense?

You also have to love working hard. It's not necessarily physical labor, but you have to write, write, and write some more. You have to promote your work. You have to tell the world about who you are and what you've created. You have to make appearances on-line and in the real world so people know who you are, and they know your books. It takes a lot of dedication and time. Your ass may hurt from sitting in front of the computer for hours on end, but that is the price we pay for pursuing this dream. It's not glamorous at all, and very few people become the next James Patterson, but it's still worth the effort if your motivation is to create, not to become famous.

Make sure your priorities are straight. If you just want instant fame, writing is NOT the right industry for you. Go audition for a reality show! LOL. :)

So, that's it folks. It takes time, desire, determination, hard work, knowledge and passion to be a real writer. You have to love it, eat it, BE it. Words should be your life. That's what it takes.

Now, if you're one of the folks who just want to give writing a whirl, GO FOR IT!!!! I tell everyone to at least try it. Why? They'll see that it's not as easy as it seems. But it's also a great way to challenge yourself, to grow, to become more educated. You should always write to write. Publication doesn't have to be your end goal. For me, even as a published writer, that is the icing on the cake. To be able to create something new is really my goal. To write a suspense novel was my goal when I embarked on the story of Unbreakable Hostage. Getting it published and reaping all the rewards that I am now is just an incredible bonus.

So go and write, folks. Have fun, be creative! Enjoy writing! :)


Sun Singer said...

You're cooking with gas now! And having fun as well.


L. E. Harvey said...

Thank you so much! :) It is fun. I love the fact that I can challenge myself and to create people, places and stories! :)

Thank you for all of your support! :)

ChainsawChick said...

This is a great post! We get to learn a little more about you:) I envision you someday writing your books from the comfort of a lounge chair on the beach with laptop in hand:)

L. E. Harvey said...

I would LOVE to write in that kind of scenario! Thanks!!! :)