Ever since I was a little girl, books have been among my best friends. I read and reread some of my favorites until they fell apart, and then I read them some more. Sometimes my dad would decide I needed a bit of fresh air and make me put down whatever book I was currently enthralled with to go outside for a while. At that stage, it never occurred to me that I could write my own stories.
Then, when I was ten, my fifth grade teacher Mrs. Mackey set the class to writing ‘creative sentences’. Only I didn’t stop with sentences, but kept going into paragraphs and then stories. The next year, I wrote a holiday play for our class to perform. I don’t think it was very good (okay, I’m positive it was terrible), but that didn’t stop me from writing more and more.
For my birthday soon after, my dad brought me a manual typewriter. That thing probably weighed thirty pounds and it was used, but I loved it. If I wasn’t reading, I was typing up some new story.
By the time I reached high school, my stories had gotten longer. And I’d discovered my mom’s romance novel stash, so the mysteries I’d sometimes incorporated into my stories gave way to romance. I had some fabulous teachers then who encouraged both my love of reading and my need to write, like Mr. Tate and Mrs. Smith.
For a number of years after school, I still read avidly and wrote snippets of stories (and some truly awful poems), but life happens and before you know it, you’re not spending as much time as you want on the things you love--though I did still find time to scribble down pages and pages of ideas.
When my second son was born, I spent much of my maternity leave writing–this time on an electric typewriter I’d gotten from my mother-in-law. It was the first time I’d finished a full-length romance novel, and I was thrilled. Of course, it was dreadful, but I didn’t know that at the time, and it encouraged me to spend more time writing. During the boys’ naptimes, or on my days off, if I wasn’t writing, I was studying another writing how-to book. I found some terrific writers’ groups at that stage–Momwriters, Pennwriters, RWA, CPRW–and met a lot of very smart, very generous writers, and made some friends I still adore today.
I also began to collect rejection letters from editors and agents. By now, it’s a rather large collection, but none of them ever dampened my desire to write. Sometimes they were just form letters, but occasionally they were more personal–“I love this, but can’t buy this kind of story right now.” The kind of note that makes you want to keep going.
When I finally got the right story in front of the right agent at exactly the right time, there was a lot of celebrating in our house.
When I’m not writing, I have a day-job I enjoy very much, and a garden space full of weeds trying to crowd out my herbs and veggies, plus my husband and two young adult sons who are all heroes in their own right. And a room full a books. Always.