What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

I’ve had many goals & dreams in my life, some such as career goals have changed many times. When I was six I wanted to be either an animal farmer or a teacher. When I was twelve I wanted to be an architect. When I was seventeen I wanted to be an accountant. When was I twenty-one I wanted to own a nightclub, when I was twenty-six I just wanted to feel like my college years had been worth it, when my babies were young I wanted to stay home with them but couldn’t. And off and on many times throughout my life I wanted to be a real estate tycoon. But there was only one small window of time – I think maybe ten to eleven – when I wanted to be a writer. I wrote a couple short stories for school and for fun. But my other aspirations took over. I do remember writing a number of heartbreaking poems in Junior High – so full of angst, drama and emotion – but those were to express myself, I never thought about it as a profession. And once the onslaught of mandatory writings in school: research papers, oral reports, book reports and major projects took over; well I never saw writing as fun again. Thank you college for ruining that.

So my adult years had been completely blind to the possibilities of writing as a passion or a career. I continued to feel under-utilized, under-appreciated and under-paid in the corporate world, battling with depression, sense of failure, and overwhelming chaos of trying to raise my kids, do everything, and work outside the home. Now, I’ll tell you a little secret; throughout my life I have had very vivid dreams. So many times my dreams were like movies that played in my head and sometimes I was in them and sometimes I wasn’t. There were just make-believe people doing whatever it was: sometimes love scenes, sometimes scary or action sequences – but always a pretty well developed storyline. I would wake up and think wow; I wish that had happened to me. Or wow, that was cool. Or wow, where the heck did that come from? I would lay there and think about it for awhile. And then months or years later down the road the scene would pop into my head again and I would find myself imagining what would happen next, adding on to the scene in my head and building on it. Daydreaming. I had even thought this story should be a movie; maybe I should be a screenwriter. But the movie industry is tough and no way do I want to live in Los Angeles. So I just kept on with my ordinary life. I never told anyone. Honestly sometime I spent so much time in my head, I was a little afraid it might mean I was developing multiple personality disorder or something.

One day I was home from work sick and was watching Oprah. She had Stephanie Meyer, author of the Twilight Series on. I had just read all of those books twice and was really into them at the moment. They had brought back my love of reading. Stephanie talked about how the whole idea for Twilight came from a dream she had and she felt like she had to write it down. That’s when it clicked for me. If she could write a book from a dream and become a multi-millionaire, maybe I could too. I didn’t have to be a screenwriter for my ‘stories’ to be made into a movie, I could write books and then maybe they’d get picked up for movies too. So then the question was, how hard or easy was it going to be to write a book? Would I be any good at it? I started typing one of my first storylines into the laptop in September 2009. That story had a lot of gaps that I wasn’t sure how I was going to fill them all in. I wasn’t feeling it. So I did outlines of the other stories in my head so I wouldn’t forget all my ideas. The week my husband was gone elk hunting I started writing the biggest story in my head down in a notebook. I started in the middle. I knew it was the middle but I just chose a scene and went with it, later writing other parts of the story before and after. The story flowed. I wrote and wrote and didn’t want to stop. It ended up feeling much easier and more natural than I thought. I used both paper and laptop, switching back and forth depending on the situation. If you have young children you would sympathize, everytime I’d sit down at the computer to type the kids would be crawling onto my lap or begging for something to eat/drink/do. So some nights I would wait until the kids went to bed and then write until midnight, force myself to go to bed, and then get up at 6:00am for work the next day. I was exhausted, but it felt so liberating. As cheesy as it may sound, it felt right, like that was what I should be doing and I couldn’t believe I never thought of it earlier. Where the hell has my head been all these years? Why did it take me so long to figure this out?

I kept my book writing a secret from everyone except my husband for many months afraid that people would think I was crazy, unrealistic or would laugh at me. After many months I finally told my mom and my two best friends and swore them to secrecy. But I still wouldn’t let anyone read anything I wrote or even tell them what the story was about. It felt too personal, and I was too nervous of being discouraged. Within the first year I’d written around two hundred pages, but then things settled down. I had a harder time finding the time to write. You see I work a forty-hour work week outside the home and it’s not something I can change. Without my day job we wouldn’t be able to pay all our bills, nor would we have medical insurance, life insurance or a 401K. My day job is priority, not because I love it, but because it supports my family and my children come first. It allows me to give my kids a better lifestyle than I had at their age. And so unfortunately, the writing gets pushed aside often. I haven’t lost my passion for it though, nor the drive to get it done. I have over 300 pages now but it is full of holes. I’ve written the scenes that are clearest to me and now I need to go back through, put everything in order and fill the gaps and transition things. Also, I did something else kind of crazy in the midst of writing this book over the last three years – I actually started three others. Yes, I have four books going at the same time. None of the others are as far along as this first one, but sometimes those storylines just pop into my head, I get on a roll and go with it. I have to get this stuff out of my head while it is fresh. I don’t want to forget. So I may work on one story when I can for a month, then switch to another for a week, then think of something I can add to another one and jump over to that. I thought I might be breaking some kind of writing rule or at least be crazy for doing this back and forth, but then I read an interview with Nora Roberts and she said she often works on two or three stories at once. I was like “Yes!” I am not a freak.

Since my words first hit paper I’ve started slowly moving in the right direction to have a writing career. I took a creative writing class with my Aunt that was very eye opening. I am reading Writer’s Digest magazine. And I’m following many authors, bloggers and publishers on Twitter. But I started feeling like the more I read articles on ‘don’t make this mistake’, ‘use these words instead of these words’ etc it started making me feel nervous about my writing style and slowed things down. The more I read about the rules of writing the more stifled my creativity is. So I’ve since decided I am just going to write the way I write. I do go back and edit scenes often, rewording things as I read back over them after I’ve had more sleep, but for the most part I am going to get my story down and then I will let the editors do their job when it comes to grammar particulars. In January I made my New Years resolution to have one book completed by December 31st so I could start the new year of 2013 sending off queries to literary agents. It is September again – the three year anniversary of my start date – and I may not be done by the end of the year. But I am not going to freak out about it. Right now I have to raise & feed my children. Sure it would be easier to raise my kids if I was a full-time writer right now but I’m just not there yet. I know I will someday see my dream of having a book published come true. It just may not be in my thirties. Maybe it won’t be for five more years (because I’m sure I’ll have a couple years of rejection letters before I get picked up), or ten, or after my children leave the house and I have lots of time on my hands, but I will see this dream through. For the first time in my life I feel like I am doing what I truly lovely and will be happy doing.

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