I’ve always loved to write. It started in 4th grade when a very fabulous teacher introduced me to writing poetry and got me excited about it. I probably learned some math and science that year as well, but I don’t remember that. I just remember writing. A lot. And like any 9-year-old 4th grader (who thought she was 30) I wanted to be published. But not in those silly kid journals. No, no, I wanted to be in a real, grown-up publication. I wanted fame and prestige unlike what you could garner from silly old Highlights. So I bought myself a copy of Writer’s Market (the 500 page hardcover version, of course) and started mailing my poetry out to journals and magazines. God bless my teacher and parents for teaching me at a young age not to be afraid to fail, because talk about a hot mess!
I addressed my envelopes by hand (because it was 1993 and I was 9) so I can only imagine what editors thought when my envelope came across their desk. Probably something along the lines of ‘good lord, this woman has the handwriting of a 9-year-old!’ I like to think it was enough to make them open the envelope. Just to see what sort of horror lurked inside! Side note: you can check out the horror known as my query letter here). I know what you’re thinking: “Were you the first 9-year-old to be published in a very prestigious poetry journal?” Um, no. Of course not. But I did get a few ACTUAL rejection letters from editors who were nice enough to take out their red pens and leave me constructive criticism and encouragement that I should keep writing. So that when I was an adult I could submit something they would actually consider.
So fast forward a few (or 18) years: I rediscover my love of writing, this time in the form of YA fiction, which I’m obsessed with reading. And I put those poetry skills to use in my novel, writing some song lyrics. Unlike my 9-year-old self, I was somewhat horrified at first to put my work ‘out there,’ despite the amazing encouragement of friends, family, my writing cohort, and…my 4th grade writing teacher. Yes, I know, what 20-something is still in touch with their 4th grade teacher? *Raises hand* This one! But as you can see (by this very public display) I’m working on the sharing. I want nothing more than for my novel to go out and make friends with people.
A confession: Writing is really hard sometimes. Writing something you’re proud of, that truly reflects you as a person (read: something that makes you feel vulnerable and worthwhile of the time and effort) is even harder. If you love to write, be ready for a lot of self-doubt, but also for one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. Check out the “WRITING STUFF” posts for writing and revision tips, and some insider info on the query & submission process!
Side note: It’s also worth mentioning that between 4th grade and present-day I attended college, obtained a degree in public relations, worked in corporate America for 2 years post-graduation (not my scene!) then started my own business.