I suppose, like most authors, if you asked me “how long have you been writing?” I’d tell you I first put pen to paper in eighth grade. Because haven’t we all been writing since, oh, we were out of the cradle?
I wouldn’t be lying. I did first put pen to paper in eighth grade. And that was when I decided I was in love with the power of telling a story – a story that I created, that is. So in a sense, this is a beginning. The beginning of a pipe dream to one day be a published author.
But as I look back with an experienced, impartial eye, that was only the beginning of the dream. I knew very little about how to tell a story. Heck, I knew almost nothing! I only knew that I detested most of my schoolmates and this hobby of scribbling story lines (that were really very thinly veiled autobiography with a hefty dose of fantasy) was a good escape.
I carried that dream for, oh, fifteen years and did very little about it. After all, I had to grow up, go to college, get a “real” job, get married, have kids, yada, yada. You know, all those things we are “supposed to do.” But one night, I don’t know, somewhere around when my first child was born, I got a new beginning. I sat down and started to write a novel. A real novel, with a plot and everything. And characters. But I still didn’t know how to write, so after about ten chapters, I fizzled out.
And life intervened again. I had a second child. I got a new position at work. My kids went to school. My husband, then in the Army, shipped out for a 15-month deployment. The new job position didn’t turn out so well. Again, life interrupted the dream.
But, amazingly enough, I got a chance at a third beginning. I got fired. What to do? I had kids, a husband, a mortgage, a car payment, school tuition. I had to find a job, another day job, something. And then my husband said, “What about finishing that novel? How about taking the summer off and pursuing that dream?”
And that, my friends, was The Beginning (notice I capitalize that one). That was summer 2011. I took the summer off. I wrote the novel. I joined Sisters in Crime. I committed to learning about things like plot, and structure, and how to craft “real” characters – all that writerly stuff. I gave myself the opportunity to fall in love with the dream again. Except maybe this time, the dream could become reality.
In a way, it’s like starting a novel. My story starts here. No, wait – it starts here. Hold on, it really starts here.
The point is, sometimes what you think is the beginning, really isn’t. And that’s okay. Sometimes, you have to keep hammering away at it – the book, the dream, whatever – to find the real beginning. You’ll know the real beginning because it will be the one that pushes you forward and makes you keep on taking the next step in your journey.
I guess in that sense, 2013 was yet another beginning for me. It was the year I began to be a professional. I wrote every day. I revised, I took classes, I submitted. And — I got published (okay, the first publication credit was November 2012, but I’m sticking with 2013 as “the beginning of my professional fiction career”).
It took a long time to get to that beginning – longer than I care to think. But now, having begun, I don’t think I’d have it any other way. Because it was the right beginning. Any any writer can tell you, the right beginning is priceless.
So tell me – how many “beginnings” have you had?