Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Fricassee

Okay, today belongs to you.

When did you first know you were a writer?

I mean, really knew?

I started writing when I was six, but lost my way with theatre and, ultimately, music, in which I majored at college. I always wrote, but I didn't write. Sometimes people would say, "Are you a writer?" And of course I'd say no.

Why is it that others can sometimes see our gifts when we are blind to them?

Anyway, I want to hear your story. When did you BECOME?


  1. LOL. I have no idea. I'm not even positive I am one. I mean yes, I can string a bunch of words together and sometimes they make sense. But I'm not sure if that makes me a writer. However, I can dream about being one. :D

  2. For me, I am still totally waiting on that moment... I wouldn't say I'm a writer yet :)

  3. "Writer" always conjures up people like Steinbeck or Salinger or Harper Lee to me, so I don't/never will qualify in that sense. But a middle school English teacher asked if she could publish a couple of my poems in the school lit. magazine and that notice of my work made me feel as if maybe I =could= be one someday. Still waiting, even after 6 books pubbed :-)

    So for now, I'm sticking with "I write."

  4. In 6th grade when we were supposed to write a story - 500 words and mine was 1500. I had to stop because the teacher refused to look at it if it got any longer.

  5. I’ve known it was my “thing” since I was old enough to write. In eighth grade, I had a literature teacher that noticed and cultivated my passion. I’ve always dreamed of becoming an author—can’t really remember anything else I wanted to do more—but in high school, I was dissuaded by the so-called “guidance” counselors from seriously pursuing a writing career. It took a failed attempt as a psychology major in college followed by several years of working dead-end jobs—writing constantly the whole time—to realize I had to follow my passion if I wanted to be happy.
    So I guess I’ve always seen myself as a writer, but I think it will take my first major publication for me to see myself as an author.

  6. I used to read Alias fanfiction, the when I couldn't find enough stories I liked, I started writing my own. One of the reviewers who commented on one of the stories, wrote something like "Wow, you're really good, you should write original fiction, I'd read it." That surprised me because I always thought writers were these mythological people, not people like me. I already had a few original fiction stories in the world, spy and non-spy related and started referring to myself as a writer going forward.

  7. My husband knew before I did. He had finished grad school and we were talking about what I was going to do, i.e., go to grad school, get another job, be a SAHM, etc. One day he said, "You know what you are? You're a writer. You should do that."

    (How lucky am I?)

  8. As a preteen in a new school, I'd console myself with 'fanficts' about a popular rock star. When I became friends with fellow fan, I used the stories to entertain them and soon the friendships deepened. Hence, I was rewarded for writing. I'm no longer writing 'fanficts', but I've never stopped creating stories that please me.

    Love the blog, by the way!

  9. I've been writing for a couple years, but no way would I ever call myself a writer. . . .

    But I kept plugging away, writing book after book. And then ... a couple weeks ago, after I signed with an agent, I finally said, "Okay, I'm a writer."

    Sure, I'm not published yet, but when people ask if I'm a writer, I finaly squeak out a quiet, "Yep."

  10. Writer at 25. AUTHOR at 44. Big Difference!

    Thanks for your blog which is usually entertaining and always helpful.

  11. I've WANTED to be a writer since I was eight. I knew I was one when I was twenty-two. That was the year I had a teacher in college who told me I was one. :)

    I'm not an author yet though. :[

  12. I've been writing stories since I was little but when teachers would say "you're going to be writer someday." I'd shake my head and say "No, I'm going to be a paleontologist" or "No, I'm going to be a rock star."
    It wasn't until I'd finished a first novel and began a second when I sat back and thought, "Hey, I'm a writer!"

  13. Great question. I also got derailed after six-year-old me was convinced she'd be an author --- except by journalism (and at one point, thoughts of a Poli-Sci minor... and a possible career in the greeting card industry).

    In my final semester of college, I took three creative writing courses, and that's when I first began to feel like a writer -- because I realized that my writing might actually be good enough to make it, and because I began learning about the industry. The moment for me was a gradual thing, mostly brought on by my involvement in the larger writing community.

    My degree? A bachelor's in Print Communications, and a day job as an Office Manager at a college newspaper --- which I love.

  14. Fourth grade. In my class, I had to write a paragraph about something or other, and then share it with the class. The class was supposed to evaluate it and grade it, but after I read what I had written, my teacher took it from my hands and gave me an "A" on the spot.

  15. It began when I was very young. When I had something important to say to my mom I'd leave a poem for her. Was writing short stories and middle grade fiction in the fifth grade and called myself a writer. But I had no confidence and never tried to publish.

    Became a freelace artist (illustration, tapestry weaving and artifact restoration)and followed that path for decades.
    Though I loved that work, I began thinking about what I loved most.
    The answer was writing. So I cut back on my artwork committments and am writing once again.I still haven't been published but I know I'm a writer.


  16. I must've known at least since I was seventeen, since I said so in my high school senior yearbook quote. Before that, I can't recall.

  17. When I had twins. Crazy as that sounds, being a stay-at-home mom gave me the time to write (yes, I am a nap Nazi). To become a writer. Now I do it to stay sane and to keep my brain working. My goal now...get published before the boys go to kindergarten (only 2years left!).

  18. I've thought of myself as a writer since I was eight, when I had my first Big Idea (that lasted all of a few weeks, until I got my second Big Idea). I took a sabbatical during college - to study math and economics, no less - but then another Big Idea dragged me out of retirement not long after I had my first baby and turned into a stay-at-home mom.

    As for those of you who write but don't think of yourselves as writers, you are. I'll say that again: You are:) So own it! And if you won't take my word for it, take Janet Reid's:

  19. I "became" a writer when I said it out loud to MY BOSS. (and hyperventilated afterward)

    I've been writing forever, but I never thought anything of it because writers are people like Stephen King and Janet Evanovich. Not ordinary people, right? Then I got online and found this whole writerly world and it rocked my foundation.

    I'd whisper about it to family, but when I told my boss, I knew I had crossed over. I still feel hesitant, because I have to follow up with "no, nothing published yet.", but that doesn't change the writer definition.

    Being published one day will change the definition to Author!

  20. Authoress, I had to laugh when I read your post. It sounded pretty familiar. I was a theatre major my first time around in college then, after taking off 15 years to raise a family, went back and took a whole slew of music and composition classes. It wasn't until about two years ago that I realized I'd been writing for enjoyment practically all my life and decided to try my hand at crafting a YA novel.

    Still don't know if I would call myself a WRITER, maybe a writer.

  21. I was like you. I wrote a lot of stories when I was young. I did major in English because I liked stories so much, but by that time I was only writing essays. Then I went into teaching. I started writing again once my son started reading. I want to write a story that he'd enjoy. So I'd better get a move on and finish it before he outgrows it.

  22. When I received what I perceived as a scathing rejection letter. On my birthday. I cried for an hour and then I got back to work, comforted knowing I was not deterred.

  23. My mom saved my best stories and drawings from preschool onward. Every once in a while I blow the dust off the box and read through the crumbling brown papers. I can still smell the crayons and pencil dust, feel the power and joy of writing those stories, and long for a nibble of the paste we used to stick our pictures down. Thanks, Mom!

    Although I've written fiction and professional marketing copy for about 15 years, I left the ranks of Wannabe-A-Real-Writer last year at a Voice workshop given by Patty Gauch, an editor I admire. I read a page I'd written and she cried, right there in front of 30 fellow writers.

    I'm an indie so far, and yet to be published by a "house", but that was the moment I knew I could stop fretting over the whole thing.

    All you wannabes: there is hope!

  24. I never called myself a writer until I had completed my first novel.

    Up until that moment, a writer was someone with a book on the shelf. That, or one of those skeezy guys in college towns who sit in cafes with empty leather notebooks, waiting for some starry-eyed chick to ask, "What are you writing?", so they can say, "My novel" and then proceed to invite her to a kegger.

  25. I wrote a post about this subject four months ago. It's funny, but even now I won't call myself a writer because I have a pile of rejections instead of publications. Here's the link:

  26. I was a story teller as soon as I began talking. I realized around 6-7, when I got a typewriter, that I could write my stories down and have been writing ever since.

  27. I've wanted to write since I was big enough to hold a pencil. In second grade, Mrs. Young handed out that paper that's blank at the top and lined at the bottom and instructed us to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up and then write a story about it.

    I drew a picture of myself dressed in a long, Crayola-blue gown, seated at a typewriter.

    Turns out I'm much more casual than that!

  28. I have been a writer as long as I can remember. I was always writing short stories in spiral notebooks and passing them around to my friends as early as elementary school. But, it was not something my parents encouraged. Which was strange because they were very supportive of me in all other areas. I kept writing in secret until about a year ago.

    I am still not published. Haven't even begun to query, but I am ready to admit (at least to those who love me) that I am a writer!

  29. I wrote my first book (a two-page stunner) when I was six. I even made a bound cover for it and everything! From then on, it was the only thing I wanted to do. Luckily, I was able to make a "paying" career out of it by becoming a technical writer and then going on to work in Publishing. While this is not the same as being a published novelist (still working on that), it has helped.

  30. December 12, 2009 I was at a book club meeting and we started talking about writing. I heard myself say, "As a writer myself..."
    Then thought OMG did I really just say that????

  31. As a teenager I was always thinking about writing but not actually writing. Then when I was 21 I wrote my first ms. I decided then that I wanted to be a writer but I spent the next few years stuffing around and not finishing anything.

    At the start of last year, I decided that I was going to get serious and I wrote a total of five ms in 2009. I still have a long way to come but I'm hopeful I'll succeed at some point.

  32. There is no line through which I crossed to becoming aware of being a writer. My imagination has always been fertile. I am also an artist so there is dimming between what I see in my head and what I see as an artist.
    The act of writing is separate to the act of creation of characters. I can sit on a bus and within five minutes I've studied most of those in front of me and they'd all have stories I would have assigned them.The way they dress, the way they walk, the way they act and their stance as they sit...
    I've always been good at writing. And my mother wrote her first stories when she was twelve - published so I've always taken it for granted that one day I'd do the same. I wasn't twelve. I was too busy wanting to be - yes I really did - an Opera Singer. (!!) I think I may have mistaken opera singer for musical theatre but that's mute...
    so my awareness of me as an author started back with making little books for my dolls, through my Gone With the Wind days.
    I'm a drama queen, always been a good actress, but too shy for the real stage - so the frustration actress in me started to put pen to paper and I loved it.
    My art combined with a natural skill for short stories eventually led me to writing for children and publication, following in the footsteps of my mother but in children's book publishing - contrary to popular belief that it's a cinch and that any old body can write a kid story - "when are you going to write a real story?" -
    (writing for children is more difficult than any other genre) - I followed a sentence that came to me one morning in the shower, and sat down and the sentence turned into more than 100,000 k. It was fun.
    Since then I've discovered I am good at O'Henry style stories. That I love writing them. I base that on my skill at children's stories.
    And I enjoy dabbling in historicals as well as modern. And that humour is a key element to my writing.
    I was a dreamy kid. I'm a dreamy adult who can ask a question and forget to listen to the answer. And there is but one short step from brain to finger to keyboard to plot and to dreams.


  33. i became a writer at the age of seven, when i was diagnosed with cancer.

  34. When I was living overseas, I used to write really long letters to family and friends and often dreamed about being a writer one day. Later, I found out that some people kept my letters because they made them laugh. My mother in-law used to constantly tell me to write a book, but I wasn’t educated enough. I left school at the age of thirteen to help look after my sick mum.

    I started working at the age of fifteen, married and had kids. Then three years ago at the age of fifty three, I bought a home computer and began learning how to write. I’m still learning, but I’ve written two MG novels and have submitted them to agents. I’m now working on the third, but I’m not there yet because I’m not published, but I hope to be one day.

  35. In 2004, already late in life, I decided to attempt to write song lyrics. Unfortunately, to do that well, you should be both a writer AND a musician. And I'm no musician.

    But some of my attempts at lyrics - still marked with notations like verse, chorus, and bridge - turned out to be workable as poems. Even good poems. Other people liked them. They got applause at open mike night.

    *I* even thought they were good.

    At that point, I started identifying as a poet - which, after all, is a subspecies of writer. So, in 2009, when I unexpectedly found myself beginning a YA novel, it was less of a shock.


  36. I don't really consider myself a writer (I know, I know my blog title: "Ramblings of a Writer" seems to suggest otherwise. But I mean this). Writing is my passion, and I don't think I could ever stop doing this because the entire process of creating a book is beautiful-crazy-painful and I love it. But calling myself a writer would seem to be saying, "This is my occupation. This is my job. This is for-certain-sure my calling." And I don't feel that way.

    I'm full of uncertainty as to whether I'll ever be "good enough" to be a writer, whatever the hell that means. So. I guess it's my personal definition of the word that prevents me from being a writer, because I really don't think just doing a lot of writing counts. I mean, I've done a lot of maths homework in my time. Didn't make me a mathematician, lol.

    The moment I thought I could possibly make it as a writer, though? When I was fifteen and queried my first (bad) book just to say I'd done it. And then I got my first rejection. AND IT WAS AMAZING. (Inspired by rejection, haha. Slightly odd.)

  37. Like drawing, it's just something that I've always done. As some of the other people I see here, I started off with "fanficts," working my character into whatever my mom happened to be reading to us - whether it was LOTR or Wind in the Willows. Eventually, I graduated to making up everything, not just the main character.

  38. Junior year of high school, my friends started writing a book. Then it became mostly the work of one friend in particular. Well, I caught the bug from her. She shook it, and I didn't. It started gradually, but turned into hundreds of words a day, MSs, research, and blogs. Looking back, I'm rather amazed. I didn't see it coming.

  39. High school is when I made it my dream to become a writer. My goal is to be published before I'm 40. Let's hope I get there.

    There's a YA/Middle Grade contest over at if anyone is interested.

  40. When did I become?

    I've always been a writer. I've done and published in some form or fashion poems, short stories, novels, newspaper features and editorials, legal briefs, memoranda and pleadings.

    Once when I was in Junior High, I wrote a short story in study hall. The teacher saw me writing and asked to read it. She passed it on to the music teacher who took one day and had me read it aloud to all of her classes. I later worked briefly for the music teacher's husband who was editor of a local paper.

    But I think I KNEW I'd always be writing after one particular High School assignment. Everyone had to write a paragraph that centered around the sentence: "She had tiny little feet." After I read mine aloud to a rowdy, raucous class full of boisterous fellow teenagers, there was a long moment of complete and absolute silence. Then the kid behind me piped up and asked, "Do I have to read mine after that?"

    I don't know if I'll ever again feel as happy, as satisfied in all of my writing career, in whatever form it takes, as I did in that one moment of silence.

  41. Though I have a self-published novel from a few years back and a novel that was nearly published this year, but wasn’t for budget reasons, I am still gearing up to do the query thing once again with my next project. But from the moment I finished my first long manuscript for a novel, I have considered myself a writer. One doesn’t need a special designation to call one’s self a writer. I just assume that if I die before I publish with a major house, join the ranks of the bestseller list, and have tea with J.K. Rowling, my manuscripts will all be sold and celebrated after my death. It could happen. And if it doesn’t, I’ll be dead, and probably it won’t bother me much either way. So I just assume that will happen. One less thing to worry about. Now onward to more pressing matters, such as finishing my new project!

  42. I've been writing for about 7 years and I think when I really knew I was a writer was this month. Since I started writing I knew there was plenty I had yet to learn and I still have a lot to learn. However, two years ago I was able to publish a short story.
    This past fall I barely wrote a paragraph of fiction, but I took my college papers very seriously and even though they were assignments I was thankful for them. I enjoyed writing no matter the subject.
    Then, this month I took a course at my college which was taught by an "ex-reporter" and I started to look deep into my writing. It didn't matter whether I was writing sports articles or memoirs or a fantasy adventure, I did my very best with all of them. I can't imagine not writing! I love it and it's a part of me no matter what. I'm a writer. :)

  43. I started when I was in 5th grade. Wrote a whole novel about a cat/dog. (which of course later got made into a successful children's comedy show without my permission because someone probably found my masterpiece in the trash after my mom threw it out)

    As I got older I stuffed the writer me deeper and deeper away from the other me's and for decades completely lost site of her until one day I contracted pneumonia. Somehow being sick stripped me raw, but the good news was I found that little writer person curled up in a dark corner.

    Yay! Little writer person has forgiven the neglect and we're becoming fast friends. (I'm trying not to ignore her even when life gets in the way)

  44. I wrote my first short story in 4th grade and thought it was a lot of fun. I started writing a lot after that, never really finding my voice and kind of imitating others.

    When I was in 6th grade, we wrote plays, and the teacher said the best one would be put on stage. She chose mine. At the end of the play, I was announced as the author and stepped in front of the crowd to applause. Granted, the play was hokey and parents clap for their kids no matter what, but I loved it so much, I decided right then and there on the stage that I wanted to be a writer.

    Sort of odd, considering the circumstances. One would think I'd end up as a playwright after that. But nope, I wanted to write books. Finished my first two books when I was in high school.

    Obviously they need work, haha. But I've been writing ever since.

  45. I've had an adversarial relationship with writing nearly my whole life. When I was in 4th grade I squarely declared to anyone who would listen that I hated to write. Hated it. Why? Looking back (ah, the blessings of hindsight) I think that my experience of the world--both internal and external--was so textured and complex, and my ability to translate that onto the page so...4th grade. I have a box with journals I started at various phases of adolescence, with the intention of keeping careful track of my life. And every one of those journals peters out after the first several beautiful pages. There was angst there, and I didn’t know what to do with it.

    Writing is messy: it shows me things about myself and the world that sometimes I would rather not see. Lots of the time. I can’t carefully manage my world as I learned I needed to do growing up. There were scaryamazing things inside of me that I learned to be afraid of, not to accept, or to cultivate. Better to shut the door, turn the music up louder and not pick up a pen. But now I’m learning a different way.

    Perhaps my journey isn't so much about becoming a writer, as becoming a more authentic version of myself. Writing is something I do to work out my understanding of the world, to bring order out of chaos, and because I get to feeling like a pressure cooker over high heat inside when I don't. And because at times people tell me that I help them put words to things they lack words for. I can't but help believe that if my writing helps bring contours and shape to someone’s reality, it’s a good thing.

    It's important for me to distinguish between what I do, and who I am. Writing is a precious, valuable opportunity to tell my truth, to dwell in possibility, to fill my unique niche in the world. It is a means of expression, but not my mode of being. But it is a means of expression that, as I practice it more and more, becomes woven into the fabric of how I experience the world, and how it experiences me.

    If I AM a writer--holding this as the ultimate statement of my being--then when a critic has a bad day, or when I am not performing at my best, the core of my very being hangs in the balance. I've walked that road with other things--including a stint in teaching--and offering my very self for others judgment and critique is not the way to live. I have a choice of whether or not to do that, I have realized. And I am learning to choose not to give another that kind of power. I don’t want to live in pursuit of someone else’s validation, of letting someone else name me. Nor do I want to live in reaction to prove to someone else what I am or not. That is not the way of freedom. Although I'm not free yet, I don’t hate writing anymore. I’m writing. It's all intertwined, and it’s good journey.