I have always dreamed of being a writer. I know that’s a cliché line. Probably everyone here has dreamed of becoming a writer so they could someday see their work in print.
I guess the difference is that during the end of my teenage years, I abandoned my dream. I saw it as a necessary tragedy, an end to years as a child who dreamed of having my book in print and on the shelf at the store.
As a child I suppose I was naïve. I believed that I could be a writer because so many had done it before. I had encouragement from other adults, teachers and peers that I should write.
At age 5, I wrote a poem about horses. The poem was written in the middle of a sheet of copy paper, framed off by a pencil line. Outside of the framed poem, I had drawn apple trees with horses underneath them. This was the beginning of my aspiration to write, as well as draw.
When I was 13, I wrote and illustrated a story about a Native American girl who stood up to her Colonial oppressors and traveled the nation to speak out about her culture and protecting their lands. She was bullied, threatened and ignored. Yet she was braver than I could ever be. My seventh grade teacher had faith in me though. She sent my story down state for the Young Author’s Award.
At age 16, I wrote a poem about Marilyn Monroe and got it published in the local advertising paper. I have never been prouder of myself, and for a kid like me, it was hard. I was naturally introverted, an inward observer and thinker. I did not like socializing with people and writing was my only escape from being ostracized and bullied. I was a child from a divorced family, a child wounded from parental abuse. I was a child that often questioned a faith that did not fit me. Writing and reading (and art) were my sanctuaries.
I was always writing, filling diaries with my daily thoughts and struggles, and filling blank books with stories about female pirates, Christian girls who wanted to protect their families, and women in the Regency area that struggled to be independent in a patriarchal system. I wrote sci-fi stories about unknown worlds further expanding my creative escape.
Before my first semester of college I worked on the longest story ever, writing by hand because I could write anywhere (this was 1999, things weren’t entirely mobile at this point), and when I was finished, I used my new student ID to get into the college library so I could use the computer. I could type and write to my heart’s content, without any distractions. I wrote this story to enter a Science Fiction contest, and I was proud of how much I had accomplished. It was the longest story I’d ever written – 20,000 words! When I finished the manuscript and saved it on my floppy disk, I was ready to take it home.
Then, storm warnings went off and everyone in the library as well as the college were shuffled down to the basement. A twister was spotted in a field not too far from the college and everyone had to take safe cover in the basement.
Minutes went by and when we were cleared, I headed outside to the parking lot under a green sky, got into my car and headed home. My parents were frantic with worry. I was scolded and shouted at for being irresponsible, and I was sure I had told them I was going to the college to type my story. In a moment of their frantic worry, I felt like my story didn’t matter. I felt like I was being denied the glory of finishing my story because the storm had fueled them with worry. My accomplishment was nothing.
It wasn’t long before my focus on my writing would go dim. When I’d received acceptance into a college that focused on playwriting, something I dreamed of pursuing, I couldn’t wait to tell my mom. I wanted to become a playwright and work in Hollywood or Broadway! I wanted to write the next big TV show, or even a movie. The college was out of state, sure, but I’d been accepted, so that didn’t matter right?
It really didn’t. What mattered was the major itself. If I pursued this major it would mean that I would not go into the art field. I would not learn about design or art or even art education. My mother did not want me to give up on my art talent.
To me, it did not seem like my writing was as important as my art talent to everyone else. I was discouraged again. I left writing; I left my dream, and I enrolled in another school and declared another major: Illustration.
I can’t tell you how much this one moment in my life still stings me today. I felt like I was pressured to become an artist – to mold and shape that talent, and though I love art and design and did well in school for it, I never felt complete.
I suppose I gave up. I gave up the little girl who wrote stories and illustrated them. I gave up the dream to have a book on the shelves or write a play on Broadway.
I did not give up writing for long. Somehow, such a thing always comes back to people who have it singing in their blood, bones and brain.
I found another outlet, away from discouraging peers or family, away from my anxiety and stress to be the perfect artist… I found fanfiction.
A lot of successful authors have terrible and nasty opinions about fanfiction. They don’t think it’s real writing. They don’t believe it’s beneficial to borrow other people’s characters and make other worlds out of them.
At the time, I didn’t care about that, and I’m glad it didn’t. Fanfiction changed me. I saw all these people coming together for something they loved and putting their own spin on things. I wanted to be included. I wanted to share my thoughts. I wanted to interact with these communities.
In 2001 while I was at college, I did. I joined a few anime fandoms and began writing stories, joining online clubs and meeting other writers. There was drama, of course, but there was also a great sense of community with critiquing and encouragement.
It was about this time I dropped my Art History minor and pursued an English Minor. I met my husband in an English writing class, and my writing began to improve with each fanfiction I wrote. I gained my confidence as a writer back; even if I was just getting encouragement from people on the net, it still meant something to me. It meant a lot to get that attention and to give it back, thus forming relationships with people. People come and go, but some have stayed, and I cherish all those relationships and experiences.
Around 2011, a fandom friend suggested self-publishing. I had seen fanfiction writers self-publish with vanity publishers and such, and I just found it way too expensive. However, I came to learn that Amazon was making it much easier for people to publish things on their own.
The idea wouldn’t leave me alone. I could finally publish something entirely mine! Someone might read it! I could share my story with others!
The little girl who used to dream about being a writer returned!
The rest is history. Last May I self-published my first original novel. I still write fanfiction to escape, but I’ve become a lot more focused on my own self-pub writing career. It’s still new, and I’m still learning, but I won’t give up this time.
I won’t let people discourage me.
I know I will always be writing. I owe a lot of my writing resurgence to fanfiction, and I am not ashamed of that. I guess the lesson is…whatever inspires you to write and improve as a writer, don’t ignore it. Take that chance. Find others who share your passion and express yourself. Don’t let people tell you not to write. Don’t let people’s opinion hold you back.
Has anyone or anything tried to discourage you from pursuing your writing dreams? Has your writing future ever seemed bleak and doomed so much you wanted to give up? What helped you overcome it as a writer?