Thursday, January 7, 2010

In Which I Become A Writer



I'm often amazed at people who state they always wanted to be a writer - like they popped out of the womb with a pencil in hand and a story to tell.

That's not how it happened with me.

I didn't want to be a writer. I remember Twin reading Dear Mr. Henshaw in elementary school (I think she read it multiple times) and I always thought it was kind of dumb. A kid who wants to be a writer and so he becomes pen pals with an author? Boooooring.

No, not for me. I wanted to be a veterinarian.

And when I was even younger I wanted to be a veterinarian and a singer. Of course my parents then teased me, asking me if I would sing to the sick animals which, naturally, drove me crazy.

Now when I think about it, that's actually kind of a clever idea. It would be awesome if there was such a job, where all you had to do was sing to the sick (animals or people) and they would be healed. Though stuff like that has pretty much been done to death

But then I hit high school and the aforementioned fan-fiction. When I did NaNoWriMo for the first time in 2009 I noticed that on the website and in the book they constantly talk about how, when you've become a winner, it could possibly the most you've ever written! Well, barring the fact that my previous WIP was stalled at over 70K word, I spent high school writing elaborate fan-fiction stories with my friends, the longest one over 40K, though there were at least three others that capped in the 30K range. So you can see I spent much of high school writing a lot of fan-fiction. Word count was not an issue for me.

Fan-fiction was fun. Of course, the majority of it was that it allowed you to fantasize about fun and exciting things with your best friends who were also involved in the fan-fiction. But the writing was fun too. I began my very first writing notebook where I stored ideas for fan-fiction and other stories - my Puppy in the Pot Book.


so named because of this picture on the cover



Also, I began to do very well in English class. I mean, I guess I had always done well in English, I never got bad grades in anything, but in high-school I began to enjoy doing well in English. I still loved science (especially biology), but a few great English teachers began to steer me away.

When Twin and I went to our orientation for the University of MN, one of the first things they ask is what you want to major in, so they know where to send you during the orientation. I was all prepared to say "pre-vet" like Twin, but instead what came out of my mouth was "English".

It was then that it was finalized, well at least the English degree idea. I still didn't have any plans of wanting to be a "real" writer. My original idea was to become a high school English teacher (something I still kind of wish I had followed through on).

But then, around my sophomore or junior year, I realized with an English major I could have an emphasis in creative writing, and well, that was it. My senior project wasn't a big paper on an author, instead it was a lengthy short story. All my electives were fiction classes and solidified my desire to be a writer.

So there you have it. Had you asked me when I was eight if I wanted to be a writer, I would have laughed in your face (Twin would have helped). If asked when I was 18, I might have hesitated and then said no. But here, when I'm approaching 29 (omg 30 is on the horizon...), well I've been saying it for almost a decade. It's kind of a weird little path I wandered.

14 comments:

Stark Raving Zen said...

Very interesting! So, is Twin a vet now? And what do you do for a paycheck, Sarah? I mean, right now. Because it's clear that someday you'll be rolling in the writing dough...

Stark Raving Zen said...

BTW, I have your blog in my blog roll, but for some insane reason it will NOT manifest as a link...?! What the hell? I'll keep trying.

Terri Tiffany said...

Great story! I love hearing how others decided to write.

Teebore said...

Great story! How have we been in a writing group together all these years and never talked about this stuff? I never knew you came as (relatively) late to the writing game as I did (or that you wanted to be a vet).

Growing up, I wanted to be, first, He-Man, then an archaeologist (because I liked impressing adults with my ability to say the word) then a doctor, then a lawyer (those last two made my mom the happiest).

I didn't do much writing as a kid, but I did craft elaborate narratives in my head when I played with my Transformers and GI Joes (I created a story for everything I played with, including Hot Wheels) and I credit those "stories" as the seed of my love for writing.

I was always good at writing for my age, in an academic I-get-good-grades-in-English kinda way, and a poem I wrote won a local contest in 4th grade and I got to go to a conference at a local college and meet an author. That's the event I retroactively acknowledge as the first time I thought of writing as something more than what you do in school, but it would be a few years before I began truly writing for fun.

I did lots of writing in high school (which is when I started my first novel) and picked colleges, in part, based on their English departments, but it wasn't until halfway through college (when I had to pick a major once and for all) that I decided to go for it and try to be an author, and not a teacher or theatrical technician or something else at the same time as being a writer.

It hasn't quite worked out as I'd like (I share your regrets about teaching) but we're young, right?

Sorry, I'll stop hijacking your blog with MY story now. :)

Falen said...

Zen - Alas she is not a vet, but she works at the shelter. She ended up with an Equine Industries Management degree. And i don't know what's up with your linkage problems (maybe my blog is cursed...?)

Teebore - i did not know that you waited until halfway through college to decide on writing. Were you taking some creative writing electives before then? I was shoving them in when i was a freshmen

Falen said...

Terri - i do too. It's one of the reasons i habitually read people's bios. Even when i've read them before

Anonymous said...

But i am interim queen of the shelter- that counts for something, right?
-Twin

Falen said...

yes. yes it does.

Teebore said...

Yeah, I took an English and/or writing class (as well as a German class) every semester of college (which is how I ended up getting Writing and German minors to go with my English degree).

I had always wrote, and had always planned on trying to get published, since high school. It was just when it came time to declare my major that I decided getting published and writing as a career was going to be my main goal, as opposed to becoming a teacher or something else and just writing on the side.

Basically, I thought about how I was writing at the time (in free moments when I wasn't in school) and decided I had too many ideas to write that way, that I didn't want to spend the rest of my life writing that way, only when I had time apart from my full time, "real" focus.

So I decided I was going to try and pursue a life where writing would become my full time focus.

Jokes on me, huh? ;)

Sharon Mayhew said...

At 8 I wanted to be a nun. :) At 14 I discovered boys. LOL In high school I wanted to be a reporter. I was involved in drama and speech. Did some MCing, put on some presentations in our community and enrolled in college as a radio/tv major. I discovered after 9 months as a radio dj, that I didn't have the right back scratching techniques for the industry. So I became a teacher. I loved teaching reading and writing. After spending 17 years teaching I decided I wanted to write...I am begining year number four as a writer. A friend of mine, wo has numerous books said...give it five years, if it is still all rejections think about doing something else. :) She has cheered me on, celebrated my personal rejections with me and congratulated me on my first magazine publication. One day, I hope to be signing one of my books for her. :) Happy writing everyone!

Falen said...

teebore - you have a minor in German? WTH - i never knew that

Zen - sorry, i forgot your first question - i work for a very large (aka, the largest) healthcare company as some sort of quality analyst. My job has no title and is impossible to explain to people. It's a lot of reports using excel.

Sharon - we have a church down the street that houses actual nuns - every time we see them outside, or at the dollar store or anywhere we're filled with glee since you just don't see nuns anymore

Stark Raving Zen said...

Better that, than a vet, Twin! Very few are happy after ten years. Burn-out higher than in any other field. You made the right choice... Take it from someone who very nearly went insane after 20 years in vet med.

Stark Raving Zen said...

Oh! And the blog link is functional now. Must have been a temporary bug.

Falen said...

Yay for fixed link!

There's way too much chemistry involved in being a vet. They never tell you that as a kid

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