Friday, August 3, 2012
The Writing Life -- Mine
My first adventure into writing fiction was part of a third-grade assignment to write my autobiography. For crying out loud, I was eight. I hadn't had a life to write about, so I made one up. It was pretty good, as I remember. I also remember two other things about that assignment: my first and only F, and my mother saying that if I was going to lie, I should consider being a novelist.
In college, I wrote my first novel. On my trusty Underwood upright, no less. I wrote a science fantasy novel. Yes, on a manual typewriter. I couldn't afford the latest IBM Selectric, so it was manual or handwritten. I was enthralled by Ray Bradbury and a guy I was dating. It seemed so easy to write science fantasy. All you had to do was let your imagination go. I did. I spent a summer after sophomore year pounding away on the keyboard, piling up a huge stack of pages. I reached "The End" and pronounced I had written a novel.
My mother asked to read it. She actually finished it. She never said it was dreadful, but she suggested I continue with my education. Mind you, I wasn't in a creative writing program. I read the story. I cannot describe how dreadful it was. I mean, redefined dumb. Redefined purple prose. Redefined "don't quit your day job." I fed every page into the fireplace.
In grad school, I decided I had more to say so I started writing poetry. Pure, unadulterated doggerel. I really hated reading poetry. What made me think I could write something I didn't like reading? At least with the science fantasy, I read and loved Bradbury.
I piddled around with writing off and on for years. I wrote several novels, all of which are gathering cyber dust. I ground out pages, pages and more pages. I was hooked. I didn't know what I didn't know about writing. I knew I was possessed to write.
And then I bought a book called My Time: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life by Abigail Trafford. Her book changed my outlook on life. Seriously.
To know what she wrote that was so profound and why it hit me will have to wait until the next post.