Over the last few weeks, I’ve come to realize how much I’ve changed since I started this blog. I actually plan to come back and post here at least once or twice a week now and update my progress, so you get a better idea what I’m about. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s a good step. Just for kicks, here’s a timeline of my writing journey thus far:
1. I thought I might like to be a writer. It had always sounded interesting, and I knew I enjoyed writing when I did it. But there was a lot of fear involved, mostly due to some bad experiences in the past.
2. I started telling a few people I wanted to be a writer. At the time, I was editing a church newsletter and I had also kept a blog for several years before, so it wasn’t much of a step (or, other people didn’t think so).
3. I started writing. Strangely enough, I was an award-winning screenwriter in college and had my poetry published in several anthologies. But it had been 10 years since I had put pen to paper to do any sort of creative writing. I started with a terrible novel during NaNoWriMo in 2009. I wrote the full 50,000 word novel that November. But then I stopped.
4. I joined Script Frenzy in April 2010. That’s about the time I started here. I was getting a little more serious about considering myself to be a writer, but not because I actually wrote much. When I did do one of the OLL contests, I felt like a superstar though, although I never let anyone read anything.
5. I started attending meetings of my local writer’s guild in September 2010. I wrote another 50,000 word novel in November that year. It was during one of the write-ins that I mentioned a book (Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way) to my fellow writers and discovered they all had a copy hidden away. The rest is history.
6. I founded an Artist Way group in January 2011, and facilitated weekly meetings. At one point, there were 8 people attending. By the time the twelve week course was completed, there were 5 of us. We started as a ragtag group of broken people, and bloomed into a tribe of accepting and encouraging creatives. We still meet even though it’s been over a year since we finished the book.
7. One of the other members of the group was interested in screenwriting, and we committed to writing together. We brainstormed, researched, plotted, planned, and wrote feature-length scripts during the spring.
8. Thanks to the group and the writers guild, I was asked to give a screenwriting workshop in March 2011. It was a huge success, and people still talk to me about it sometimes.
9. Around April or May of 2011, I discovered flash fiction. I started hitting the point that I really wanted to improve my skills as a writer and storyteller, and I learned about five minute prompts. I started doing the prompts with my Artist Way group, and we would read them aloud to each other. This was incredibly frightening at first, and incredibly freeing after a while.
10. During the summer of 2011, I wrote a few 55-word pieces of flash and entered them in online contests. I tied for 3rd place and won $30 for one of them. That fall, I was asked to give a flash fiction workshop for the guild. It was frightening, but wonderful, and hearing everyone’s stories was a huge encouragement to me.
11. In August 2011, I wrote a real story. It was an idea I had been toying with for a while. I wrote it from start to finish in my notebook. I loved it so much, I let my Artist Way group read it. Then I let my husband read it. It was the first time I’d let him see my writing. He was impressed and hugely encouraging. I started pulling out that story whenever anyone expressed an interest in my writing.
12. In October 2011, I submitted that story, in proper manuscript format, to a call for submissions. This was a big step for me. The story was rejected, without so much as a comment, so I put it away for a while.
13. I wrote another story, and submitted it for a different contest. Again, rejection.
14. The new year came. WIP500 happened. The Writers Accountability group started on Google+. The commitment to write 500 words every day meant that all those stories and characters and ideas stuck in my brain started coming out.
15. In February, one of my Artist Way friends sent me a link to a story call and said my first story would work well for it. I was scared, but decided to submit. It was rejected, but with a personal note to send more stories.
16. I’ve since earned 8 rejections on that story, each one more positive than the last. I’m starting to understand that the rejections are not personal and are all about timing and theme and what fits with what.
17. Sometime during August of this year, I started feeling a strange angsty feeling about my writing that I hadn’t felt before. I want readers. I don’t want my work to be hidden anymore. I want to find the people who will enjoy my writing. It’s a strange feeling for me, considering I’ve hidden my creativity away for so long. This is when I realized I was growing up as a writer.
18. In the past seven days, I’ve submitted two new stories to calls. I now have a total of four stories floating around out there, waiting to find homes. This is work that I’m proud of, and want to share. This is work I will continue to shop out, even if it gets rejected again. This is work I may self-publish in the future. This is work that I send to my husband and my friends and my brother and proudly say, “Read my new story! What do you think?” and then change things that they find confusing. Because I don’t mind good criticism anymore.
It’s pretty great, actually. I’ve gone from wanting to write, to actually writing, to letting my creations out into the wild. I still need more courage to tackle the editing on the three novels I’ve written and the fourth one that I’m currently working on. I feel like my devotion to flash fiction and short stories is like a series of baby steps to longer fiction. And maybe, in another few years, I’ll be even further along than I am right now.
I mostly put this here to remind myself, but if you read all of this, thank you for being one of the friends who has encouraged me along the way. I hope to report good things to you all in the future! Who knows, maybe one of those stories will find a home soon.