I have loved to read for as long as I can remember. One of my fondest memories of my childhood is sitting with my dad as he read me stories to keep me entertained while my mom made dinner or did some other household chores. And then there was the bedtime story … another firm favourite.
When I was old enough, I started reading by myself. I would spend hours reading. I absolutely adored The Famous Five, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, The Secret Seven, and many others. My cousin and I would spend school holidays reading up a storm. We’d go down to the local library and max out our library cards (6 books each if I remember correctly). Then we’d go home and read; and when we finished our own, we’d swop and read the other one’s 6. Good memories. 😊
It was only when I hit my teens and discovered “Mills & Swoon” that the bug bit. I was in awe of the authors who had created these stories using nothing more than imagination … well that’s what I thought at the time. It would be many more years before I realised how much more there was to writing a book. So, one miserable winter’s day during the school holidays my cousin and I sat down to pen our first “best seller”. Sadly, we never did finish. School, boys and life in general got in the way and our masterpiece was shelved. Packing to move recently I found our 3/4 finished manuscript and had a read through. To say I cried with laughter will give you a fairly accurate idea of just how really bad it is but, hey, we thought it was fabulous at the time.
As I said though, life got in the way of writing that fabulous book that was going to launch us to stardom. Not long after finishing school I met the man of my dreams and got married young. Barely married, we discovered we were expecting … a honeymoon baby. Nothing like a baby to railroad any plans for one’s immediate future. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my son. He is the light of my life. But let’s be honest, having a little one in the house is time and energy consuming.
Fast-forward 25 years.
My dear friend had been harbouring a secret desire to write and it came out in conversation one day that she’d confessed this dream to her husband. Being the wonderfully supportive man that he is, he encouraged her to go for it. To start out slowly with a blog and build up from there. By the time she got up the nerve to tell me what she’d done, she had started said blog and was nearly finished the first draft of her novel. So, during this conversation I, of course, confessed that I’d co-authored a manuscript at 15 but that was as far as it had gotten. “Girlfriend, go for it if that’s your dream!”, she exclaimed. Now, I must just point out that my friend is that friend – the one that will tell you how it is – not how you want to hear it. And I have to tell you, it’s one of the many things that I love about her; but I digress.
I went home and mulled it over for a while – I’m like that. I have to process and research everything … to death before jumping. And I decided she was right! If I didn’t do it for myself, no one else was going to do it for me. Besides, I had nothing to lose. So I sat myself down in front of the pc and surfed the net for days. Did I mention that I have to process and research everything … to death before I do anything? 😀 After a couple of weeks of research, I felt I was ready to take the first step. I finally scraped my courage together and wrote my first short story. It felt good to be writing, even though I am still shaky (at best) about what I’m doing. But flexing that writing muscle showed me that the ideas can come. I have, since written two subsequent short stories and started this blog. I’m currently working on my debut book.
It’s all very exciting, but I must confess, very nerve-wracking. There are days when I sit in front of the pc and … nothing. It is those days that I wonder if I’ve lost my ever-loving mind. Especially when I realise just how much I still have to learn about this new craft. Ultimately though, when I get together with fellow writers all battling the same demons and feel that feeling of “rightness” doing what brings me joy I know that I’m on the right track.
It has not been an easy journey down this writing road for me, but it has definitely been worth it. I still have so much to learn – I am but a mere fledgling in the writing world. But I am blessed with someone to share this journey with, an amazing husband who encourages me every step of the way, and the most fabulous group of fellow authors that I can turn to when I need help or advice. I am a proud member of Romance Writers’ Organisation of South Africa and am truly grateful for the time these super busy ladies take out of their day to answer the questions of a newbie, offer advice or point me in the right direction.
Ladies, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for everything as I journey down this road to writing. I look forward to many happy years of writing ahead of me.
Some helpful resources that have been invaluable to me:
Hallie Ephron – The Everything Guide to Writing Your First Novel
The Creative Penn – 20 Tips for Writing Lovable Romance Novel Heroes
Kate Walker – Kate Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance
Leigh Michaels – On Writing Romance: How to Craft a Novel That Sells
These are just a few of the sites I visited to get me going on my road to writing. If this post has inspired you to start your own journey down the writing road I’m sure they’ll be of some help but in the end, it’s all up to you. These just give you an idea of what others have found works for them. Ultimately, you need to find your own rhythm and style, just like I’m doing. Best of luck!