Are you the writer you thought you'd be?


I always knew I wanted to be a writer. Even from the time I was a kid. But I spent many years in a bohemian daze, surrounded by great books by Martin Amis, John Irving, James Baldwin, Tobias Wolf and many others.

I wanted to be in that company. You know, the literati. I wrote several short stories, never a novel. I submitted dutifully to the quarterly journals: The Paris Review, etc. Even got a few hand-written rejections.

But somewhere in there I dedicated a lot of time to my career. And writing, while once My Big Dream, took a back seat to getting married, buying a place, moving to Chicago...all the grown-up stuff. It was only a few years ago that I decided that I should write what I loved as a kid: books about adventures and fantastical worlds. And that's when something hit me: I had found my voice.

I was surprised that it took me that long to figure it out. I loved fantasy and sci-fi as a kid, but stopped reading a lot of those genres as an adult. Once I rediscovered it--it was the proverbial lightbulb over the head.

What about you? Did you know the path your fiction would take--or did it completely surprise you and turn into something else entirely?

The picture, by the way, has nothing to do with anything. It's from Wikimedia Commons and was free so I decided to use it to give this post some visual interest. The caption reads...wait for it: in the future, the evolution make all women beautiful. By small jaws and beautiful voices.

That should give you something to think about.

9 comments:

Rebecca said...

My writing took me by surprise. I always wrote poetry, but stories started coming to me after I had children.

Tabitha said...

This whole reading and writing thing in general took me by surprise. I wasn't a huge reader as a young kid because I didn't really have access to books. But then I read The Hobbit, and that changed everything. I turned into a voracious reader, seeking out books however I could. But never considered writing because I thought it would be WAY too difficult. I was convinced I didn't have those skills, and I'd have to be content to read.

Then my high school English teacher assigned our class to write a poem. Well, that terrified me because I'd already convinced myself that was something I couldn't do. But when I sat down to do the assignment, I was shocked and amazed to find I was wrong. I loved writing! But I still couldn't write stories. I tried a few short stories and they failed miserably. A novel was way too daunting, and I convinced myself I didn't have those skills (sound familiar?).

So, I wrote poetry for myself for many years, through college, post college, after I got married, etc. I thought this was just going to be my life. And then I read Harry Potter...

I had the exact same *a-ha* moment you did. I couldn't believe it had taken me so long to remember all those books I loved to read as a kid. I still love them. So, I learned how to write a novel, spent years improving my craft, and am loving every minute of it. I'm here for the long haul. :)

Ron Smith said...

Thanks so much for dropping by guys!

Rebecca, I wonder why the longer idea of novels came after you had kids. Maybe there is something in there...

Tabitha, thanks for sharing that in-depth post. I'm glad your English teacher made you write poetry! I have an English teacher I have a fond memory of, too.

I miss Chicago and Prairie Writers Day :(

Tabitha said...

We miss you, too. :) Maybe you can come back for a visit?

Medeia Sharif said...

I wrote my first novel when I was seventeen, and my early writing was very different than what I write today. I went from writing dark, gritty stuff to light, funny stuff--that was the surprise.

Ron Smith said...

Thanks for coming by Medeia! That's really interesting, the path your fiction took. I think we are all influenced by what is going on in our lives when we write, even if it's subconscious.

Abby Minard said...

I didn't get serious about writing until a couple years ago. I also did the college, married and had a kid thing, but I always knew if I was going to write it'd be YA fantasy. That is all I read when I was younger, and basically all I read now. With an exception of a contemporary, or paranormal YA here and there. But I was always sure in the genre I'd write.

Ron Smith said...

Thanks for coming by, Abby. Seems like you knew what you wanted to do all along. That's great. It's funny how much YA I read now. A few times a year I'll read literary fiction, but they usually have a supernatural bent. The Magicians, by Lev Grossman for example.

Kelly said...

I also first wrote poetry, but then picture books and now middle grade. Also, I never dreamed I'd be a writer. I loved to write poetry all my life, but never seriously considered to try and get published until about five years ago. Better late than never!