Sunday, March 13, 2011

What Started as a Challenge

I know I said I was going to post the first chapter of the book and I promise I will, but I wanted to tell you about how I got started writing in the first place. I never dreamed of being a writer when I was younger. A love of writing was something that came later for me, but when I turned eleven and read Return to Red Castle by Dorothy Keddington for the first time, (definitely not the last), I was hooked on reading.

I had always been a reader even before that, but reading that book was my first taste of reading for pure pleasure. The interesting thing is I wasn't even suppose to read it. It's a romance that my older sisters had read and overheard them while they were discussing with my mom. When I asked them about it they all immediately said I was too young to read it and that I probably wouldn't even enjoy it or understand it for that matter.

And right there is what got me to read sister's telling me I wouldn't be able to do it. If there is one thing I hate it's when someone tells me when I am or am not capable of doing something. So of course I took the book hostage and hid in my room until I had finished reading it. I was hooked on pleasure reading at that point and I don't think I have gone more than a few weeks without reading a book.

I love books. I have so many favorite books at this point that I can't pick just one. I would have to say that my favorite book is usually the one I am reading at the time. When I get a really good book I like to dive into it like I'm diving underwater and I don't like to come up until I'm finished. This usually means really late nights which of course leads to really late mornings. This is something that has to be carefully managed as a mother of four children because without enough sleep I tend to be a "little" grumpy ;)

So now that you know my obsessive reading habits I should probably move onto the subject of this post. About three and a half years ago I was given a book for Christmas from my dear husband and like usual I got my kids settled in with their new Christmas toys and I started reading.

This book was one I had heard so many good reviews on so I was excited, if not a bit giddy to get started in on. I read all of Christmas day and late into the next morning before I finished. (Don't worry my husband kept the children alive.) After finishing I would have to say I was a little disappointed. After everything I had heard about it I was sad that it hadn't met with my expectations.

Now this is where the challenge comes into play. If I've not mentioned before now minus my dad my whole family loves to read, but more than that we love to analyze what we've read. We all love to read the same book and than spend hours discussing it with one another. I had already discussed the book I had gotten for Christmas with one of my sisters, who unlike myself, absolutely loved it. Not getting the support I'd hoped for on my disappointment of the book I decided to move my discussion onto my younger brother who had recently finished reading the book as well.

He agreed with my reasons for not liking the book, but got quiet when I mentioned that anyone with a word processor could have written a better one. I quickly noticed how quiet he had become after this comment and I asked him why. I could almost hear the wheels in his brain clicking away and I knew what he was going to say before he even said it.

(But you probably don't so I guess I better tell you.)

He said, "If you think you can do a better job then why don't you do it? Go write a book with better characters and a more satisfying ending."

So that's exactly what I did. I got off the phone and started thinking up good book ideas. I spent a good couple of hours honing in on my idea and then I started writing. It only took about an hour to get the first chapter. I was so excited I took it down to my parents house to show my mom. She read it quietly and then said, "I think you've got a promising idea."

I have to tell you I was a bit let down by that comment because a "promising idea" was not what I had expected to hear. I had the first chapter already finished and ready for print in my mind. This book was already on the verge of becoming a masterpiece! I could already see people lining up all over the world to have a chance to buy it and the greatest part of all was I had a fantastic time writing it.

Feeling this way I of course ignored my mom's comment and continue on to the next couple of chapters. I spent hours writing for several days. When I finally finished my seventh chapter I had my brother and one of my sisters read it and tell me what they thought. I was prepared for a few helpful criticisms, but over all I was expecting them to be thrilled. Not only did I believe it was almost ready for publication I was feeling pretty smug that in a little under a week I had been able to writing the start of a promising work of fiction. I was a literary genius.

At the end of that evening I had discovered that I actually was a literary genius and for those of you who know me well enough you know exactly what I believe a "genius" is. If you don't know what I am referring too feel free to leave a comment and ask me, but keep in mind my answer is about as far from politically correct as a person can possible get.

The one thing I can say about my brother and sister is they love me and because they love me they would never have allowed me to make a complete and utter fool of myself by letting anyone else read the ridiculous jumble of words I just allowed them read. They both told me their opinion as gently as possible without leaving me any hope to believe for a moment that my "masterpiece" was ready to be read by anyone else. They left that night with me sitting shell shocked on my living room couch.

And that was it. That was the moment that I discovered that writing a novel was really hard. (Yes if you haven't already started go ahead and laugh, but I really didn't think there was going to be much to it.)

I received a new respect for the art of writing that night, but I also received a new respect for myself. I knew that I was up to the challenge my brother had set before me and I knew that I really wanted to meet that challenge head on. So for the next nine months I allowed myself to get sucked into the world of writing. I spend at least eight hours a day writing and then rewriting. It was like a drug. I thought about my book all the time. I was hooked on writing.

So what had initially started out as a challenge ended up becoming a passion.

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