“I’ve wanted to be a writer since I could hold a pencil.” It’s a statement you see often in interviews with writers. It’s a statement that always leaves me feeling a little “less than” because I came to writing later— in my late fifties to be exact. Oh, I did some essay writing in school and I was the editor of my high school newspaper but I never felt that I had enough words to write anything approaching a novel.
Somewhere around 2009, a new shop opened in the little town I lived in at the time—a book store for writers. The owner was a writer and a teacher of writing and she began offering classes. I think the first class I took was something called The Hesitant Writer. It was an interesting group and we did creative writing exercises for an hour once a week. I was amazed at how much fun I had doing this. I signed up for another class, then for an online class on novel writing which was my first experience with people I didn’t know reading and commenting on my work. It was a little scary but I found it was not as painful as I expected.
By this time I was immersed in the experience and I was loving it. Someone at the Writer’s Workshoppe told me about an event that took place each year in November. It was called National Novel Writing Month—NaNoWriMo for short. Thousands of people signed up and committed to writing 50,000 words in the month of November. I remember thinking, I’ll never in a million years be able to come up with 50,000 words. But, it sounded challenging and fun. The founder of the event was a guy by the name of Chris Baty and he’d written a book called No Plot? No Problem! The whole atmosphere of NaNoWriMo was crazy, irreverent and laid back. I was hooked.
And, amazingly enough, I did it! I won by completing a little over 50,000 words in one month, writing everyday including on a road trip to San Diego to spend Thanksgiving with my son. That first NaNo book became my first published novel. It took nearly seven more years, many classes and a good critique group but I kept at it. Waltz with a Cowboy was published in May, 2016.
I’m still finding out all sorts of things I don’t know about writing but I’ve come a long way from that first hesitant writer class and I’ve enjoyed all of it. Plus, I’ve met some amazing people along the way. That first book has turned into a trilogy. I’ve promised myself not to wait seven years before publishing the next in the series. One thing I do know—writing is part of my life now and it’s going to stay.