Five years ago today, I started tapping out words. Writing a novel was not on my 2006 to-do list, but a character and his story had nagged me for several months, and I figured, what the heck? Four months and 183,000 words later I had a (pretty awful) first draft of a story I called BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT.
I'd like to say I haven't looked back since, but I often wonder: had I known how damn hard it was to get a story or poem right, would I have even started BTB? Would I have chosen this writing path? Because knitting a scarf or throwing a pot or putting up two-dozen jars of peach preserves is so much easier and much more tangible. Writing IS hard, amazingly hard, the most difficult challenge of my life with the exception of parenting. But writing also is the most rewarding. Indeed, one of the headiest moments of my life was penning 'The End' for the first time. Kind of like giving birth.
Since January 2, 2006, I figure I've written close to a million 'creative' (i.e., non-work) words. This includes two novels (and their discarded drafts), one 'real' short story homing in at 5k words, close to fifty short fiction pieces, a hundred poems, a handful of essays, and with this post, 359 blog entries. Them's a lot of words. The payoff? More than two-dozen legitimate* publications, almost $2,000 in cash**, a few contest wins or placings, and the satisfaction that every now and then something I write makes a difference to another person in some small way.
Life is a journey. Writing is the raft, and the paddle. After five years of delving, of perseverating late nights and early mornings, of hitting blanks and gnawing pencils, I finally feel I can shrug off the mantle of 'hack'. I no longer look forward to the day I become a writer; I AM a writer.
So thank you for helping me row, for skulling down the river of words with me. Peace, Linda
Photo by my son, age 11.
*i.e., involving an editor making editorial decisions.
**the money spent on courses and conferences, books and supplies far outweighs my earnings.