I was noodling about online today, wondering if I should do my workout routine first or if I should try to write a chapter or two for Diamond, and came across a tweet from a published author where he suggested that he had been encouraged to write by others. I’m glad of this, because I enjoy his books, but it also opened up a bit of a painful wound for me, and I will explain.
When I was a child, I was encouraged to write as a hobby- it kept me quiet and out of trouble; my parents didn’t mind if I read and wrote ceaselessly. I wrote my first short story at eight and won awards for my writing at school; I finished my first novel during summer break in high school. I wrote endlessly, and well.
When I reached the end of high school, I wanted to get an English degree so I could pursue my dream of writing professionally.
My parents said if I did this they would kick me out of the house and I’d have to find a way to pay for my food and lodgings somewhere else (I couldn’t afford to go to school and live on campus, and I knew if i had to pay for living in a dorm I’d have to get a part time job and my grades would suffer, and I’d lose any scholarship I was able to get which I needed to pay tuition with. My parents always made it clear that if I wanted to get an education I had to pay for it myself).
So I put aside my dream and took undergraduate and graduate degrees in microbiology. It’s interesting, it pays my bills, but I have not excelled at it and the older I got, the more I found myself regretting that I didn’t just take out a student loan (I hadn’t even realized this was an option before) and gotten that English degree. I am not sorry for my experiences and knowledge gained via my life as a scientist- this actually helps my fiction, a lot. But I do regret that younger me, not plagued with bipolar symptoms, hadn’t been able to channel her energy and passion into writing. I regret that my discipline really did require disciplined study in order for me to do well enough to keep my scholarships, and I lacked the energy to write much of the time.
However, I have had the past year or so mostly off and so I have been able, despite distractions and sickness, to be able to finish one novel I am proud of (Infinity), about a quarter of another novel I am similarly proud of (Diamond) and to write a few poems and short pieces in between. I might write slowly now, for many reasons, and my voice in writing has also changed. But this may not be such a bad thing.
I like to think that my initial setbacks in pursuing my dreams of becoming a professional writer were learning processes, and that my voice is now more unique, older, more mature, more interesting. I like to think that, at nearly 46, I’m not too old to follow my dreams.
I’ve made it a goal for 2018 to sell Infinity, so I have already begun the long and arduous process of sending queries to agents. Wish me luck!