10 Things I Wish I Would Have Known As A Newbie Writer; But I Learned The Hard Way

I’ve dreamed of being a writer since the 4th grade. I think that would have been 1986, or there about. But I didn’t actually do anything besides jot down stories and ideas once in a while until 2006. That was the year I quit my job, became a stay-at-home mom, and moved two hours away from friends and family. Even then, I entered the pursuit of literary endeavors blindly. And I must say, pretty naively. There are a few things I would love to have known in 2006 that took me years to learn, so maybe this list will help any newbie writers, or not-so-newbie writers, who happen upon this post.

1 – Make Writing a Priority

I’ve talked about this several times, but most recently in a blog post here. You have to make writing a part of your life, your schedule, just like your family, your job, school, whatever it is that makes up life for you. If you want to be a writer you have to find room to write. And I’m not one of those “write every day” people either. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t do something related to my writing career, but I don’t write every day. Sometimes it’s as simple as connecting with other authors on Twitter, reading a blog post on writing advice, promoting someone else’s book, or reading a YA novel.

You have to decide this dream is worth something to you, and that’s not measured in books sold, dollar signs, or accolades. I haven’t made a penny or sold a single book yet. But the keyword there is “yet”. The dream doesn’t come true without the hard, hard, exhausting and never ending work. The idea that you have to pay your dues first is very, very true. And even once that dream is “real” the money and fame might not be. It’s going to have to be an important part of you to keep going.

2 – Own It

Do you write? If the answer is YES, then you’re a writer. Own it. You’re not an aspiring writer: you’re a writer! It doesn’t matter if you’re traditionally published, an Amazon ebook writer, fan fic or WattPad writer, or just a writer who puts words on the page but hasn’t found your avenue of publication yet. You write = you’re a writer. It doesn’t matter if you’re terrible or fabulous, fresh and new or cliched, traditional or groundbreaking. You’re a writer. Don’t let anyone take that from you.

And never be ashamed to declare it proudly. I spent years too embarrassed to tell people I was a writer. Mainly because I had mentally tied the idea of success and legitimacy to the idea of being an actual writer. It took me a while to accept that if my fingers flew across the keyboard placing black words on a white page, I was in fact a writer. And a hard working one at that. There was no need to be embarrassed because I had no outward signs of achievement yet. I write; therefore I am a writer.

3 – Accept That What You Write is Crap

Not very confidence inducing, am I? But you need to accept this. Especially in the beginning. Even the best writers produce some pretty awful first drafts. And second, and third . . . That’s why writing is a process. You may write a beautiful first draft, or maybe it’s simply word vomit with a little structure. Either way, it’s on the page, and that’s a start.

Most people aren’t born amazing writers. Even those that go through creative writing programs in college don’t always pop out a best seller on their first go. It takes practice. Critique. Swallowing your pride and working harder. Then more writing. More critique. Repeat. Repeat. Writing that first draft is often the fun part. Fingers flying, words flowing, ideas bursting from your head faster than you can tap letters on the page. But writing is also in the nitty-gritty hard work of revision and reading the same words again and again and again.

But don’t be embarrassed by that word vomit either. We all have it. Whether it’s an entire first draft or just a few chapters that stubbornly stick between the slats of our imagination and won’t slide through into words. DO revise your first draft before you seek out betas. DO continue to learn how to be a better writer and apply that to your work. But DON’T give up because that first go isn’t a shiny golden baby, but rather a wrinkly, pale, yet somehow lovable one. Ugly babies often grow into wonderous humans.

4 – Never Stop Learning

I don’t care if you have an MFA, you can always learn more about writing. And if you’re like me and have an associate’s degree in a field unrelated to writing, there’s a lot to learn. I always did well in my English and writing classes, so it’s not like that aspect was a challenge for me, but there were definitely things about grammar, punctuation, and writing that I never knew or had forgotten. (And probably still don’t know.)

But brushing up on the basics isn’t enough. There are as many different writing styles and approaches to craft as there are writers. Read the novels of writers you admire, check out blog posts and articles about how to write better, and read books on craft. There’s always something more to learn, and sometimes you just need a reminder of something you’ve heard a hundred times but can’t quite seem to apply to your own writing.

And yet, that’s still not enough. One of the most important parts of writing—and a part I feel is too often neglected—is learning as much as you can about the identity of the character you are writing. If you’re an Own Voices author, then you have a lifetime of experience to fall back on when writing a character that represents your identity. But if you’re not, you’ve got a steep learning curve to catch up and be moderately effective. If you’re not Own Voices, you will never be the best person to write that story, so it’s going to take you a lot of extra work to still be an acceptable person to write that story.

5 – Don’t Let Your Mom Read Your Work

Okay, I’m being a little facetious here, but seriously, don’t. In fact, don’t give it to your husband, brother, sister, dad, aunt, cousin, best friend or the post man either. I know how exciting it is to have that finished manuscript in hand and want to share it with someone, but people who know you are not the best ones to share it with. Like I said, I’m kidding—a little.

It is okay to let family and friends read if you just need a meaningless ego boost so you can brave the idea of actually letting another writer take a look at it. But if you think you’re going to get useful feedback from anyone who actually knows you in the flesh, it’s unlikely. Maybe, just maybe, you know another writer, or your sister has a writing degree, or Uncle Buck published a novel, but even then, they may not objectively be the best people to look at your work. They love you. They’re going to see you every holiday, birthdays, and lots of places in between. They have a vested interest in your happiness. You don’t want that in a critiquer.

True feedback comes from people who don’t care if they hurt your feelings. True critique comes from people who write. We know (hopefully) what goes into a good novel. We have read many great books, and written our own (quality subject to opinion) and can see where you’re telling vs showing, or using too many -ly adjectives, or know a Mary Sue when she skips across the page. We know craft. Your mom doesn’t. And even if she does, she may love you too much to crush your dreams. Get yourself a dream crusher CP. They will only make your writing better.

 6 – Find Yourself a Writing Crew

Writing is by nature a somewhat solitary endeavor. From my experience, a good majority of writers consider themselves introverts and reclusive. We’d much rather hold the company of our next manuscript or a favorite novel than hobnob with anyone anywhere anytime. But that can be detrimental to your development as a writer. And the good news for introverts? Most of the interaction you have with fellow writers is online! Yay for the internet!

I didn’t start using Absolute Write forums until 2010, almost 4 years after I started writing! Sometimes I look at that join date in my profile and think it must be wrong. It feels like some of those writers have been with me since the beginning. But that just shows the value of good writing friends: because I can’t actually imagine doing what I do without them, even though I did it for 4 years.

Twitter blipped on my radar in 2014, mainly because of a pitch contest. I came for the chance to pitch my book; stayed because it became one of the best ways to network with other writers. Even though AW made me feel less alone and I love my AW friends (they’re with me on Twitter, too), Twitter made me feel like I belonged! Sometimes it can feel like high school with cliques and drama and arguing, but I was in this big pool of thousands of writers who had opinions and ideas and talked about process and marketing and just everything! My knowledge grew by leaps and bounds just from exposure to people just like me (and many not at all like me) and the industry itself.

Your writing crew can teach you to be a better writer, teach you about the industry ins-and-outs, provide support for all those moments of what-the-hell-am-I-doing-anyway?! You need beta readers and critique partners, advice and moments of solidarity over just how hard this all is, and sometimes just someone to laugh with and relate to. Some people might think this is sad, but I barely talk to IRL friends anymore. Yet I talk to my online writing friends every day. It’s not sad to me, because I’ve found my crew.

7 – Be a Cheerleader

Being a writer is hard. I think many of us are prone to anxiety in the first place, but putting out something so personal into the world is double anxiety inducing. That novel, short story,  or poem is a piece of your heart, your soul. It’s your imagination and dreams come to life in black and white—and sometimes color if you’re a picture book or graphic novelist. It’s months and months of late nights, neglected housework, and missed social engagements. It’s not just words on paper.

And that’s why we need cheerleaders. This kind of goes along with the above about finding your writing crew, but it’s more about what you can do. Maybe you don’t need cheerleaders, which is fine, but I think many people would give up if they didn’t have others cheering them on. And seeing the success of others can spur us to believe that yes, this too can happen for me.

There are many ways to be someone’s cheerleader. As a beta reader or critique partner, think about what the MS has done right as well as where it has gone wrong. Once again, not everyone needs this. I can get along just fine with a critique that shows me all my flaws but doesn’t point out my triumphs. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the compliments, but I don’t need them. Yet, in the beginning I think I did. Now I’m confident enough, but you might not always know the temperament of your fellow writer, so try offering positive feedback as well as negative.

Social media is another great way to offer encouragement. Like and/or share a blog post, leave a positive comment on a Tweet or Facebook post, and offer congratulations at agent signings, book deals, and signing events. Share in the excitement and happiness for your fellow authors, because they deserve the celebration now, and it makes you feel happy and excited too. Besides, they’ll be there for you when you have something to celebrate!

8 – Take Criticism (and rejection) Like a Champ

If you want to succeed in writing, you will have to learn to take criticism. And yes, no matter how experienced you become, criticism can still hurt. I’ve been writing with the idea of achieving publication for more than ten years now, and hearing that an editor “didn’t connect with my character” or that a beta felt a line in my book was sexist or that my critique partner thought a sub-plot was too unbelievable still stings pretty bad. You labor and love over every character, every plot, every paragraph, hell, every word! Criticism can feel downright personal.

But it’s not. So stop. Step back from the critique in whatever form it comes: beta or CP critique, agent or editor feedback, book reviews, or online comments. STEP. BACK. When you’re too close to your work, it is hard to think objectively. When you’re upset about a comment, it’s almost impossible to think objectively. STEP. BACK.

I’ve seen it many times. (I’ve done it a few times myself.) A critique hurts and you seek to defend yourself, or maybe strike back at the critiquer, or even find other voices that support yours so you can feel like you’ve done nothing wrong. But you’re not helping yourself. In fact, you’re actively harming yourself. I’m not saying that every critique and comment is valid, but I will tell you that every critique and comment is valid for the person who has given it. They’re not out to get you. Try to look through the lens that they are viewing your work; listen to what they have to say and weigh it as objectively as you can; do seek other opinions, but make sure they aren’t just people who will agree with you, but rather people who have a similar lens as the original critiquer.

Obviously I’m talking about a lot more than comma placement or “tell vs show” here. Sometimes critique can be as simple as that. And sometimes it can be about harmful representation for which you are not the best person to decide if it is or isn’t. But you have to learn to be objective, put aside your hurt, and evaluate the critique for what is best for your novel—and most importantly—best for your readers.

9 – Don’t Query Recklessly

Querying itself is as much an art form as writing. And jumping into it head first without learning the art can damage your chances. That doesn’t mean if you make a mistake or a query faux pas that you should pack up your lap top and throw in the towel. I’ve had some pretty egregious mishaps myself (like the time I used the wrong name for an agent) but I still managed to find an agent who loved my book.

Good news: there’s a plethora of querying advice on the internet. Google, as always, is your best friend, but to get you started, below you will find a few posts I wrote about querying that link to my favorite posts and articles about querying. Yes, it’s a lot of reading. Did you think this would be easy? It’s not. Not only do you need to read all that I wrote, and all that other writers and agents have written, but then you have to decipher what is best for you. Because everyone has different advice. And then figure out what’s best for the particular agent you’re querying. Because they each have their own likes and dislikes. Which means more research. Oh, and you’ll need to research which agents would be a best fit for you and your book. That’s more research.

You owe it to yourself and to that book you spent months, sometimes years, writing and polishing. Querying can take as much time as the actual writing. But you want to do it right, not quickly.

Queries! Queries! Queries! – Part One: Researching Agents

Agent Research: I forgot to tell you something!

Queries! Queries! Queries?? – Part Two: How to write a query letter

The Query Process: It’s Own Brand of Crazy

Newbie Post #12: 5 Silver Linings in Those Rejection Letters

10 – Give a Hand Up

As we move through our journey as writers—whether our goal is publication or just the joy of writing—be willing to give a hand up. That’s how our writing community grows and progresses. Chances are you’re going to be given beta reads and query critiques from other writers, especially in the early years, so you have to be willing to do the same in return. In the beginning, it’s a trade of scratching each others’ backs, and you get the added benefit of learning a lot about what will work for your own writing by reading and critiquing others. But as you become more experienced, you can offer a valuable helping hand to beginners.

And this goes for book promotion and book reviews as well. An author’s bread and butter can very well depend on how many reviews they have on Amazon or how their sales did that first week after release. We have to be willing to support our writing community in anyway we realistically can. It’s instinct to keep your eye on the prize ahead, but I also like to keep an eye and a hand out for those climbing behind.

So that’s about it. Truth is, you may have to learn these things firsthand for yourself. But at least if you read this, you know to be looking for those learning opportunities. And maybe you’ll catch on just a little faster than I did. Good luck!

 

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Newbie Post #4 – Sally Green’s acknowledgments and why they mean something to me

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No, I wasn’t mentioned, though I do have an acknowledgment credit under my belt, but that’s another story. Sally Green’s opening paragraphs resonated with me, but I’ll let you read them first. Don’t worry, it’s just a few paras. I didn’t type out the whole thing!

I started writing rather late in my life, not very long ago in 2010, and did my best to hide this new obsession (as it quickly became) from my friends and relatives. I certainly had no intention of making myself the object of ridicule when the most I’d ever written was a note to the milkman. However, it didn’t take long before my husband noticed that I was up to something in our little office room until 2 a.m. every night. I decided to be brave and come clean.

“I’m writing a novel.”

I waited. Would he laugh? Tell me I was being ridiculous?

“Oh! Okay. Sounds good.”

Not the reaction I expected, but just what I needed. I could not have written Half Bad without his support and quiet encouragement.

After that I became a little bolder and confided in a couple of friends, who then had to bear the brunt of my tedious conversations about writing.

Don’t you love those moments when you read something that sounds like it came from your own head. For a moment, you are connected to that writer. “She gets me! We are one!”

180px-Little_Green_Men Pic borrowed from Wikia Scratchpad

I too started my writing career later in life, so I can relate, though I started in 2006 and I had written a lot more than a note to the milkman. But I’d never been serious about it before. To start writing wasn’t difficult. I had an idea and I started researching (actually, way too much researching – it was a form of procrastination.) Admitting to others what I was doing, that was the hard part. Like Green, I was prepared for some negative responses. Not from my husband. He’s always been supportive of the things I want to do, and he has more confidence in me than I have in myself. But to tell friends and family that I was writing a novel created so much pressure. What if I never completed my novel? Or worse, what if I did, but it’s absolute rubbish? If I’m never published will people think I wasted my time and our money?

To my surprise, most people were very excited for me. Maybe in the back of their minds they were thinking, “Yeah, probably not going to happen, but props to her for trying,” but that didn’t matter, because they didn’t say that. They said, “Wow! Really? That’s awesome?” and “What are you writing about?” and “How do you go about writing a novel and getting it published?” and “That must be so difficult. I don’t think I could ever do that.” They took me seriously. They had serious questions and offered to read for me. And they showed me how amazing it is that I am a writer. Not everyone can do it. And it’s not because I’m some genius who knows how to turn a phrase, but because I had the fortitude to finish it!

Getting over the hurdle of self-doubt was probably the hardest part of my career so far. It took not only the bravery to tell people I was attempting to write a book, but also the bravery to accept in my heart that I was a writer. To wear that mantle no matter what the outcome. Yes, I needed the support and encouragement of my husband, my kids, my family and my friends, but I needed to believe that what I was doing was not a hobby. It was not a waste of time. And I would achieve my dream of being published, sharing my stories with others and creating a career for myself that I could be proud of.

To be honest, I use to skip the acknowledgment pages in books and rarely even glanced at the credits in a movie. Now that I’m a writer, I know that any work I create will not be the sole effort of myself. It will take my support group, my beta readers and editors, an agent who believes in my work and many others along the way. And they deserve to be noticed and praised. I’ve been reading those final pages in a book for a couple of years now with more interest and understanding, and I can’t wait to thank all the wonderful people in my life who have helped me along the way to being published!

Do you read book dedications or acknowledgments? Who would you include in your own thank you page?

Look for Newbie Post #5 where I talk about learning to let go and not hanging your career on one manuscript . . .

Newbie Post #1
Newbie Post #2
Newbie Post #3

Writing Process Blog Hop: Hey, they let me on the bus!

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Last week I was tagged in the Writing Process Blog Hop by Sarah J. Carlson, a fellow YA author, and an American living in Singapore! (I might be a little jealous right now.) I would have responded to the invite immediately, but I had a Ninja Training Birthday Party to plan for a six-year-old!

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Now that it’s over, I can concentrate on how honored I am to be included. Blog hops are fun, and so far I’ve enjoyed reading about everyone’s writing process. Besides, it might make me feel a teeny, weeny bit validated. Like I get to sit at the big girl author’s table. Okay, enough fangirling. On to the good stuff.

What Am I Working On?
Currently I am in the midst of what I hope are last revisions for my YA Post-apocalyptic novel I HAVE NO NAME. No, I don’t mean the novel isn’t named yet. It really is called I HAVE NO NAME.

If everyone you know is dead, do you still exist? For one sixteen-year-old plague survivor the answer is no. She’s broken, alone. Hiding from the pain of the past, she tries to forget everything, even her name.

Yeah, I’m still working on hooks and queries and synopsis, but right now I really need to concentrate on this novel. (No, Blog! Stop calling my name. I have work to do!) NO NAME has gone through at least twenty or more rounds of editing and I’m currently cutting a few characters, cutting a few scenes, combining two characters into one while giving him a new personality and adding him to the existing love triangle. Whew! It’s a lot of work, but I think will be satisfying in the end. I know, everyone is sick of love triangles, but this has a purpose, really. And adding this combo-character to the mix makes it more of a love quadrilateral, I think.

Besides the novel, which should be my primary focus right now, I’m also trying to get this blog off the ground. So far, I’m pleased with the results.

How Does My Work Differ From Others of Its Genre?
I have no idea! I read a lot of YA books and some in the Post-apocalyptic/Survival genre, but I never set out to be different. I just had a story to tell and I told it. The one thing I might do differently than some novelists is I don’t try to make you like my characters. They are who they are and their story must come out. I don’t change what they say or do because I think it will offend or attract anyone. This is what they as the people I imagine would do. No apologies. In fact, my husband at one point in reading the book said, “I don’t really like her (my MC) right now.” And one of my betas said something similar: “I don’t know if I like your MC.” My husband was referring specifically to something she was doing and later said he got over it. My beta never really said more than that. But as far as I’m concerned I’m doing something right. My MC doesn’t always need to be likable. But she does need to be real and believable. If I achieve that, I’m happy.

Why Do I Write What I Write?
Because I’m a storyteller. I always have been. My imagination runs wild and I’m always thinking, “What if?” As to specifically the novel I’m writing now, it’s because I had a dream. When I woke the next morning, I couldn’t get the story out of my head.

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It played over and over, morphing and developing into something different. The characters became alive with personalities and back stories and lives that needed to be lived. I was working on something different at that point and spent almost two years mentally developing the idea and keeping notes in a notebook. The girl’s story was almost completely realized before I ever wrote a word. It was just something that couldn’t stay inside me.

How Does Your Writing Process Work?
As I hinted in the previous para, I’ll get an idea and let it stew for awhile. Maybe I’ll do research passively or keep a notebook if the idea has its hooks in me, jotting down scenes that should happen, motivations, back story, personalities, whatever comes to mind. When I’m actually ready to write I usually have the whole thing laid out in my head. For my first novel I outlined, but this one I didn’t need to. It was there, like a movie I’d watch so many times I knew every line by heart. But even though the story was already told, that doesn’t mean I’m not open to change. The book is written organically, scenes and characters changing as they see fit. Sometimes I’ll be typing away and the scene and characters flow into what they should be, despite what I might have imagined earlier. Or a character’s motivation or personality trait will come shining through, where I had never even thought about it before. Very rarely do I have to rack my brains for what will happen or why it happens or what a character is like. These things just pour from my fingers into the keyboard and out onto the empty whiteness of my screen.

I liked what C.S. Boyack said on his blog stop about re-reading your last chapter before you get started for the day. When I’m writing (as in not editing or revising) I often find this helpful to get back into the flow of things. It allows me to fully immerse myself back into the world I’ve created, back into the head of my character and move forward. I can always tell when I was writing just to get something on paper and when I’m really and truly into my story. But those days when I can’t mentally be there 100% are fine too. That’s what editing and revising are for. If I can get it down, get through it, and come back later to make it better, it’s just part of the job. Besides, sometimes this is a red flag for something that needs to be cut or whittled down. If I’m bored writing it, my readers are going to through the book against the wall!

Once I’ve finished a rough draft, I’ll edit and revise a couple of times before I let a few trusted friends and family have a read. More revisions, and then I’ll seek out beta readers. More revision. That’s where I am now. Having revised so many times, and received opinions and advice from quite a few people (writers and non-writers) I’m ready to move forward, just as soon as I get a last bit of tweaking done. Knowing myself, a manuscript will never be good enough in my eyes to submit, so at some point you have to say enough is enough. I’m not making this better, just different. That’s when you need to decide what your next move is.

Passing the torch:
E.J. McGrorey at 90,000 Words is a mother, a wife, a digital communications specialist and aspiring author in Sydney Australia. Oh, and on top of it all she’s also studying for a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Technology, Sydney. So, you, know, a total under-achiever!
Paige Randall is a DC based writer of Contemporary Romance and has recently finished her first novel Circling.
Jodie Llewellyn like my first tag is another Aussie. Australia has some great bloggers and Jodie is an aspiring YA author like myself.

Check them out soon to see their posts on the Writing Process Blog Hop!

Newbie Post #3 – Yeah, about that hobby thing . . .

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In Newbie Post #2 I discussed how I became a stay-at-home mom and decided to make fiction writing my hobby. For anyone who’s been bitten by the writing bug, you know how laughable this is. It didn’t take long before I realized that my hobby was actually an insatiable desire to put thought to paper, feeding my spiritual being with the stories in my head and having the ultimate goal of sharing those pieces of my soul with the world. A little dramatic? Yes, but a rather accurate representation of how I feel on many occasions.

So, while my daughter tumbled and flipped her way through four hour gymnastic practices, I researched and typed and scribbled. When there weren’t any cookies or brownies to bake for my son’s classroom, I plotted and planned and developed characters. Every night as I lay there trying to fall asleep, I’d imagine scenes from my book and what I was hopefully going to write the next day. My appetite for reading became voracious, devouring everything and anything that was either research for material, or comparable MG titles. My inspired novel was MG, so I convinced myself—and anyone who asked—that I was doing valuable research. I might of just liked reading. 🙂

At what point was writing no longer a hobby? I can’t remember.

. . . I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once. – John Green, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

Oh, how I love that line! It can describe so many things in my life, and especially writing. Let’s hope my writing career has a happier ending than Hazel Grace, but if it doesn’t:

. . . I can not tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. – John Green, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

On the next Newbie Post I’ll discuss what’s written in Sally Green’s acknowledgements for HALF BAD . . .

Newbie Post #1
Newbie Post #2

Newbie Post #2 – Dreams Awakening . . .

So where were we? Ah, yes, I’d dedicated myself to being a mother, wife, and engineering technician at a company creating museum exhibits. If you check out my previous post Five-Not-So-Easy Steps, you can get an overview of what happened between Newbie Post #1 and Newbie Post #2.

In 2006 I moved my two kids, (Minions #1 & 2) 160 miles to be with my boyfriend (now husband). He’d taken a job almost two years earlier and we’d muddled through a long distance relationship all that time. It was a big step: quitting my job, moving from a house that had come to represent a haven and accomplishment for us, changing schools, friends, leaving family, and finding a new gym for my daughter’s gymnastics training. The upheaval was huge, but we met it head-on, excited for the changes and welcoming a new chapter in our lives.

But what was I going to do with my time? I’d always worked. Even when I was going to school and raising Minion #1, I worked. Not working or having a career had never even been a goal—or thought— of mine. I new my boyfriend liked the idea of someone staying home with the kids, and I was open to it because I felt that when it was an option it was best for the kids to have a parent to raise them. It had just never been an option for me, and realistically, it would have been better for my boyfriend to be the stay-at-home parent. I love my kids, but he was far better suited mentally to the task. Unfortunately, we were moving for his job in the first place, and he made far more money than I did. So I decided to give this stay-at-home mom thing a try.

At first, it was pretty easy. Both kids were in school, and having the option to volunteer in their classrooms and on field trips was fantastic. I baked cupcakes and read stories, planned birthday parties and supervised class parties. For my daughter’s new gymnastics team I was the go-to mom that made posters of the gymnasts and encouraging little presents before meets. Why not? I had the time and I wasn’t going to sit around doing nothing all day. Besides, it gave me an excuse to do less cleaning!

Being the perfect Martha Stewart mom wasn’t the only thing I did, though. Having all this extra time on my hands, and being able to dictate my own schedule for the first time in, well ever, made me think, “Hey, I could try writing a book now!” I’d read a book about J.K. Rowling’s life, and I thought, “If she can do it, I can to.” Besides, it was just a hobby, right? It was something to fill my spare time. Everybody has hobbies, and I had just as much right as the next fisherman, knitter, quilter, or baseball card collector to spend time on my hobby. I would write one book, and if nothing came of it I would set it aside having lost nothing but my time. In the next Newbie Post: Yeah, about that hobby thing . . .

Newbie Post #1

Newbie Post #1 – My humble beginnings . . .

Chapter one
I think I’ve always been a writer, I just didn’t know it. As a child, after the Little House on the Prairie books were read to me for the first time, I’d walk around narrating my day in my head. You know, just in case I was ever called upon to write my life story, I’d have a jump start! 🙂 Later I developed elaborate story lines for my Barbies. Those ladies (and Ken) lived some amazing lives. They survived WWII, the Civil War, explored deep space galaxies, defeated evil sorceress queens and had some steamy PG romances! To keep things straight, I’d write down timelines, stories, who loved who, etc. The beginnings of my novel writing.

My little sister and I shared a room, so we would lie awake for hours (especially during those light-filled summer nights when we still had to go to bed at 8pm! 😦 ) and I would tell her stories. I vividly remember the telling, but not the story, of a sorceress dressed in purple and green. She was based on a coloring page I had completed that day. My sister would be entertained with my ramblings until our dad would pound on the floor (our ceiling-their room was above us) to tell us to go to sleep. We’d stop talking, but it didn’t stop us from dreaming up more stories to play the next day!

About 4th grade I discovered actual story writing. I was encouraged by my teacher, Mrs. Kelley and I owe her a big thank you for helping me to see that writing was a potential career. Many ideas were started and cast aside and my favorite Christmas present that year was a word processor. Wish I still had it, for nostalgia’s sake. 5th grade introduced the career of an architect to me and I admit I was distracted for many years, but I never gave up on the idea of someday writing. All through high school and college, I entertained the notion, but did very little with it. If I came up with an idea, I’d jot it down, filing it away for future use. I earned an Associates degree in Architectural Technology, went to work, and put a lot of my dreams and aspirations aside for children and husband. But dreams never die, they just slumber. On the next Newbie Post? Dreams Awakening . . .

When did you know you had to be a writer? Was it a eureka moment or a slow burn until you knew writing was in your soul? Were you young or did it hit you later in life?

Under Construction . . .

Construction Site!

Construction Site!

I know I rushed into blogging with very little thought into what my site would contain, and subsequently haven’t posted anything since the initial plunge, but I’ve been thinking. I’m a planner and researcher and a stick-my-toe-in-to-check-the-water-first kind of girl, so now that I’ve done all that, let’s get started.

My plan is to post at least once a week, hopefully twice a week and go from there. I have a feeling my obsessive personality will take over and I’ll be posting multiple times a week, but let’s remember I still have a novel to finish! Being a relative newbie, I’ll post on my journey as a writer and hopefully give other newbies some insight into what to do (and not to do). I’ll also post my own thoughts and ideas about turning blood into ink, and hopefully you won’t disagree too much. 🙂 My book review section will reflect my current reading (and writing) interests: YA Books, though a few others may sneak in there from time to time. The Obligatory Mommy Blog won’t take up too much space, but my five kids give me ample fodder for the writing grist mill. And I’ll probably make a comment or two on my own life, social topics and the occasional headline. Hopefully I’ll get some comments, start a few conversations, share my limited knowledge and learn something myself. I am so looking forward to getting to know all of you!