Writing has always been something I did on my own. I wrote when I came home from school, coming up with imaginary worlds, daydreaming on family trips and adventures, and writing little random thoughts and ideas in old school notebooks. Somehow, as a kid, I found myself pulling open a blank page and bringing to life the beginnings of a story.
Writing stories has been part of my life for as long as I can remember – from 1st grade on up. But whenever someone was looking over my shoulder, or my parents or siblings came in the room, I covered up what I was writing because I didn’t want anyone to see it. I didn’t want them to see the crazy things I was coming up with because they just wouldn’t understand or they might think of me differently for the off-the-wall ideas I had.
It wasn’t until 6th grade when that mentality changed.
In 6th grade, I had the most incredible teacher. For one particular assignment, I remember she asked us all to write a creative short story. It could be about anything we wanted. I don’t remember exactly what the story was about, but it involved traveling through portals and realms and something in the sewer. . . . I wasn’t particularly fond of the story because it just felt foreign to me. It was drastically different from the stories I normally wrote, but I still ended up turning it in. It wasn’t until Parent-Teacher conference that my parents came home with the story in hand and told me that my teacher loved it and had shared it with them.
I went completely still.
My parents had read the crazy story.
They liked it.
But I hated it.
I actually took the story out of their hands, crumpled it up and threw it in the trash. I was angry that my teacher had showed them the story and I was embarrassed they had read something of mine and everything about it just felt strange and weird to me. They tried to tell me it was really good, but I just wouldn’t listen to them. But even still, something really struck me. My parents were encouraging me to write because my teacher had told them that I was really good at it.
I talked to my teacher the next day and she told me that I was really, really good at writing and that I should keep writing. I should let people read what I write and continue to write stories that I loved. That I shouldn’t be ashamed of my writing.
That simple belief – the belief that one person, someone I trusted (more than my parents, because, you know, they have blind belief in their children) actually believed that I was good at this writing and that was all the motivation I needed in order to pursue this crazy thing called writing.
Fast forward several years. I had moved to a new city and a new school and poured my entire heart and soul into writing. I had written two books (my first a fan-fiction, the second my very own original idea) and had dreams of being published. In 2008, I discovered NaNoWriMo and fell in love with the idea of writing an entire book in 30 days. For every year since I have participated (except 2016) and written a plethora of stories. NaNoWriMo has played a key component fueling my love for writing and motivated me to actually put my thoughts and ideas down on paper.
In high school, I started taking creative writing classes and grew accustomed to the idea of letting people read my writing, though I was still embarrassed to admit that I really liked writing stories. Even then, my classmates and teachers were telling me my stories were really good even if my writing wasn’t the best. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school that I started to outwardly express my love of writing to people and tell them that I had actually written several books and that it was something I wanted to pursue. I confided this love of writing with one teacher in particular, and he told me about a website called inkpop.com.
Inkpop opened up an entirely new world for me. Much of who I am today as a writer is because of the inkpop community and the friends I made on that website. I received the most valuable feedback about my writing than I ever had before. The feedback was actually a critique, not just a sentence “THIS IS SO GOOD” – their comments were actually substantive and incredibly useful. I took what they said and applied it to my writing and continuously got better and better and better, until one of my books started flying up the ranks to the number #18 spot. Until HarperCollins (which owned the site) decided to close it down. The day they announced inkpop was closing was perhaps one of the worst days of my life. (I cried for days about it.)
Inkpop instilled in me a newfound love for writing that I have been unable to find anywhere else. But more than that, inkpop gave me a community and a place to share my writing where I was unashamed and with people who were able to give me valuable feedback and suddenly all of that was gone. When the site officially died, so did the community. It was devastating to lose that great feedback and I tried to find it in other places, but to this day I’ve never been able to find a similar community.
Years passed and I took more creative writing and honors English classes in high school, and capped my senior year off with AP Language and Composition to increase my writing skills even more. At that point in time, I knew writing novels was something I wanted to do. I started my college career and immediately declared as an English major, taking even more creative writing, composition and English classes for my undergraduate degree. I’ve grown immensely as a writer since my elementary days – in fact, I had a classmate in my final creative writing class who had also been in my beginner’s class my first semester of college. She told me that my writing was 10 times better than it had been before and was amazed by how much I had grown. Her comment really stuck with me and I realized writing can only get better.
Writing is a continuous learning and growing experience. It is something personal that is meant to be shared and critiqued by others. I’m currently working on various WIPs which you can read more about here and maybe one day one of them will be published.
Until then, I hope my decade of experience writing, revising, and editing might be of some help to you! Follow me on my own WriteVenture and I’ll be here to help you and guide you along yours.