I suppose, like most writers, I’ve always written. It’s in my DNA. The first real project that I remember was a play, the sequel to Grease. I was in third grade. My music teacher, Mr. Hunt, helped my class put it on. (Great teacher to do that, right?)
After that, I doodled stories and poems through high school. I loved the creative writing portions of English classes. No teacher really told me I was any better than anyone else, and I don’t remember any specific moment of encouragement. In fact, I can remember a time when an author (or maybe a poet) visited school and students were asked to submit work to her in advance. For a wannabe writer, this was a big deal that I liken to Ralphy writing a theme about a Red Rider BeBe Gun. I submitted one of my favorite poems. Submissions were anonymous. And she selected mine to read aloud. I was so excited and waited to hear compliments of my great work. Instead, in front of the class, she critiqued it. In hindsight I’m able to give her the benefit of the doubt that her intentions were kind, but to a twelve year old it was only criticism… “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
I’d always hoped to hear, “You’ll be a writer someday,” but I never got it. I persisted because when you’re a writer, you can’t not write, but also maybe/probably to prove myself. I’m defiant that way. When I hear “no,” or “you can’t,” I’m the type to prove I can, and I will, just watch me. There was, however, one exceptional teacher in high school—Miss Peters. Everyone loved Miss Peters, and with good reason. She was cool, approachable, high energy, always smiling, and she sort of sparkled with a love of writing. She tasked us to write, and as memory serves me, that’s how we were graded—on whether or not we wrote. Not on the quality or the quantity. She just wanted our number two pencils moving. And any writer will appreciate that important lesson: Butt in chair, pencil moving.
Fast forward many years and in my early twenties-ish I penned The Untitled Vegetable Book. It was pure genius in verse. I submitted it pre-internet style to many publishers and got postcard rejections — lots of them — that I still have. I show those rejections when I go to school visits as a way to demonstrate the publication — if that’s the goal — requires persistence. The Untitled Vegetable Book is in my “trunk” with many other projects.
Hit fast forward again to a time when I’m near thirty, working in Big Pharma and in need of a creative outlet. Having recently found a love of thrillers, I began studying them. I made Beat Sheets before I knew what a Beat Sheet was. I thought, “I’m gonna do this.” I had a good idea for one that backdropped the pharma industry. My novel idea came at the industry with a fresh take. I toiled early in the morning — like, really early — before work and before our babies woke up. And, damn, the draft novel was good… it still is. But, it’s fate would plop it in that trunk along with the others.
It wasn’t until years later that I got the bug to write for tweens. That, however, is a post for another day.