About Writing

A Writer’s Education

During my first semester in college, someone told me, “Majoring in English is the worst thing a writer can do.” Sure enough, all of my English professors taught us how to write formulaic essays, endlessly analyzing literature, where word count mattered more than style. The other students never thought much about it.

But here’s the thing:

In my high school Creative Writing class, we were required to write stories in different genres for the practice. At the end of the year, after I had already used all of my favorite genres, I decided to write teen pathos for my final project. In just a couple of hours, I had cranked out a short story about a girl running away from home and getting her boyfriend killed in a car crash — it was very human interest-y, and I even laughed at how over-the-top it was while I was writing it. But hey, I needed a story for the grade, and I had already done fantasy.

And everyone thought it was autobiographical.

My mother threw a fit, and my best friend started wailing at me, how could you think such things? It caused quite a bit of drama in my real life, and no one believed me when I told them that it was meaningless.

A few months later when I sat in my college English class and listened to my fellow students analyze literature, I could easily imagine them discussing that story I had written. “A car crash symbolizes the author’s latent destructive desires.” Actually no, car crashes are easy go-tos for killing people, to make the story more melodramatic and pathetic. Not everything is symbolic.

I couldn’t take my peers or professors seriously at all. I started to play a game, to come up with the most absurd interpretations I could — supported with quotes from the text, of course — and my English professors loved and praised me with no inkling of what I was doing. It all just seemed ridiculous.

I dropped out of college entirely after two years. My best education came from the time I spent living in a van and traveling the country. In other words, living.

I understand why I had been told not to major in English. Those classes can teach you how to B.S. your way through formulas, but they can’t teach you how to write with your soul. Often, they are detrimental to that very practice.

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My zebra finches, Chris and Cathy.
About Me

Writing Drive

I’m working on my second draft for my current novel-in-progress, but I’ve been letting lots of “real life” activities distract me — that’s what happens when Spring rolls around.

Instead of writing, I’ve sandblasted an antique bathtub, hand sewed a cloth doll, and adopted a sun conure (who likes my husband better, ha ha). With all of these other activities going on, I haven’t felt much like curling up with my laptop.

Even now, my seven-month-old kitten is buttering me up for attention. What a busy person I have become!

But eventually the absence from writing starts to wear thin, like an unmet drive that becomes more and more distracting with each passing moment. I confess to feeling cranky for the last couple of days. Too much time has slipped by. I crave my words and characters again.

Soon the drive must be satiated.

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Macro tax
About Writing

Writing from experience

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Err, sort of . . .

Frankly, this quote frightens me with the prospect that there are people out there who are so boring that they’d only be able to write one book about the life they’ve lived. Couldn’t they at least turn it into a trilogy?

When we’re advised to “write from experience,” we aren’t intended to compose a series of personal anecdotes with stand-in characters for all the people we know. It’s more that if you’ve never been in love, then you probably aren’t going to make a convincing romance author.

Likewise, if you know what it feels like to be betrayed, then you can write a beautiful and heart wrenching portrayal of betrayal.

You never really know how you’re going to react to something until it’s actually happening.

Writers can take their secret thoughts and emotions — the deep and sometimes scary things that are never shared out loud — and transpose them onto different situations and characters. Maybe you’ve never been held hostage at gunpoint, but there was a time when you felt terrified and helpless, and that’s all the foundation you need to write that story.

About Me

About me

I started writing my first novel when I was ten, inspired by my love of the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, about mice and rats with the wonderful element of magic mixed in, because I’ve always been hopelessly in love with fantasy. It became my dream to be a writer, and every free moment was spent curled up with a notebook and my favorite pen. By the time I turned 20, I had finished four novellas.

Then life happened. College wasn’t working for me, so I dropped out, found a full-time job, and moved out on my own. Then, just a couple of months before my 22nd birthday, I met a man and fell madly in love. A week later, we vowed to spend our lives together. I quit my job, devoted myself to the role of wife, and once again turned my sights towards writing.

That’s when the bad luck started. After a few months my husband lost his job and couldn’t find a new one. By the time I turned 23, we were homeless. We spent the next two years living off savings as we traveled the country in our car, looking for work and meeting countless numbers of people.

After our first daughter was born, our situation finally turned around for the better. My husband found a good job and we settled down. Our second daughter came along a couple years later, and shortly afterwards we were able to buy a house. Now we have a son as well, making us a family of five (and four cats, one bird, and fish).

Becoming a mother is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me, and it’s a dream come true to spend every day playing and caring for my children. But I never forgot my wish to be an author, and a number of experiences that I went through during our period of homelessness became stagnant inside of me and impossible to express. For a time I felt as if I would lose myself against them. On a lark I decided to pick up writing again, and found catharsis. After more than seven years hiatus, I’m creating worlds and characters again.

I don’t write about my experiences, and none of my stories are autobiographical in any way. I write my emotions, in fantastical circumstances that tickle my fancy and indulge my creativity. I write what I love.

I write because I was born to.