I wanted to be an author ever since I was about five or six years old. Not long after I could write my name, I decided I wanted to write books. I decided this because I thought I had good ideas, and I knew my imagination was very active. But as I grew older, I discovered more and more that it is expected that authors have some natural talent with words. You have to be good at writing to be an author, and if you're not, maybe you should be channelling your abilities elsewhere - right?
There are a few people that really encouraged me to keep writing when I was very young - between eleven and fourteen - but overall, the response was that I was not good enough, and probably never would be.The unspoken message was that I was wasting my time, and would be better off to stop now and try something more realistic. I have to be honest - that hit me really hard. In some senses, I'm still trying to decide if that advice was bad or not! Luckily(?), I'm of the obsessive nature anyway, so I continued writing most of the way through my teen years, experimenting with book formats and poetry. It was when I came close to finishing to school that I became really frightened. What was I to do with my life? I had a huge idea for a seven book series that had been churning around in my brain literally since I was ten, or earlier. I felt like if I didn't write it now, I would eventually lose my enthusiasm and courage, and it would vanish. I would be giving away one of the best opportunities of my life.
But I had to do something to earn money. I knew if I studied for three years, it was going to take up the bulk of my writing time, because I'm a perfectionist. It would be almost impossible for me to research options for submitting my book(s) to a publisher and keep up with the writing and editing and study. Besides,I would be building up a debt I had to pay off. I looked into creative writing courses, but decided against these for reasons that maybe I'll put in a blog post later. In the meantime, I read and read and read. Everything from Plutarch to Homer to Ovid, to Shakespeare to Lovelace to Coleridge, to Keats to Austen to Bronte to Dickens. My favorite authors became Rowling, Thomas Hardy, and Katherine Mansfield. I started working from a bigger pool of words and imagery, and that really helped me.
In the end, I went with my gut. I wasn't hurting anyone by doing what I really desired, in my heart of hearts, to do. But I wasn't going to make a living either if I wasn't careful. I had other passions besides writing - though my love of writing dwarfed them all by far. I loved music, which has always helped me create stories. For me, it's just another way of telling a story. So I worked hard in that area and got the basic qualifications to teach piano and singing - something I've done for almost three years now. God really blessed me in my choice; it was a wonderful occupation, and saved me plenty of time for writing. I was successful in starting up a music teaching business, and I could live off it happily.
And then I kept sending my work out to literary agents and publishers during that time. After over a decade of wanting to be a published author, I signed a publishing contract a week or so before my twenty-first birthday. It felt insanely good.
I tell this story because I think writing a story is the simplest and best way of teaching and encouraging others. I want to insist that a lot is possible through hard work. When everyone (or what feels like everyone) tells you that you shouldn't be writing, always remember that if you work hard and do it out of the right motives - in a God-honoring way - there's no reason why you shouldn't. Writing is not a natural talent, as people see natural talents in general. I firmly believe that. It's a human thing, to want to tell a story; but it takes work to write well. Five-year-olds do not come out as laureates in their first year of school. Let this encourage you: everyone starts somewhere.