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When did you really become a writer?

Thursday, April 12, 2007
Not “When did you begin writing,” which is a totally different question and frequently brings up the old “I scribbled my first oeuvre on the kitchen wall in blue crayon at the age of 2.”

I’m of a sufficiently literal mind that that answer makes me roll my eyes til they hurt. Nobody wants to be a writer when they’re 2. Or 3. Or 4. They want to be a princess/fireman/teacher/doctor/cowboy/astronaut. Not a romance novelist or a journalist or a horror writer.

What I’m asking instead is when did you sit down and start pounding out words with the practical and realistic expectation of becoming published?

I wrote before I became a writer. I was a reporter for a small-town daily in Idaho. Had a few stories on the front page, even. Features from the alumni magazine I wrote for went all over the state. But I wasn’t a writer. Or at least I didn’t think of myself that way.

I didn’t begin writing until Feb of 2002 on the morning I dripped my way from the shower to the computer, burning to get the scene in my head onto the screen.

Maybe there wasn’t a “moment” for you. Maybe you morphed from writing teen angst in high school to writing for publication without a conscious step.

So how did you get to be a writer?
4/12/2007 02:30:00 PM : : Sela Carsen : : 26 Comments


Wow, good question! I think I became a writer (and not just someone who wrote) when I decided to approach it with a business tactic.

Coming up with serious strategies of how often I wanted to write, what I'd write, researching agents/publishers, and creating goals really cemented for me that I was a writer.

By Blogger Rhonda Stapleton, at 3:15 PM  

I got bored one day.

By Blogger FerfeLaBat, at 3:16 PM  

LOL Ferfe. You would.

Good one, Rhonda! And I've seen your business plan. It's impressive!

By Blogger Sela Carsen, at 3:17 PM  

For me, there was no in between.

I've always had this thought in the back of my head that I COULD be a writer, but it wasn't until a few years ago that I bought/studied some books on how to write romance, sat at my computer and pounded out 50K words in about 4 months.

It was garbage, but I wrote it, and I was a writer. I've been a writer ever since!

By Blogger Elle Fredrix, at 3:23 PM  

It's funny, Sela, because I'm one of those ones who really did, at the age of three, say "I'm gonna be a writer." At that point, I understood the process of using words to create stories and visions and sharing them with others. (I was a smart, antisocial kid. Writing was perfect for me)

However, a LOT of naysaying put a serious crimp in the plans when I started high school. I needed to do 'something reasonable', and I had no idea what that might be. I'd spent my life to that point planning to Be A Writer.

Sometime during high school, I stopped. that's when I wanted to be a lawyer/astronaut/actress/businesswoman/psychologist.

I've had a few false starts over the last ten years...where I was a writer-who-was-not-writing. And now, finally, I've started acting like a three-year-old again ;) About a year and a half ago, I decided I needed to take myself seriously.
Four books, four submissions, (one pending) and three contracts later...I'm starting to think I might be a writer. Maybe.

By Blogger Dayna_Hart, at 3:37 PM  

oh! as for when did I first pound out words for the purpose of publication...that'd be grade seven on a school trip, and I lost the durned notebook it was in on the bus home. NOT amused. I didn't write for that purpose again until I wrote You Again last year :)

By Blogger Dayna_Hart, at 3:39 PM  

I really did want to become a writer when I was a kid! I did lots of it, too! But I'd say that I became a writer about four years ago when I wrote my first romantic spanking story and sold it to my publisher!


By Blogger Paige Tyler, at 3:59 PM  

I started my first novel lying in a hammock in a treehouse on the slopes of Mt Ranier in late June, 2003. I'd written forever, but that was the moment I decided I was going to not only start, but finish a novel!

Woot! It's been a wild ride ever since.

By Blogger Debbie Mumford, at 3:59 PM  

In high school and college I worked on the student newspaper staff and in college, I got a gig doing features and reviews for the local paper there. The features and reviews editor happened to be a former editor at People magazine and did freelance for Rolling Stone. And he liked my work. ::shock::

That was when I realized I could be a real writer, I could really make it happen.

But the fiction was something I thought about and never did much of anything with, until a friend of mine suggested I stop talking about writing fiction and just do it. LOL

About that same time, another friend got published and was into this new sub-genre romance blend, called erotic romance or romantica.

I read her book, then read about ten others from her publisher, and some others, and was hooked. So I sat down to write and penned Cup of Fate.

I was shocked to my toes when it won a contest, and the prize was a publishing contract! Squee! :P

That was a little over a year ago, and man, what a fast ride it's been. :)

So now, I guess I can call myself a writer. :D

By Blogger Cassandra, at 4:42 PM  

I'd written things ever sine my teens and sent my first sub to M&B in my twenties. Then my health deteriorated and I had my children. Just before I was forty I had a health scare that made me realize that NOW was the time, if ever I was to do it. I joined the RNA and started submitting, gained Jessica Raymond as my wonderful, super-talented cp and that was it.

By Blogger Nell Dixon, at 4:50 PM  

I used to write short stories in high school to pass the time during summers, and because I always had a fertile imagination. However, I didn't really think seriously about being published and learning craft until about 15 years ago. I didn't see an ounce of encouragement from anyone other than my husband until about 2004.


By Blogger MK Mancos/Kathleen Scott, at 4:57 PM  

When I was little I played w/ my grandma's old typewriter and made my own newspapers. I filled notebook after notebook w/ a love story involving all of my friends and the members of Duran Duran when I was a teen. I still have those dreadful notebooks...

I was on the high school and college newspaper, worked for my hometown newspaper, wrote articles for my old employer that were published in trade magazines. I was writing but I never considered myself a true WRITER. I'd dabble and start something but I never finished it.

In the summer of '05 I finally got serious. Decided I needed to actually finish something and so I did. I've sold quite a few, also had quite a few rejected and I'm still growing and learning. But now I truly consider myself a writer. :)

By Blogger Karen Erickson, at 6:22 PM  

I first put fingers to keyboard after my mother died back in 1998. She'd always told me I should write. She swore that even in grade school I wrote so easily. So, as an homage to her memory, and as many do, I started with fanfic. I wrote an X-Files novel (one of her fav shows) that was based in my hometown. As you might guess, it's still on the shelf. But it was a good plot and I might still try to salvage it.

Now, I didn't know a thing about publishing. Didn't know agents wouldn't take on a tie-in novel from a newbie. That just doesn't happen. But the agents who read it were encouraged enough to ask me to try again if I wrote something original.

So I decided to "cheat" one more time, by using the world a friend created in her books and build a character in her world (fanfic of a different sort!) That story turned out to be Hunter's Moon, our first paranormal romance, and my friend wound up being my co-author for everything else.

Life is good. Writing is better. :)

By Blogger cathy clamp, at 6:25 PM  

When I was 18 I tried to write and submit a novel, but didn't know enough about it and didn't have the willpower and self-discipline I do now (12 years later, if that tells you anything ;)). It was only about three years ago that I decided I was going to persevere until I was published, no matter what. Now I can say for sure I'm a writer.

By Blogger Emma_Sanders, at 7:05 PM  

It basically started with a dare for me. In the summer of 2005, Army Guy and I were talking about what I was going to do the next fall when Bubba started school and I said always thought I'd get to write when the kids were all in school. And he called bs, said I could write with one home or three and the only thing holding me back was...me. Then he agreed that yeah maybe I couldn't do it, which of course pissed me off. So I took the next six weeks and wrote Until Death. After many many incarnations it is finally under consideration. Y'all cross your fingers. ;)

By Blogger Loribelle Hunt, at 7:48 PM  

I fantasized about being a best selling author from the time I was a preteen - my fantasy job was always 'novelist' - even though I wrote while dreaming of doing it for a living from the time I was 10, I don't think I became a "WRITER" until a few years ago when I submitted my first manuscript. That's when I decided this was something I was going to do to make my dream come true, not just to fuel my fantasies while I pursued a more "realistic" job.

By Blogger Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan, at 8:04 PM  

Hrm. I've wanted to be a writer since I was 11. I wrote lots of short stories all through junior high and high school. I wrote my first novel at 18, a terrible historical romance that I actually had the balls to sub to NY agents and everything. I never heard back and promptly gave up.

I kept writing, several started but never finished novels, then turned to fanfic and roleplay writing. That's how I met my co-author. We wrote jointly for fanfics and roleplay and realized we had something special in the way we clicked and one day it just became "Why the heck aren't we *really* writing together?" and one thing led to another and in November of 2005 we got serious and started a novel together and two and a half months later we had 164k words of something very special. That became Bee Among The Clover and will be published by Freya's Bower in September.

So it wasn't the end of 2005 that I began writing seriously with publication in mind, unless you count the novel when I was 18 (14 years ago ack).

By Anonymous Fae Sutherland, at 8:10 PM  

I've had poetry published since high school but poetry seems to come natural for me, it flows from me with little to no effort on my part. I've never really had to work at that.

Novel writing, on the other hand, takes effort and it fulfills me. I started doing that last summer and finished my first MS in October.

By Blogger Danielle, at 8:41 PM  

I wanted to be an author quite young, but listened to everyone who told it would never happen. So... I'm not sure. I had a couple of false starts, I'd say, before I found my way, but the dream was there from about age 8.

By Blogger Sandra Ruttan, at 9:43 PM  

Aside from the childhood dreams, high school writing classes and all that "I Wanna Be A Writer" crap, I seriously began my career two years ago. One of my better decisions. ;)

By Anonymous Jenifer Bianco, at 10:35 PM  

NaNoWriMo 2004. :)

By Blogger Angelle Trieste, at 2:51 AM  

I was concocting stories in utero. I was.

By Blogger Rebecca, at 6:20 AM  

Good post.
Important differences between "writing" and "a writer" as a focused aim, Sela.
Probably back when I was about 16-17 in college and won a nice prize and had something genuinely published.
But it was poetry.
Not sure "poet" counts.

By Blogger Bernita, at 7:23 AM  

I think the first time I thought about it was about 6 years ago. I dabbled. I had a subscription to RT and the boards, and that's where I found Ann Peach.

I remember Ferfe's articles in RT too, but I didn't know her then.

Anyway, I think about 4 years ago I started to work at it, and it was a gradual incline, the more I did it, the more I loved it and now I consider myself a writer. Serious drive set in about 2 years ago.

I started to save my sanity.

By Blogger Eva Gale, at 9:47 AM  

I don't know.

I never wear WRITER on my T-shirt.

I just tell people I'm a pig farmer.
Gets the conversation going.


By Blogger ivan, at 11:11 AM  

I decided to become a writer the day I started wanting to rewrite author's works. When my ideas became so clear I could think where they should take their story next. Or, the day I started asking myself "what if..."

I had begun working home, had extra time on my hands and did alot of reading. The day I became a writer was sometime around the first of february, 2006. The day the dreams in my head became words on a computer.

By Blogger Teresa D'Amario, at 8:26 PM  

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