I'm writing this, my last blog post of the month of October, from my mother's house. With as many windows as this place has, and as many trees surround it, it seems like it was basically built for the express enjoyment of autumn. Autumn is my favorite season, and October is my favorite month (usually). There's something about the smell of wood fires and fresh-pressed cider that makes me a little nostalgic, even if I don't always know what it is I'm feeling nostalgic for. With that in mind, I thought I would offer this retrospective of some of the highlights from my writing career.
I use the words "highlights" and "career" with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Just saying.
I first decided to become an author when I was nine years old. I have long since forgotten exactly what prompted this decision, but unlike most of my other childhood ambitions, this one has never wavered. Other career options I considered during my youth were to become a minister, an English teacher, and the first female President of the United States. Turns out that I hate teaching, I hate politics even more, and -- well, I was a church secretary, so I did at least work in religion for a time. But I was writing all the while.
Very shortly after naming it my lifetime goal, I actually became a published author... as long as one subscribes to an extremely loose definition of the word published. Actually, what I did then is not entirely different from self-publishing in today's media world, except on a much smaller scale. I received a typewriter for Christmas that year, on which it was generally expected that I would hammer out a magnum opus. What I wrote instead was my first short story, a thrilling mystery starring myself, my sister, and several of our neighbors and my classmates. We were out to solve a recent ring of dognappings throughout our extremely small community, and ultimately discovered that the dogs had been stolen by a gang of thugs. The reason for the animal thefts was never explained, nor did I ever bother coming up with one. This story is memorable chiefly for the fact that the leader of this gang of thugs was an anthropomorphic tube of toothpaste.
I'm not even going to try to guess what freakish logic my younger self was employing here. I've long since forgotten and I think that may be for the best.
Anyway, the reason I say this was published is that my grandparents had just acquired a copy machine for their home office. It was an early-model copier, the kind that still required the use of carbon paper, and my grandmother (bless her goofy heart) decided that my story deserved to be copied and distributed to some of the neighbors and other relatives. So she ran off about ten copies, had me autograph them, and shared my genius with our extended acquaintance.
As may be expected, I was praised by the adults (if only for my spelling and punctuating skills) and mocked extensively by my peers, though at the same time they were laughing hysterically they were also asking to be in the sequel. There was a sequel, actually. We were assisted in our efforts to solve another mystery, concerning a genuinely haunted house and with no toothpaste anywhere, by the Ghostbusters, but I don't recall that one ever getting finished.
I continued writing, usually at my grandfather's typewriter, which was much bigger and cooler than my own. He saved everything I ever wrote, too, and gave it to me in a folder shortly before I was married. It was mostly short stories of varying quality, and poetry.
In high school I attempted to write a horror novel, and used the school as the setting. I recruited volunteers from among my classmates to serve as victims and had possibly the most deliciously morbid fun of my life constructing elaborate, disgusting deaths for them all. Oddly, I don't even like the horror genre, so I'm not sure what I was hoping to accomplish, but members of my graduating class declared me "Most Likely to Be the Next Tim Burton."
I started freelancing in my twenties, thanks to a college friend who worked as a magazine editor. She added me to their stable of regular freelancers, sending me completed interviews and having me turn them into articles. I also wrote my first book, Saving the World in Your Spare Time, which hasn't aged very well but hey, I wrote a book. I was even interviewed by CNN and got mentioned on their website, which kind of resulted in me screaming. (The book is about volunteering, and CNN was doing a very short piece on the subject.) The biggest deal about that whole thing was that it turned out to be the only book I completed before the deaths of my grandparents, so I was frankly just grateful they got to see it.
I've just completed a second book, although it's not really a showcase for my writing. God is in the Details is a small gift-size book of my photography, and is only available through its publisher, Lulu.com. I'm at work on a novel, though, and hope to have it finished by the end of the year; expect some shameless self-promotion when the time comes. If you'd like to see the photo book, just click on the handy link on the right where it says "Store!" and you'll be taken to my Lulu spotlight; click on the book to view it, and then click on it again to see some preview pages. It was just something I did for fun. Right now I'm trying a bunch of new things.
Like this blog. This was honestly just an experiment -- sort of What should I do now? combined with That looks like fun. And it really did seem like a good idea at the time. I must be doing something right, too, because Blogspot's stats have just informed me I'm on the verge of breaking 1,000 pageviews. That's much more than I expected or even hoped to get in the space of the first month! So thank you all for reading.