4th December 2011

Reflections on an interrupted writing career

Today we have a blog post by an author who is currently in the middle of her blog tour. So we welcome Gale and her words of reflection today.

When I was in grade school, I read dozens of Nancy Drew books. So many, in fact, that I was inspired to write my own mystery novel.  Back in the 1970s, we had an electric typewriter, but we still had to use correction fluid. So during summer vacation, I started to write my first mystery. I don’t have the original manuscript any longer. It was a few pages long. I was a terrible typist and the pages were filled with blobby white patches of dried White-Out. But I do remember that my viewpoint character “nimbly put her fingers between two cracks in the floorboard” and found a secret hidey-hole that contained a cigar box filled with jewels.  (The Mystery of the Jewel-Laden Cigar Box?)

Had I not read a lot of stories as a kid, I doubt I would have been inspired to write a word. So, here’s a   message I can’t emphasize enough. Writers have to be readers. If you want to be a writer, first, you really need to be a reader.

I can guess what you are thinking. Why would I want to be a writer when I can play basketball, when I can be a ballerina?

Here’s why I think you would get a lot of enjoyment from writing. While you are a child, there aren’t too many things you have complete control over.  Your parents can pretty much dictate what you can and cannot do until you turn eighteen. As a writer, you take charge of your story and all the characters in it. You make up what they say. You determine what they do. They can’t do a thing until you tell them to. So the question becomes, why wouldn’t you want to be totally in charge of one thing in your life?

As it turns out, I never did finish that book I started in grade school. I did adapt some books like David Copperfield into plays in the sixth grade and rehearsed them at recess with my friends. Then I began acting in plays and forgot all about writing stories for years.  I didn’t resume writing fiction until decades later. I had been teaching junior high English and spending a great deal of time and life energy convincing young teenagers to try their hand at fiction. And I decided to give it a go myself so that I could improve my ability as a teacher of fiction writing.

And I discovered that I’d loved writing. Once I started, I never stopped. I wrote dozens of stories, finished three books and started three others. This year, after writing non-stop for six years, I published my first novel that was loosely based on one of the first operas I saw.  

I do think writing stories is a matter of readiness. I didn’t have any teachers, believe it or not, who encouraged me to write more than a poem a year.  They did expect me to read a good bit but not to write. So, I believe writing readiness can be accelerated by teachers who assign creative writing and expect you to work to your potential.

It’s been a wonderful experience preparing and then seeing a book that I wrote being published. Nowadays, children and teens are publishing, too. And unlike other kinds of hobbies like basketball and ballet, one never ages out of the ability to write. The more you write, the better you get. And you can keep writing your whole life long.

So, if your teacher isn’t encouraging you to write stories, then ask your parents to hold you accountable. And keep reading, especially Martin King’s books. Because you can’t really be a great writer without being a great reader.

You can check out the rest of Gale’s tour by clicking on her name. Thanks for checking in.

By Gale Martin.

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