Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Secret Life of a Writer

I was born when writing romance novels were basically considered trash. Yep, romance was trash. Can you believe that? One of the most fundamental things in a person's life is finding a mate and marrying, and yet romance was trash, published in magazines that were of the same caliber.

So, yeah, we've come a long way baby!

But back to those days. I hinted at wanting to be a writer when I realized I could write a essay well. When I realized my imagination. Now, unlike some, my dream of being a writer was obscure to say the least.

Then the voices started. It was sometime after I saw my first movie. Now I realize that most of you have seen many movies, but you gotta realize that movies came into my life around the 1950's. Even though the 50's were a wonderful time to grow up, writing romance back then was not a desired field.
But for years after I saw my first movie as a teenager, with other teenagers, Blue Denim, I began to have those voices in my head. At first not knowing what to do with them, I acted them out in the backyard with my friends who thought I was a little crazy at the time. Jungle Jim and Tarzan were inspiration. I think one of the very first movies I saw was Gone With the Wind, but I obviously didn't pay much attention to it then. Either that or it stuck in my head so bad, romance was planted, who knows.

However, my parents hadn't a clue that deep inside me was a romance writer
In high school I wrote a book. My first. It was a Swiss Family Robinson kind of book, written more in the style of the Count of Monte Cristo. Friends found out and wanted to read it. I loaned it out, and it never came back to me. After getting over the shock, I shrugged and decided I would just write another one some day. I never rewrote that one. And back then I didn't have a copy of it, because I couldn't afford the paper or carbon.

Now you'd think I'd rush out and write another one, right away, wouldn't you? I didn't. Life seemed to get in the way because my parents moved a lot. I never went to the same school twice so to speak. I was the new kid on the block most of my life. Hated it.

Still, during those years, I barely wrote anything. I did manage to write a short story and send it to Redbook Magazine. Naturally it was rejected. I had no idea the long drawn out process of learning to write. It still didn't deter me. I kept on writing, because that is what a real writer does, keeps on keeping on.

I wrote off and on for years, stuck the manuscripts in my desk drawer, and said, "Maybe someday."
At thirty, after I had married my second husband and had two children, I went to a writers meet and got more interested. Came home, began writing more seriously and still tucked my work into my desk. Someday, I told myself.

It wasn't until I married my third husband that I really buckled down to writing. He was such an encouragement to me. So I joined a writing circle and began to take myself seriously since this voice thing wasn't going to go away.

It took a lifetime to learn all I needed to know, and still I'm learning something new all the time. You see I learned to use a computer, use a Word program, then I learn to format into e-formats. That came along when a e-writer came to a conference to talk about ebooks. Boy was I interested in this. So I began submitting to e-publishers, and I became published.

You'd think that would be that, writing for an e-publisher, but self-publishing evolved into it's own and I was even more enthusiastic. I learned to format my manuscript, l learned to make my own covers, I learned to put them on line, and let me tell you, all that sounds so simple but it wasn't for a seat of the pants kind of person who really did have to learn it herself.

Today, after more than fifty years of writing, I support myself. I'm not rich, I'm not even famous. I'm just a writer. But it didn't fall in my lap. I had to earn it. With God's help I did learn and get self published.

So the next time you hear someone ask, "How do you know you are a writer?" Well, if you keep on writing despite the rejections. If you keep on writing despite the critics, if you keep on writing and even shoving your work into a drawer, you ARE a writer. A writer is someone who writes no matter the outcome. A writer keeps on learning all their life, and someday with God's help it starts to pay off.

Don't get me wrong, some people have a quick success. I wasn't that lucky. But I was lucky enough to know that I really was a writer. It was never an easy road for me. It was a struggle. Despite the fact that until my third husband came along, I had little support, I continued to write. I learned not to tell anyone I was a writer. It took years to accomplish what I did, and most of the people that didn't believe I'd ever make it are gone. But God and I know I'm a writer. Not the best, not the worst, but a writer! And God knows it has fulfilled my life's dream.

The first book I published was Pretend Mom, not the first one I ever wrote, but the first one to make it as a real book. This isn't the original cover, but it is such an improvement. Pretend Mom is a sentimental journey about a girl going home after some years, after she's made a success of herself, and yet rediscovering herself.


Tina Donahue said...

Great post, Rita. Filled with wisdom. :)

Redameter said...

We all have a path to follow and it can be a long journey or a short one. God bless Tina

jean hart stewart said...

So glad you followed your dreams. Your books make the struggled worthwhile.

Fiona McGier said...

Yup, the voices won't be quiet until you write their story down. Then the next voices start to fill your head with visions. I know that feeling well. Like you said, you know when you're a writer. Glad to be a part of this great sisterhood!