QOTW: When Did You Know You Were Meant To Be A Writer?

26 Mar

This week’s QOTW comes from Pri, who asks:

I’m currently struggling over my aspirations to be an author and I was wondering: when did you realise you were meant to be an author?

~~~

I didn’t realize I wanted to be a writer until I was 11 or 12 years old. I’d always loved books, but it wasn’t until I read three books–SABRIEL by Garth Nix, THE HERO AND THE CROWN by Robin McKinley, and WIT’CH FIRE by James Clemens–that I realized I wanted to write them.

The realization that I COULD write them didn’t happen until a little while later–when I was cleaning my room one afternoon, and on a whim, put on my mom’s album for the score of the SWAN LAKE ballet. As I listened, totally transfixed by the music, I literally SAW things–stories that needed writing, characters that needed the breath of life. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to a religious/spiritual epiphany. I detailed that moment in my blog a while ago.

But it took several years after that–not until I’d been actively posting QoG on FP for a while–that I realized I wanted to be PUBLISHED. I actually heard the piece from SWAN LAKE that got my writing juices flowing just yesterday, and may or may not have cried when I remembered that 12 year-old girl in her room, her knees curled to her chest, realizing that she had to put her ideas down on paper.

-The Writer Who Just Landed Her First Book Deal!

~~~

After I had written a bunch of books. No, really. I started writing on fictionpress becuase it seemed like fun and something to do. It was several books in before I considered myself “a writer” and a couple of years before I really told anyone about it. I’d been writing for 3 years before I had the epiphany moment of wanting to be published.

I don’t know that I ever decided/knew I was “meant” to be published. Publishing is a business, and a hard one to break into. I just decided I didn’t care how many rejections I had and how long it took, that I was in it for the  long haul.

-The Writer/Literary Agent with Another Book Deal!

~~~

I don’t think I ever knew I was meant to be a writer. I think it just came to me. I grew up as an only child, without pets, with friends who constantly ditched me and parents that worked full times. I needed to do SOMETHING to keep myself occupied. So I told myself stories and played imaginary games. And once I learned that a writer was an actual job (I think I was 7 at the time), I declared I was going to be one. Then at 9, I decided I was going to be the next J.K. Rowling. That hasn’t happened…yet.

I think that writing is something that is a part of me and I will always be a writer, published or not published, because it is something I love to do. To me, writing is about the actual action whether or not anyone besides me sees it. I’m meant to be a writer in the sense that it is something I love doing, not making a career out of.

– The Writer Writing Her Second Novel

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Being a published author is something I used to dream about when I was a little kid.  Of course, I also wanted to be a pop star, an artist, and probably Queen for the Day, too!

I’m not sure when I realized I had the itch to write.  I guess, at some point, I caught on to the fact that I was a book-a-holic, and when I read lots of books they gave me ideas for stories of my own. But I was young.  I remember being devastated that I didn’t win the school writing contest in the third grade, because I’d slaved over that manuscript!  lol.

– The Writer Who Just Got An Agent

~~~

To be perfectly honest, writing to me was a hobby until I finished the first draft of my novel, about a year and a bit ago. It wasn’t until then that I actually realized how much it meant to me, and I was hit with the full knowledge of what it meant to have an ending. Finishing it, even though it was only the first draft and extremely rough, was the most inspirational thing that’s ever happened to me in terms of writing, and also the reason I dropped math :).

-The Writer Revising Her First Novel

~~~

My aspiration to become an author came gradually. I began writing because I couldn’t help it. It was my guilty pleasure. But as I grew up writing was no longer a “hobby” done out of pure entertainment for myself alone. It had become something much more important to me. I had opinions and beliefs that were demanding to be shared. Writing became my best tool for communication. I wrote better than I spoke. And then I was introduced to the publishing world through other writers and a bit of research. I didn’t know it existed before then. So yes. Realization came gradually.

-The Writer Who Got a Full Request

~~~

I’ve always been interested in the arts; and throughout my childhood, I claimed that I wanted to be an artist, or a dancer, or a figure skater, or an author. I’ve always loved to write. I didn’t have a sudden epiphany one day that I was meant to be a writer; but my love of writing has led me to where I am today. The decision to write wasn’t really a decision because it was just something I loved to do. The thought of becoming an author just comes from knowing that I want to share what I write with the rest of the world one of these days. And while I don’t plan on making writing my career, I certainly do hope that one day I can switch from calling myself a writer, to calling myself an author.

– The Writer Writing Her First Book

~~~

I was in about 4th grade when I realized that I wanted to write ‘some day.’ I was a complete book addict (in middle and high school I went through two books A DAY), so it was only natural that I would eventually want to create my own stories. Now, when I actually started calling myself a writer, that was a different story. I got into writing by making fan fictions for the Animorphs series and posting them on FanFiction.net. Yes, you heard correctly. These were glorious times for me; I was full of inspiration and adored these characters, was getting great reviews and generally enjoying the heck out of myself. Then, in 8th grade, I realized that I was spending a lot of time writing work that could never be published, and I needed to be working on my own, original material. Soon after the idea for Antebellum struck, and I was off, writing my first novel.

But I didn’t start calling myself a writer. No, writing was a confusing, emotional, inspiration-driven thing for me, and I often had no idea where the plot was going or what my characters were going to do next. School had always taught me that you have to have a plan, and an outline, and drafts, etc., and I wasn’t doing that AT ALL. So, I didn’t think that I was a real writer.

The turning point for me came after I read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. The story itself was interesting, but the author’s notes at the end are what really changed my life. Bradbury said something to the effect of he just follows his characters around and writes down what they do.

Suddenly, I knew. I knew there were others out there like me. And I knew that if Ray Bradbury did it, then it was perfectly okay for me to do it as well. From that day onward I called myself a writer.

-The Writer Waiting on Submissions

~~~

Audience, when did YOU know you were meant to be a writer?

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25 Responses to “QOTW: When Did You Know You Were Meant To Be A Writer?”

  1. cgwriter March 26, 2010 at 9:59 AM #

    I actually didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until High School. I wrote stories when I was younger than that and started on FF.net in 8th Grade writing some pretty terrible Yu Yu Hakusho fanfiction (though I got some good reviews). I started touching on other shows and even dabbled in some of my own original stuff on FP.com, but I was pretty timid. It wasn’t until my Freshman year of HS I wrote my first semi-decent original short story, a songfic based on Incubus’s “I Miss You”.

    I worked from there and struggled a lot with the idea of being a writer–mostly because I was too critical of my own work and I had people gently discouraging me, essentially saying it’s no way to pay the bills–until I got together with my Senior Year boyfriend. He was pretty terrible, but something good came out of all of the fights and my inability to sustain friendships outside of our relationship: several short stories and poems I was actually PROUD of.

    My first novel didn’t happen until I stumbled across NaNoWriMo. I participated and won in 2008, and hope to do so again soon. Though my first novel is really rough and kind of silly …. I think it has some potential. Somewhere. 😛

    • Kat March 26, 2010 at 11:39 AM #

      Your story sounds frighteningly similar to mine! Well, other than the boyfriend, I suppose… We even share the Yu Yu Hakusho fanfiction and the NaNoWriMo win in 2008 : )

      • cgwriter March 26, 2010 at 3:06 PM #

        Hah! Maybe we read each others’ work !

  2. priscillashay March 26, 2010 at 10:13 AM #

    At first I wanted to be a nurse..because my mom’s a nurse. Then, I wanted to be an artist because..I saw my dad doing it, thought I’d try it, and it turns out I’m somewhat decent (hence my chibi drawing on FB). Then, I wanted to be a lawyer, a teacher, a social worker. My list goes on.

    But, it wasn’t until 3 years ago when I was writing essays for college applications, finished, and had nothing else to do.

    In June’s interview, I answered where I got the idea for my story. But, even before that, I simply had nothing to do and decided to try writing. I kept writing and I shared it with my friends thinking, why not? We could all use a good laugh. But, the only reason I kept writing and finished the story was because my friends kept pushing me and hounding me to finish the story.

    It wasn’t until I actually finished (which was around..last year October?) that I realized I HAD to write. For however many days,months, years, I spent on WW, the impact didn’t hit me until I thought I was done with them…and felt empty.

    I had nothing to do. I didn’t think I spent that much time thinking about my characters and plot. But, apparently I did because the days moved slower, I would get distracted easily (faster than I normally do). *shrug* Now, I guess I have to do it.

  3. Kayleigh March 26, 2010 at 10:19 AM #

    To Sarah: I read your blog post you linked and I have to say the thing that inspires me and makes me love writing is other people’s stories. When I watch a good movie or read a good movie, I’m completely overwhelmed with the character’s lives, emotions and problems and all I want to do is write a novel that will make somebody else feel that way. For the novel I’m currently writing, I want somebody to feel the way I felt while watching Buffy season 7. And the book that helped me get over my 2 month writer’s block is “Shift” by Rachel Vincent. While reading it I realized I needed to write. I just had to.

    Now to answer the actual question.

    I was 13 and a half. It was during the Christmas holidays, a few days before Christmas. For fun, I began writing a fanfic for my best friend. Then she told me about this book and it gave me an idea for a book of my own. And so I began writing. I’m 16 now and I love writing more than ever.

    Even then I just knew that I would always be writing. It became a part of me so quickly.

    To Rachel: Exactly! That’s why when people ask what I want to do/be later, I kind of hesitate. I don’t want to BE a writer when I grow up, I already AM one.

    • svonnah March 26, 2010 at 10:27 AM #

      That used to bother me SO much when I was younger. People asked me what I wanted to do when I was older, and I told them I was already doing what I wanted to do. I WAS a writer.

      One guy had the audacity to argue with me! He said, ‘No, you want to BE a writer.’ And I said, ‘No, I AM a writer.’

      • Biljana March 26, 2010 at 10:57 PM #

        Wow…lol what douches. Good on you both for standing up to them.

        Kayleigh I know exactly what you mean about getting inspiration through other creative medias. Even just seeing people I care about doing what they love makes me want to sit down and write. Hearing success stories and reading awesome things gives me this warm feeling and just this crazy need to accomplish as much as they did, not because of some competitive nature (although I do have one :P) but because if reading someone else’s work could make me so excited, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like reading my own stuff, and in print.

  4. Rowenna March 26, 2010 at 11:15 AM #

    I was probably five or so. And I knew I wanted to be a writer all through growing-up years. And then I decided that was silly and not a real job and waffled through thinking I wanted to do everything from law to teaching to being a lady warden in a prison (guess which one isn’t true). And then I graduated with a liberal arts degree and started working and then I knew…I wanted to write. And it didn’t feel so silly anymore.

    Isn’t it funny how we knew things when we were young?

  5. Kat March 26, 2010 at 11:37 AM #

    Like a lot of other people, i got my start in fanfiction–terrible, terribly, script format fanfiction that were blatant rip-offs of other people’s stories, haha. Good thing I was ten and didn’t share them with anyone but my best friend (who, as my best friend, was obligated to tell me they were great!).

    My transition into original fiction was actually pretty smooth–my fanfiction started getting more and more AU and OOC until I gave it up altogether and started creating my own characters from scratch.

    Little by little, I realized I spend half my life writing, or thinking about, or talking about my stories, and it’s all history from there…

    • priscillashay March 26, 2010 at 3:41 PM #

      oh! for people who start in FanFiction…Tess Dare (she published her debut Triology last year) is a historical/regency romance author and she started by writing FanFiction. She even has a link to some of her old work on her site 🙂

  6. Anthony March 26, 2010 at 2:04 PM #

    To quote Priscilla, it wasn’t until very recently that “I realized I HAD to write.”

    I “discovered” I was meant to write only four months ago! English was always my strong subject and I read often, but I was much more interested in science because it was interesting, yes, but I had been told by parents/teachers/relatives that there was no career in writing and I’d probably end up living in my car (that scared the hell out of my 12-year-old self).

    This summer, I read The Awakening by Kate Chopin and some of the language in that book brought tears to my eyes (I know, totally embarrassing). I sat there and said to myself “…What the hell am I doing?” I had attempted writing novels in middle school and early high school but they eventually succumbed to SNDS because they were overworked and too dramatic.

    But this summer I got my first taste of what it means to be a writer. I’m sure you can all relate, but these characters, these people I had created began whispering in my head. Even when I tried to ignore them, they consumed my thoughts. I put their voices to paper and felt relieved. But just when I thought it was over, even more characters thought they’d share what was on their (or my) mind. At some point I was like “This can’t be normal.”

    So this past December, I decided to declare myself an English major: a real shock to my parents who anticipated Pre-med. I have completely submersed myself into this world and with each step, I only feel more confident that I made the (write) choice. Three cheers for destiny.

    • svonnah March 26, 2010 at 2:07 PM #

      I got scared with the ‘starving writer’ speech too, but while it’s certainly possible, though hard, to live on just writing when you’re a noob, it’s more common to work at another job while you write. And that way you have a backup career too 🙂

      That’s why I switched out of English as my major. I figured; I can write already, why get a pointless degree? So I’m going for business because I love corporate culture. And now I have something to fall back on if it turns out I’m not marketable 🙂

      • cgwriter March 26, 2010 at 3:16 PM #

        I don’t think English is a POINTLESS degree, but I get what you mean by that 😉 haha.

        I’m actually an English major, but I’m taking it because I feel I need help with my writing. Plus, I literally get to go to school to read books and plays and poems. Yum.

        The good thing about that is that English is a pretty broad subject and you can do a few things with it. I’m working toward a career as a Lit Agent, though. :]

      • priscillashay March 26, 2010 at 3:39 PM #

        haha…I’m a Creative Writing Major and I’m thinking about dropping my Sociology major down to a minor because I’m more interested in Writing.

  7. Rachel Simon March 26, 2010 at 3:48 PM #

    I just would like to say, Animorphs fan fiction FTW because thats how I got my start too! 🙂

  8. Aly March 26, 2010 at 5:00 PM #

    I loved reading everyone’s responses to this question. 🙂

    Oh, I’m Aly, by the way. I’ve been stalking this blog for like… a week now. Haha.

    Anyway, I was wondering if it’s possible for me to submit a question for Question of the Week. I’m not sure how that works at all.

    Thanks!

    • svonnah March 26, 2010 at 5:01 PM #

      Definitely. There’s a link at the top that says QOTW. If you click on that, you can comment on the page and submit your question.

  9. Samantha W March 26, 2010 at 6:44 PM #

    I’ve known since I was 14, when characters started forming in my mind, and began living their stories without my even trying. I never really considered pursuing writing with an English/Creative writing degree, because I didn’t know what else I would enjoy doing with that sort of degree if writing fell through (plus, I really hate having to write essays on topics I have no interest in. But I figured you don’t have to have a degree to write, so I could still write, and have a back-up degree (lol, is an art related degree really a smart back-up?).

  10. Gabriela da Silva March 26, 2010 at 6:50 PM #

    I decided I’d be a writer when I was about six and Santa Claus didn’t bring me the magic powers I asked for. Instead, Santa left a letter for me in which he said he couldn’t give me magical powers because then he’d have to give them to every boy and girl, so instead, I should write about magical powers.

    The letter was written in ancient Greek, I kid you not. Mom had to take me to a researcher at her college to translate it for me. It seemed to me that if Santa had said so, aand in ancient Greek no less, it’d made sense.

    I wrote my first collection of stories then and there. They were about the adventures of a little chick living at a farm. I illustrated it too!

    I “renewed my vows” when I was in 4th grade, and the teacher scolded me like this: “Gaby, I know you want to be a writer, but you have to learn math or people will think you’re stupid!”
    My answer was to ace her stupid test, write “I write even better” and then forget about fractions.

    I wrote my first “novel” when I was eleven/twelve, and kept writing ever since. But I didn’t consider myself A Writer until I published my first novel.

    So I wasn’t a writer until last year, at least for me!

    • Biljana March 26, 2010 at 11:05 PM #

      Hahahaha that’s so amazing!! What a great story. Ancient Greek…awesome :D.

      I actually remember the first story I tried to write. I was in senior kindergarten, and I wanted it to start with the word “The”. Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to spell the word “The”, so the class time that we had to write it was spent pestering the “smart girl” about it who wouldn’t tell me because I hadn’t shared a bit of my snack with her. I remember looking at the clock and feeling anxious and everything, because I wouldn’t be able to finish in time, and no *way* would I even *dream* of continuing the story without knowing the proper spelling. To this day I have no clue what the hell I wanted to write about. Probably something about snacks and “smart girls” being mean :P.

      Thankfully, I am now literate, and beginning a story is no longer a problem.

      ….Until I start thinking about the plot.

  11. Praya March 26, 2010 at 8:21 PM #

    It’s so funny to see how different everyone’s epiphany is!

    I wrote my first ‘novel’ at 10 because it was an assignment at school. (It was sixteen pages. I remember at the time I couldn’t believe I’d written something so epic).

    I’ve always LOVED English and writing (I’m still devastated that I’m studying neither at uni, damn fear of being a starving writer again) but I guess I first realised was a writer after reading fan fiction. (More specifically of the James and Lily kind). My friend got me into this awesome James and Lily story (which the writer never finished and subsequently took down, apparently it was really similar to some anime story. Still, I thought it was fantastic. I even spent hours reading it to my friend over the phone because she was too lazy to read it. Haha). Just reading that set my imagination on fire. So I wrote a James and Lily fic of my own. The only people who read it were a few friends and a girl who used to sit with us in science. Every period she’d ask me if I’d written any more, with this intense excitement I could barely believe was possible. She even told me to send it to JK Rowling, and that she had no doubt it would be published! Haha it was NO where near that good and I would NEVER send it to JKR, I think I’d die of embarrassment, and then die again. But her enthusiasm got me hooked, and I realised for the first time, hey I’ve actually got something special going on here, and I’ve never stopped writing since. Aw.

  12. Angela March 27, 2010 at 7:15 AM #

    I’ve always been a bookworm when I was little, and my school has this award for the person in the grade who read the most books and passed this certain test for it or something like that. I won the award two years in a row, and I would have won again if I hadn’t moved away. My dad was in the military, and we constantly moved around. I was pretty lonely in school, so I read a lot to make up for it.

    I started reading fanfiction when I was 12 or 13. When I was fourteen I had to move to Japan and learn Japanese, which was the hardest period of my life. My family had no money, so I reread and cherished every book I had. After a year, my mom bought a computer, and I went back on fanfiction.net, which is how I discovered fictionpress. I discovered Sarah’s Queen of Glass story, and I fell in love with it. I wanted to write that good and be able to blow people away.

    I started writing a few stories, which never worked out. I’m still experimenting around, and I’m sure I won’t become a published writer in the near future. Basically, I write as a way to burn of steam. Believe me, living in Japan and having to attend a normal Japanese school isn’t fun.

    I’m starting college, and my department conducts all of its classes in English. Sadly, no colleges have creative writing majors in English, but my department has a creative writing class, which I will definitely take. I’m planning on majoring in international relations, to satisfy my mom who worries that I won’t be able to get a job.

    After that, I can study whatever I want, so I’m hoping to be able to go back to the United States to improve my English writing skills.

    Well, I haven’t decided if I want to be a writer since I’m afraid of starving, but I’m considering the next best thing: translating. It would be so cool to be able to translate Japanese books and movies into English.

  13. Merc March 27, 2010 at 1:19 PM #

    I think I was 11 or 12, and I was obssessed with Brian Jacques’ Redwall books. But I didn’t like how there were not good animals in the species I liked (e.g. ferrets–I had ferrets, and I was offended they were almost always evil in the books ;)). So I decided I would write my own stories, or rewrite the Redwall stories the way I thought they should be.

    It was a terrible mix of ripoff and fanfic at first, but I enjoyed it so much, I kept writing, and over the years I branched out and focused mostly on my original fiction. I think it wasn’t until 2004 I decided I wanted to do this writer thing a little more seriously, and started learning craft and how to finish what I started.

    It’s cool seeing how everyone else got started, too. 😀

  14. A. Barone March 27, 2010 at 2:20 PM #

    I’ve always had an over active imagination that probably comes from the fact that I wasn’t the most well-liked child in my classes. Due to this fact I always used to read. I would read at recess, during lunch. I would read whenever I could. I feel like I spent years and years reading YA fiction.

    During this time I also used to write. Whenever we had journals (at least in grade three) I would write stories instead. Creative writing assignments were always my favourite though from grades six to eight writing was awkward for me. I tried writing a sailor moon fanfiction and posted that online. It wasn’t very good but it was a story that I finished.

    Then came highschool and a whole new voice. I completed my first story ever and though it has gone through a re-write I was immensly proud of it. In grade 11 instead of writing a story that was four pages long, mine was fourteen pages long. In grade 12 I took writers craft and had to expand my genre of writing. It was during this time that I wrote my first NaNo novel which while being good, isn’t completed.

    Then I moved onto university and discovered Stargate Atlantis. I loved the characters so much that I began writing abou them. I could hear their voices in my head and my ff.net page is filled with stories about them (and others). And while for the past five years I’ve been working on my own writing, completing three novels (one of which is being queried to agents) I can only say that I’ve always considered myself to be a writer. I write because of my overactive imagination. Because there are stories and characters and bits of dialogue up there that HAVE to come out.

    And I know that I’ve been rambling on…but I hope that it makes a little bit of sense.

  15. Caitlin March 27, 2010 at 8:56 PM #

    as possibly the only person following this that doesn’t really have writerly aspirations, can I talk about knowing I didn’t want to be an author?

    Sort of like many of you have always known you were writers, I’ve always known I didn’t want to be an author. I’ve always been a voracious reader and when I was little many people (parents, teachers, best friend’s parents, etc) asked me if I wanted to be an author when I grew up. I always said no, I loved reading books but I didn’t want to write them. That being said, one of the reasons they said these things was because reading all those books made me good at writing, at least for my age and at least at the school type writing.

    In high school two things happened: I was in speech for a year and when trying to decide which category I’d be in my coach recommended a few categories based on my voice and tone and I chose Informative. I love love loved it, but in my mind it was one of the least writerly of the categories. Then I took the time to read something my 2.5 years younger sister had written and realized that she writes better than I would ever write.

    I stand by my decision, I don’t want to have any fiction stories I write be published, that being said, in high school I also realized that I am aces at writing essays, so maybe someday I’ll do something creative non-fiction oriented.

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