Daddy's Christmas Angel

Monday, January 27, 2014

When Does a Writing Career Begin?

"When did you start writing?" In interviews, whether radio, television, newspaper, or blog, that question is usually asked at some point.

I most often answer, "I've been writing forever."

As I think about it, I always enjoyed writing lengthy answers on test papers in school. In high school, I wrote short stories, was school reporter for the local newspaper and editor of the school newspaper. In early adulthood, I stumbled accidentally into a freelance writing job for a city newspaper. Although I was busy writing and had a small but steady newspaper income, I never dreamed of becoming a novelist. That happened completely by accident.

When our youngest daughter was 14, I received a call from the local community college, inviting her to participate in a creative writing class they were offering. A gifted writer, she was recommended for the class by her high school English teachers. Since the college was 10 miles away and she wasn't old enough to drive, I decided to take her. Because I would be at the school with her, I enrolled in the class with her.

I loved the class; I loved the instructor; I started a novel. My daughter was less impressed and did not continue after that quarter, but I stuck with it. I wrote my novel and had each part of it critiqued along the way. The instructor, the late Jane Deringer, was inspiring. She got me involved in travel writing, a critique group, starting two writers clubs in the area, and much more.Years later, the novel I started in that class was published.

When did my writing career actually begin? Was it when I wrote a poem in third grade and was asked to recite it in front of the entire school? Was it when I won awards for my short stories in high school? Was it when I fell into the newspaper freelance job? Or was it when I met my mentor, Jane Deringer?

Perhaps it was each of those times.

Perhaps I became more of a writer at each rung of the ladder.

What about you? When did you become a writer?

8 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I like the ladder analogy. Every rung brings us closer.
I wrote some when I was a teen but forgot about it for a long time.

Michael Di Gesu said...

What a great story, Mary!

For me I remember writing poetry in grade school and though nothing of it. I was even branded the class poet. LOL.

I was much more interest in art at the time and followed that journey. In art college I wrote a few papers that my professor submitted for publication, but again I wasn't interested. IDIOT!

Oh, well, as my blog says...In Time...

I came back to writing with a vengeance four years ago when the economy cut my livelihood in interior design.

Now I do both... create art in various venues and write.

I'm currently working on a major rewrite for my second novel. Plus working on a film noir novella. I a have an excerpt up at my blog if you care to drop by...

Have a great week!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I became a writer in Jr. High, when I first began writing short stories.

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Thanks, Alex. You've become quite a writer now that you've remembered!

Michael, thank you so much for explaining some of your journey. Sometimes I think the journey can be more important than the end result!

Diane, I expect you were a writer long before that!

Bonnie A Kelly said...

I won first place for writing the best clean up week slogan in the third grade.
Guess that started it. My cousin said when they would come up and stay at our lakefront place in the summer and I was always off somewhere writing something. We lived there when I was 10 until I was 17.
High school journalism was another outlet for me, and I won several writing contests of varying kinds in school.
Ran my own small newspaper for 5 1/2 years in the 90s, won first place in a play writing contest for Santa Barbara County at that time.
My first book was nominated for the Peacemaker Award as the best new western of 2011 by Western Fictioneers, had a short story published in an anthology. And finally, my second book, another western, just came out this month.
And then there were the letters to friends that went on and on and on. My one friend saved them all and presented them to me on my 70th birthday. Wow! There it was the story of my life.
Guess I've been writing forever too. Never realized it until I just made this list.
Thanks for the memories.
Bonnie B.A. Kelly

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Wow, Bonnie! Thanks for the story of a writer's life. Guess there are many of us with similar stories to tell. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments! You should be very proud.

Julie Flanders said...

It's funny, I always loved writing papers in school, writing letters, etc, but never thought of myself as a writer. Not sure why it took so long to dawn on me that this was what I liked doing LOL. Love the ladder analogy.

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Thanks, Julie. Sometimes things are so easy for us, we don't realize that we have a special gift.