Saturday, April 28, 2012

This Writer's Journey

Once upon a time, not all that long ago really, this writer (me) knew nothing of writing and never even considered the possibility of publishing anything. I was doing good to come across a new book to read, which meant that I read what I had over and over. Oh sure, once in a great while I'd drag out some paper and write down a story, but that's all it was, and in truth it only happened a couple times and one of those got lost when we moved from one place on this river to another.

One day, sometime during the winter of 2000 I think, my son comes home with this rather new innovation, at least it certainly was for me. He brought me a little laptop computer. We had a computer upstairs (still do in fact), but it had been maxed out to 1G of memory and couldn't be upgraded any more. We got it to help the boys some with their school but mostly it was their toy. I never did much with it because it was upstairs and upstairs isn't just a stroll up a set of steps, it's a climb up a ladder and I really wasn't interested in playing with it all that much anyway. It is such a dinosaur compared to what I have today, or even compared to what my son brought home that day.

Well, now I had this 'toy' down here on the table. All it needed was plugged in and push a button and it turned on. The one upstairs needed at least one boot-up disk before it worked. Okay, so now that I had this thing, what does one do with a computer? Well, it had a keyboard. Did I remember any of my typing lessons from high school?

By coincidence, I had been writing another story on some notebook paper left over from when the kids went to school up river, so what better thing to experiment with. My son showed me how to open a document and I began to type. I discovered real quick that my new little toy knew more about grammar and spelling than I did. What a nifty trick that was. And adding or correcting something within a paragraph was pure joy. I think it took me flat minutes to fall in love with my new toy.

Over the next two years, I learned how to work my toy as I wrote my story, eventually giving up on the notebook step. I found the paint program and drew several pictures for my story, spending hours and sometimes even days modifying some of them to satisfy my picky nature.

To help me picture how long my story would be if it were a book, I picked up the last book I'd read and found a page full of text. I counted the lines and, following the rules for counting words from my typing class, I counted 'words' across one of the full lines. I took that information back to my story and adjusted the margins and font size until I got as close as possible. That also gave me a book size goal. The book I'd chosen was around 300 pages so that was my goal. I would consider my story a 'book' if it reached 300 or more pages. Imagine my pleasure when my story reached a little over 400 pages by the time I had reached an ending. I remind you that actual publishing was one of those alien concepts still.

The entire journey was such a delight, I simply had to start another, and then another, and then another. And oh my, look at me now. That first story is now a real book. The publisher chose a larger format which decreased my page count by nearly a hundred pages, but what did I know, and it was a minor matter, all things considered. They were, after all, supposedly the experts. Ah but that gets into a different journey and a different learning curve.

Many writers I've talked to since getting internet have been aimed at writing ever since they were little. How about you? How did you come to be a writer? Did it take you by surprise like it did me? Tell me all about it. I'd love to hear your story.


William Kendall said...

I've been writing since I was a kid, eleven or so. I think it was my creative outlet, the best way I could express myself. I was rather an outsider as a kid, and being able to create my own worlds in writing really helped. All of that writing I did for myself really became a training ground for me.

Anna L. Walls said...

You were lucky, William. I never thought to do much writing back then, though I do remember spinning some yarn or another for some school assignment. I never got any encouragement then and soon riding horses became more important.

Anonymous said...

Blogging is as far as I've gone when it comes to writing stuff that other people can read. I don't know where this "hobby" will take me. I would like to publish something someday, even if its just a short story.

So far, I'm happy with where I'm going. At the back of my mind I would like to write a book for my children before they get too big and don't want to read together anymore.

Your story has inspired me to go for it. Thank you!