I don’t think it is a secret that writing is hard.
Like really hard.
And with how hard writing is (remember back to high school or university when you procrastinated until the night before your paper was due at 8:00 the next morning?) it is even harder to be successful at it.
But, since I was in the second grade I have had a passion to write. A deep desire to put pen to paper and create something out of nothing but my imagination.
It all started with my grade 2 teacher, Mrs. Hoagg. She and her husband used to make these amazing little books for us to write stories in. There would be a dozen or so blank pages, with a fabric covered cardboard cover. Each book was completely unique. They were all slightly different sizes, covered in different fabrics and I would agonize over which one to pick next. Of course, at that time in my life (a time when I wore a pink dress every single day — by choice I might add haha) anything with pink in the fabric would have narrowed down my selection rapidly.
In these books we could write and illustrate our own stories, usually on a topic given to us by the teacher such as “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” or “What I Want To Be When I Grow Up”. I would pour over them, writing my story on scrap paper before using my neatest printing (which arguably has never been all that neat), and draw each picture with precision and care in my book.
I was so proud of what I accomplished with each completion. Though I haven’t seen them in years, I am sure my mother must still have these little books somewhere.
That was 3 decades ago.
I don’t know if that teacher is still around, I moved away a few years afterwards, and I don’t know if she ever knew the spark that she lit within me, but I will forever remember her and the fire to write that she stoked within me.
After that I wrote down everything I could. I kept a diary. I wrote poems. I scribbled out short stories, I have countless notebooks that I refer to as “Brandi’s Book-o-Thoughts”… I just keep writing.
And I read. A lot. I can remember in grade school when the Scholastic order forms would come out (anyone else remember getting those?) and I would spend hours pouring over each and every offering. Reading, and re-reading the descriptions of each book. Invariably I would get the latest “Sleepover Friends” book by Susan Saunders. Waiting for it to come in was the hardest thing in the world! Then, when it finally arrived, I would devour it in a night or two.
When I got into high school I remember being in the drama room over lunch (yes, I was a drama nerd — still am to be honest) a university student that had graduated the year before was visiting. He was complaining about having to read Wuthering Heights in one of his university classes because it was too hard to understand. I was confused because I had read it in the 5th grade.
Needless to say, my reading comprehension was a little beyond my years.
It has become a vicious cycle, the more I read the more I want to write. The more I write, the more I want to read.
Back then I was still discovering my niche and what my favourite type of books and writing styles were. Now I stick mostly to my favourites in the Urban Fantasy realm. That is also the type of books I aspire to write. And I have written. To date, I have completed two full length novels, each approximately 360 paperback pages long. As well, I have two works in progress that are each roughly halfway completed.
One day I will submit them to agents and publishers. One day I will steel myself for the inevitable multitude of rejections that will come before someone finally agrees with me that these books need to be published, that they need to be in bookstores everywhere. One day my books will be shelved right along with some of my favourites like Kelley Armstrong, Kim Harrison, Larissa Ione, J.R. Ward, Cassandra Clare, and so many more.
Until then I plod away, slowly watching my word count rise. In the past I have completed and won the NaNoWriMo challenge. If you are unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it is a non-profit organization that has created a worldwide writing community. Each November the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days (which is the length of the average paperback novel, approximately 200 paperback pages). Before my craft business took off, and we became so busy during November with craft sales (I am sure that I will write more on that someday) I would participate in NaNoWriMo.
If you have a passion to write, I highly recommend checking out NaNoWriMo.org. Several bestselling authors that participate (I know that Kelley Armstrong is one) and several books started at NaNoWriMo make it to those bookstore shelves that I covet so much. If you like stories that are a little quirky, I would suggest The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern as an example of a book written during NaNoWriMo.
If you are looking for other writing tools, check out Scrivener by Literature and Latte. You can find it here. Within the tool you can plot, organize, rearrange, storyboard and so much more. I have found it both frustrating at times (mainly because it can do so much more than I have figured out) and invaluably helpful.
I am not an expert on writing by any means, I am just wildly passionate about it and want to get my writing out there to connect with others the way my favourite authors connected with me.
And Mrs. Hoagg, if you are out there and happen to read this, thank you. Thank you immensely from the bottom of my soul for starting that spark in me, for bringing out my lifelong passion for the written word. Thank you for being what a teacher should be.