November 2013 Archive

I Was Not Born A Writer

I have heard it said, “I was a writer from the start,” but that was not me. I was not born knowing how to put words to my thoughts or how to take those words from my mouth and place them on the page. I was not born understanding the characters dancing in my head or the worlds that needed building. I was not born knowing how to cultivate a storyteller’s touch or with the drive to wade through the world of publishing.

I was not born with the knowledge of the Hero’s Journey or the necessity of a
Beginning

Middle

and End.

I was not born knowing how to bring a character to life, how to give them emotion, how to make a reader feel what my characters experience, or how to make them seem just as three-dimensional as a true-living-breathing person.

I was not born knowing how to understand my five senses and use words to describe them. I was not born knowing the dynamic simple sentence or how to string a complex sentence together. I did not know the difference between the word “red” and “amaranth”, “sad” and “doleful”, “smell” and “reek”, or “hug” and “cradle”. I was not born knowing there are words that carry power, that stick in a reader’s memory like tacky glue or molasses or silly putty or sweat.

I was not born knowing the importance of a comma, the necessity of a period, the gift of quotation marks, or the beauty of an em dash. Punctuation can carry as much power as a word. I was not born knowing that truth.

I was not born knowing that readers need to laugh and cry (often at the same time). Or that readers need to root for their characters. Or that readers need characters with flaws. Need characters full of flaws. Characters that have flaws and yet, they still rise. They rise and conquer. They conquer, despite those flaws. I was not born knowing that characters need to save themselves or save others or are saved because of their flaws.

I was not born knowing how to create rhythm or prose that speaks. I was not born knowing how to draft and edit or knowing the difference between pantsing and plotting. I was not born with thick skin.

I was not born a writer.

But.

But I was born a creature of industry. I was born with the ability to establish habits, particularly the habit of working hard and steadily. I was born with the desire to practice and read, practice and read, practice and read. I was born with an internal need to experience the world fully, to know the stories of fellow men, to understand the lives of the people who have come before me. I was born with the need to interact with others intimately and with the beautiful world around us—to make connections, to research and learn and learn and learn.

I was born with an imagination. I was born with a powerful brain. I was born with a subconscious that works overtime when I sleep and dream.

I was born with each of the tools needed to place the stories I brainstorm on paper.

I was born with the capacity to become.

Four years ago today, I was in a car accident that changed my life and set me on the path to write my first book, which led to the second, the third, the fourth, fifth, sixth and on.

I was not born a writer.

But it is what I am.

I Went To Circus School…Sort Of

Have I told you guys that I went to circus school?

Okay okay, that isn’t entirely true, but how cool would that have been?! My senior year of high school, our teacher assigned us the project of writing an ethnography. My partner and I brainstormed what sort of culture we’d like to study and on a whim, never thinking it’d actually be an option, we searched to find out if there were any circus’ in the area. And…voila, we found Circus Juventas–a circus school for youth, located right in our area!

For the duration of the project, my partner and I completed observation hours, watching as teachers stretched elementary aged students–helping their bodies learn how to fit into contortionists positions,  interviewed a boy who much preferred riding around a ten foot tall unicycle to walking, gaped as high schoolers performed aerials and learned acrobatics and practiced trapeze acts…And in all seriousness, holy smokes Batman did it make me want to up and join the circus.

I suppose I still have that paper somewhere, but I wish smart phones had been around back then, so I could have taken pictures and videos of how talented and accomplished these kids were.

Have you ever wanted to join the circus? Seriously! [I'm looking at you, Jessica Byam!]

p.s. Katie Cooper, do you still have that paper we wrote??