Monday, March 10, 2008

A Moment of Clarity

I heard an announcement that caused my skin to raise with goosebumps. One of my favorite authors will be in town to do a signing at B&N on the 19th. I'll be able to meet Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire novels. Whoo hooo. It was like I was a teenager again and about to meet a god of sorts. I was thrilled. Then a flash of clarity hit. She is not unlike me. She's an author trying to sell her books. I'm an author trying to sell mine. She has a lot of them. I have one. But even she had to start with one. Did it dampen my excitment? Nope. I'm still looking forward to meeting her, but maybe it did dull the childish "author worship" edge.

The whole thing got me to thinking. Did I become a writer to feel that thill of knowing someone else was reading my work? No. I write because it gives me satisfaction. It's who I am to a point. Yes, I'm someone's wife and daughter. Yes, I'm friend to a few people. But take away my writing and I feel as if I've lost a large part of me. The part that is different than anyone else. There are other writers, but none like me. My grandmother always told me there would always be someone better, but not someone just like me. My writing makes me me. I find contentment when I place my butt in this chair and let my words go from my head to my fingertips. I listen to each character's voice as he/she talks to me. I argue with them when they don't agree with a twist or turn in the story. Sometimes they win, sometimes I do. Okay. Most of the time they win.

When I was young and first starting to run sentences together, I used to think the characters were long gone souls telling me their stories. I was just the one with the pen and paper, taking down their words. I loved the stores of the old west and gunfighters. I fell in love with Wild Bill Hickok and many of my stories were about him. Then I heard my first ghost story. Sorry, Wild Bill.

I started writing of ghosts looking for revenge. I wrote of girls with special abilities who could talk to the ghosts. I look back now and realize they were silly stories. Most didn't even have a real plot. Hey! I was twelve. What did I know about plots? I started reading anything I could find in the library on the subject of the paranormal. Not a hot topic back then, but I found enough to keep my imagination fed. Over the years real life took over and I had to find a job and make a living. I married. We worked hard to have the American dream...a house of our own with the picket fence and a dog. Turns out the picket fence was a six foot privacy fence, and A dog turned into three. Then one day I came home from work, burnt out, fed up and angry about one thing or the other (again) and my hubby said, "You always say you want to be a writer, do it. Quit that job and write. We don't need the money from your job any more."

Silly me, I took him up on it.

Back to the beginning of this post: I wonder, Charlaine, did you grow up writing silly stoires in the beginning? Did the stories grow and take form as time passed? Do your words burn in your soul until you have to turn them loose?

Are we that different?


Ashley Ladd said...

I'm glad to see that you must be feeling better if you're back online. Hugs.

You're a fantastic writer. I love your stories.

Thanks for visiting my blog the other day.

CJ Parker said...

I'm feeling great. I've lost eleven pounds and eating much healthier. Nothing like a little scare to put you on the right road again, huh? LOL