Feeding the Monster

Every time I open this blog and see that line “Paranormal Romance Author”, I want to laugh at myself.  I’ve not published the first thing, but already I’m calling myself an author.  What nerve right?

What I didn’t know was that the desire to be a writer would incubate in my brain until it hatched into a tiny little monster.  A monster that would stubbornly refuse to die, no matter how much I ignored it or refused to feed it.

I put that line about being an author there to remind myself that’s my goal.  I want to be a writer.  I want to share my ideas and thoughts with others.  Whew, that’s a pretty daunting task.  I  have to ask myself though, are you ready to do that?  Do you have the imagination, vocabulary and the love to do it?  Most of all, do you have the drive to put yourself out there and pursue it? Is your monster hungry enough?

My mother is one of my biggest fans and always has been.  She supported me my whole life no matter what I attempted.  Want to go to college?  Check.  How about opening a new business?  Check Check.  (Done it twice, failed both times.  Don’t let anyone tell you that having a business isn’t hard.  Its excruciating!)  So, when I decided to finally have a go at writing, she was firmly in my corner. To this day she tells me I have a vivid imagination.  She was the first one to read my first book, Shattered Dreams, and the first thing she told me was, “You have such an imagination”.  She carefully fueled the fire and never chastised me for my silliness.  In my mind, I had a room full of ideas, thoughts and dreams – wild or not and not one time did my mother tell me to back down and get my head out of the clouds.  Thanks Mom,  seems first requirement is covered.  Mr. Monster, have a nibble.

From the time I picked up my first book, (Run, Spot, Run.  See Spot Run!), I have been fascinated with the written word.  I read everything I could find – signs, cereal boxes, papers and books.  When I came across an unfamiliar word, it wasn’t enough to just ignore it or guess what it meant and move on.  I would come to a screeching halt while I dung through a dictionary to find the meaning (this was long before internet – we had to look words up in books – gasp!).  The hero was just about to sweep the heroine off her feet?  Sorry, Bub, you gotta wait – I need to find out exactly what you mean when you say, “My Lady, you have a propensity for danger!”

Word has been found, understood and owned!

Each new word was tucked neatly into my overfull brain right next to the imagination room with the solemn vow I would use each one of those little beauties one day.  Granted, there comes a time when you realize that though the words are still up there, they have a few cobwebs and have gotten rather stubbornly comfortable.  It sometimes takes a gargantuan (see, there’s another!) amount of effort to pull them from their homey little corners, but that’s part of the fun.  Why say it only one way, when there’s a dozen others waiting their turn?

When I say that I read books, I mean with a voracious appetite.  Discovering the school library in the third grade still rates as one of my favorite days.  I can still remember the day I walked in the room and saw books from floor to ceiling on all 3 walls.  I was in Nirvana!  My elementary school was in a small town in rural Mississippi, so the offerings were limited, but it didn’t take long for me to find the fantasy and fairy tale section.  My first book?  1001 Arabian Nights.  I got to take it home and consumed it well within the two weeks I was given.  It didn’t take long to go through most of the fiction and a healthy portion of non-fiction.  The school librarian knew me on sight and often helped me in my quest to inhale as much as I could.  She often would discuss my selections with me and never talked down to me.   Those discussions sparked my aforementioned imagination and boosted my love of words.

Books became my comfort and Libraries were my favorite place to the point that I often wanted to go there before anywhere else.  Case in point – summer vacations with my father’s sister.  Every summer for several years, I got to go visit my aunt and her family for a week or two.  Every year that meant I got to explore a new library.  The first year was Nancy Drew.  The second, The Hardy Boys.  Every page fueled the love I had for books in all their fascinating forms.  Thank you Aunt G.  You helped to feed the monster too.

It seems I have the imagination, vocabulary and love, but what about the drive?

That’s a really tough one to answer.

As I said, books were my comfort when I was growing up.  I spent more time reading than anything else.  At different times in my young life, I tried basketball, softball and band (bet you saw that one coming, didn’t you).  Go, participate and get home to the latest jewel that waited to be devoured – that became my mantra.  I read on the bus.  I read between classes.  It was more unusual to find me without a book than to find me with one.  I loved how the authors painted vivid pictures in my mind.  I wrapped myself in the story and lived it.  To me, the ability to do that was something bordering magic and I was in awe!

When high school became college, I went to pursue a career in computers.  It was during college I started to write my first book.  At the time, my favorite genre was fantasy so, of course, my infantile attempt was focused on that.   I was going to become the next J.R.R. Tolkien – epic fantasy here I come!

I would write for a bit, then go back and make drastic changes.  Write more, go back and make more changes.  My first chapter was rewritten at least 20 times.  I just couldn’t help myself – it had to be absolutely perfect. Then the unthinkable happened.

I got into about 50 document pages (around15,000 words)  and lost the entire thing to a computer glitch.

At first I was upset, but then I got to thinking about it.  To be totally truthful, I really didn’t like what I had written, even with the constant rewrites.  It was too much like other books I had read over my lifetime. I could even pick out the pieces and know exactly which book it closely resembled.  I had created a Frankenstein monster of mismatched favorite stories from a dozen different authors.  It was someone else’s creature and not mine.  Once again I chastised myself, who was I to think I had any chance to aspire to be A Writer?

Since then, I have attempted to write at least 3 other books, and always gave up less than half way through.  They weren’t original enough.  They were sloppy.  They were a thousand reasons why I should give up.  I put it out of my mind.  Aspiring to be an author was just a silly pipe dream and I gave it up with my last attempt more than 10 years ago.

About 8 or so years ago, I planned a trip to Disneyworld with my family.  Being the somewhat anal retentive person I am about vacations (I’ll leave the reasons to another time), I diligently researched through the internet and happened upon a forum that specialized in all things Disney.  While digging through the forums, I came across something called “Trip Reports”, and in particular those written by a woman named Delswife – aka Robin, aka Wobin.  I loved her writing.  As she shared her family trip with me, I could imagine it all happening right there in my mind.

It didn’t take long before that monster again started kicking at the door to my imagination.  First up, I tried my hand at a trip report on our vacation to DisneyWorld and let me tell you, when I pushed that post button, I thought I was going to hyperventilate.  Amazingly enough, I didn’t fall over and die, twitching in aching embarrassment.  Though I cringed every time I got an email that a new a comment was posted, I gained a little more confidence.  (For my moose friends – thank you for also feeding the monster.  Wobin, I miss you more now than ever  – you’ve done to encourage me than you will ever know.  LYMI.)

A couple of years later, I founded a little literary forum and with the help of several of my internet friends, we put together a couple of pretty intense stories using the process of cooperative posting.  It was fun and entertaining and I loved it!  Every day for over a year, I would read with barely contain enthusiasm the others postings and add my own.  When interest waned, I sadly left it behind and carefully put the monster back in its cage a little older, a little stronger and a little more mature.  (My internet friends, thank you for contributing to help me with my aspirations.  Mr. Monster, have another bite.  Chomp!)

Fast forward to this year.  I had an idea for a book and on June 2, sat down at my computer and just started to write.  First thing I did was to make sure I backed it up.  Second thing was to forbid myself from going back and rewriting.  I was going to just plow through it and lay down the story first, then go back and flesh things out.  Somehow I managed to keep true to myself and though I bugged my poor husband a million times bouncing ideas off him, I managed to complete it.


The thrill of completing it was exhilarating and even as I finished my first 3 runs through the manuscript, I already had the next two books of my little world floating around in my mind.  Monsters are prolific it seems and mine was lonely.

On July 30, I put the last words on my first official book and realized something.  I may not be published, I may never be published, but I was finally a writer.  Perhaps only my mother, my assorted friends around the world (thanks to the internet) and my family will be the only ones to read it, but just perhaps it will someday be published and I will go from being a writer to being A Writer.

Either way, I found my drive to pursue what I have always wanted.  It’s a little imagination, a few well chosen words, a love for written words and a whole lot of encouragement from my friends but more importantly, my family.   Every one of you have had a part in nurturing this monster called writing.  If I make it it’ll be because of you.  I would never be here without you.

Now, If you would please excuse me – I hear roaring.

I think someone’s  hungry.

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