Who I used to be

I talk a lot about how much I love to write, how often it's helped me and how I feel like it defines me. But in truth, that hasn't been me for a long time now. I want it to be. It's hidden down there somewhere deep inside, where I've been surpressing it against all the other things I've deemed more important over the years, but it's there. I'm slowly finding it.
I have lots of fun hobbies, but writing has always been my favorite. One of the reasons is that it's never been hard for me. Or I should say, it never used to be hard.
I remember when it all started: it was 2nd grade. My teacher, Mrs. Workman, started "Writer's Workshop" for us during class. She would teach us some simple writing thing (how to use quotes, when to capitalize letters, etc. Basic 2nd grade stuff) and afterward, she would just let us write. I loved it. There was something about calling it a "workshop" that I just loved right away. I think I was picturing Santa's workshop or something.
Most of the kids would write new silly things every day. But for the duration of the year, I was almost always working on my book, "Sara's Christmas List." I really liked how I didn't put an "h" on her name. I was just so darn creative. The book was named before it was written, and in the end had almost nothing to do with Sara's Christmas List. It pages and pages of funny conversations she had with her big sister, or a painfully descriptive telling of her treehouse. It was obviously no good, but the point was I loved it. And my teacher, who is to this day one of my favorite teachers I've ever had, was very encouraging about it. She would always tell me what a talented writer I was, and that was what started it all. That little bit of inspiration to give me the self esteem I needed to keep going. It's also one of the reasons I want to be a teacher, but that's another story.
From then on, I was always known as a "writer". I would enter and win every writing contest I could get my hands on. I loved it, but I also knew I was good. I had enough confidence for an army of men, something I'm afraid goes away with age, and it did.
I published A Place Like Heaven when I was 18. I remember the day I finished the last few pages of the book. I immediately called AuthorHouse (I had called them a few weeks before to set things up) to let them know my book was finished and ready to be sent in. Then I did a little happy dance around my room because, come on, lifelong dream coming true here.
And it was amazing. Getting the first copy of my book in the mail was amazing. Selling boxes and boxes of copies at my first book signing was amazing. Having random people add me on Facebook to tell me they loved my book was amazing. And yes, googling my name and seeing pages and pages of my book come up is, you guessed it, amazing.
But ask anyone and they will tell you Anndee hates that book. I thought I was doing this wonderful thing for myself by publishing it. But ever since that book came out, it has been a downward slope for me. Despite all the compliments I got, all I can seem to remember are the criticisms. I remember growing up,  I had a constant book going on in my head at all times. Everything I was doing was a story. I would literally be thinking, "She walked down the street slowly, watching her feet cross one in front of the other, as she wondered if her brothers were home yet. If they were, Cody probably ate the last ice cream sandwich even though he knew it was hers, just because he liked to pick on her. Having brothers was harder than anyone without them could understand." It was silly, but it was what made me a good writer. I was constantly practicing. I've actually noticed this coming back lately because of blogging, which is why I'm here. :)
At the time that I was writing my book, I was reading a lot of books by Sarah Dessen.
Looking back, my book is almost a carbon copy of hers. I still think she is a good writer, but my style has definitely changed a lot. One of the biggest ways, is that I want to challenge myself now. I would read her books and think, "I could do that." And I did. It was nothing complex. It didn't take much thought or planning. I just wrote. And maybe that's what I needed for my first book.
But now, I want to amaze myself. I want to shock and awe. Ok, maybe not shock. But awe, certainly. I want to write something Harry Potter-worthy, and I think that I've given myself such high standards that they seem impossible to reach.
The whole point of this is that I'm going to try, yet again, to write my next novel. Above any other dreams I have (ok, almost any other dreams. There are a few at the moment that seriously trump this one.) I just want to publish another book. And all it really takes is getting started.

1 comment:

  1. I love that you have stuck with your dream, some of us have let them go because of the lack of support or unkind comments...I think you Are a natural writer, and I love hearing your unique voice! :)