The road to writing has been a long and winding journey for me. Looking back, writing was always dancing around in my peripheral vision, vying for my attention. But like a young, insecure boy at a school dance watching the pretty girl standing against the wall, I was too scared to ask her to take a spin with me. What if I wasn’t good enough? Could I handle the rejection?
I remember knowing certain people as I grew up who always knew what they wanted to be. You know the ones. There’s the nurse who spent her childhood bandaging dolls and the lawyer who had been arguing cases since she could talk. I never put too much thought into it at the time. Well, not until college that is. That’s when I started to envy those people who knew, with unquestionable certainty, what their passion in life was. It made their eyes light up. I seemed to be a little interested in everything, but passionate about nothing.
I’d always had some interest in writing. I wrote a couple of short stories and had endless little pieces of paper with ideas jotted down on them. Once, I even attempted to write a book. The problem was that I didn’t get more than a couple of pages written before I gave up. It turned out that writing was hard. Who knew? That’s when I decided that maybe I just liked the idea of being a writer. After all, don’t people that love to write, you know, love to write? I scrapped the idea but continued to hold onto my little pieces of paper, just in case.
Fast forward fifteen years. I’d just had my second daughter and apparently children make your house shrink. I began paring down my belongings with a vengeance. While going through some boxes, I came across my stash of “writing ideas”. There were about twenty years worth of random thoughts and ideas for future stories sprinkled with a few poems I’d written. Obviously, I was never going to pursue that old pipe-dream, so I (gasp) threw the box out.
I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but less than a year later, writing once again slipped into my consciousness. I decided to give it another shot, but I knew I needed guidance so I started looking for writing groups and workshops on the internet. This research eventually led me to my local chapter of the Romance Writers of America (RWA). It was joining this group that made me realize that writing is my passion. These are people that I can get lost in a conversation about writing with. These are the people that, not only don’t bat an eyelash when I talk about the voices in my head, but encourage me to get to know them.
I’ve talked to other writers about when they were bitten by the writing bug. Some of them have been writing stories since they could hold a pencil. Then there are others, like me, who took the scenic route. Many of them say that looking back, they can recall ways that writing or telling stories was always a part of who they were. For instance, my friend Steph has only been writing for a couple of years, but she recalls making up stories as she walked home from the bus stop as a child.
Sometimes I think about how many years it took for me to find my way back to writing. I think about how much experience I would have if only I’d have pursued it earlier. I spend a few moments dwelling on the things I should have done. But then I remember something that my favorite college professor told me: “Don’t should on others, and don’t should on yourself.” I like to think that I was simply out doing field research. After all, when it comes to writing, life-experience is invaluable. Even though it took awhile, I am grateful to have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up.
So, here’s to all the late bloomers. Anyone else take the scenic route?