Saturday, January 12, 2013

How I Became a Writer by Christie Rich

I used to think of writers as these amazing creatures who made up worlds and creatures and characters.  I was in awe of how someone could “come up” with a story line or that amazing character or a world that sucked me in.

Now I know better.  All my life I’ve loved stories, partially because my family was relatively poor growing up, and I had to use my imagination to entertain myself, but also because there is a deep seeded need within me to “explore strange, new worlds.”  I was raised on a steady mental diet of cartoons and fantasy (thanks to my dad), but unfortunately, I didn’t develop a true love for reading until I was in my adult years.  Sure, there were the stories that I couldn’t put down, but those were so few and far between I don’t remember most of them.

You see, I actually hated reading in school (gasp).  There was a very good reason for this.  I have dyslexia.  For those of you who don’t know what that is, it means my brain sometimes mixes up numbers and letters and generally makes reading comprehension hard.

Fortunately for kids these days, teachers are trained to identify those with a “learning disability” and are armed with the knowledge of how to help their students, but when I was growing up, it wasn’t the thing to do.  My teachers just thought I wasn’t paying attention when I stumbled over words sometimes and couldn’t understand something and assignment.  The more advanced the reading requirements became in school, the further I withdrew into my head.  I used to daydream a lot in class.  In my early years it was because I didn’t get what was happening.  In my later years it was because I didn’t care.

I actually graduated with a 3.8 GPA which was pretty good considering, but I could have done better if I had known what was up with my brain.  As you can imagine, studying was hard for me.  I’d read the assignment and think, “What in the heck did I just read?”  It wasn’t that I wasn’t paying attention.  I was.  I just couldn’t figure out how to retain what I read.

Eventually I started reading aloud, which got me some raised eyebrows from my parents.  To this day, I don’t know if they realize how hard of a time I had in school, and that is okay.  I did fine most of the time when it came to grades, but I had to work hard to get those grades.

So fast forward to adulthood.  Like most people I associated with, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I grew up, so I went to college, got a job, and tried to make a living on my own.  It wasn’t until after the birth of my daughter that I started reading for fun.  Somewhere along the way, my brain seemed to have developed a way to retain information.  Probably because my day job demands that I remember lots of information, but that’s another post (grins).

The minute I decided I liked to read, I couldn’t stop.  I lived at the library, borrowed books from family and friends, and sought recommendations for the next big thing.  I devoured the Twilight books, the Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter.  I read others along the way, but those were the ones that stuck with me.  Then I read some romance books by an author named Karen Marie Moning.  I picked up one of her titles on a whim and read all of them in a matter of weeks.  When I was left wanting, I saw she had another title, Dark Fever, and picked it up.

It wasn’t anything like the feel good Scottish romances she had previously written.  The book was urban fantasy, which I had no clue even existed at the time.  As I read I kept waiting for the romance to happen and when it didn’t I was disappointed, but those books had me hooked.

The mystery surrounding the fae in the Fever Series was what sparked my imagination thinking about them.  In the Fever Series, the fae weren’t pint sized winged creatures flitting about causing mischief.  They were dark and dangerous and intriguing.

I thought about those books more than any I had ever read.  I became obsessed with “figuring out” what was going to happen and joined the KMM message boards where fans can postulate all day long about theories.

It was through that contemplation that the spark for my own series came.  It was really from one question:  What if the fae were misunderstood?

My mind began churning and pretty soon I was thinking about characters that had no home.  At least not yet.

One of my good friends had been telling me for years that she wanted to be a writer, so when I finally had a full formed plot in my head, I tried to give it to her.  I started out by say, “I have this great idea for a book.”

Little did I know that this particular friend was inundated with great ideas from her well meaning family and she was sick of hearing about other people’s ideas.  She turned toward me and said, “If you have a story, you need to write it.”  She wanted one of her own, and now that I know what that means, I can’t blame her.

As you can probably suspect, I went away from that meeting feeling deflated.  My hopes for this burgeoning story inside me had been dashed.  The truth was, I didn’t think I could write a book, yet I’d never tried.

The idea of my fae story never being told was so traumatic for me that I said, “fine” and went to work figuring out how to write a book.  My first words were awful, and since I don’t have access to the computer I used back then, I don’t have to look at them anymore.  But that was the beginning of my writer’s journey.  My husband would laugh if he read this because he hates the way people throw out the term journey so often, yet I feel the word expresses what I’ve been through, what I continue to go through as a writer.

The truth is, I love writing more than any creative outlet I’ve tried.  It’s liberating to sit down and let a story flow out of me, but I can’t say I created any of it.  The characters have come to me, shown me their homes and their lives and I have tried to capture their story to share with the world.  It’s a humbling experience, and I’ve read other posts from other writers that say similar things.  What I get as a writer is a glimpse of an unknown world, a snapshot that I have to flesh out to make sense to readers.

As time passes maybe I’ll begin to create my own worlds, but for now, I’m happy to be an observer sharing these wonderful glimpses with you.

So have you ever read a story that wouldn’t let you go?  Has your mind focused on something in particular?  Who knows, if you stay at it, you just might end up opening up the floodgates of story.  Once that happens, your life will never be the same.  I know mine isn’t.

About the Author:

I grew up daydreaming about fairytales, and my love for discovering new worlds has never died. I am not one of those writers who always knew I would write. I thought that was what other people did until one day a few years ago, I took a challenge from a friend and typed my first words. My journey has been wonderful, and I cannot imagine a day where I would ever give up writing now. My love for reading is what fueled my imagination in the first place and still does. When I am not writing or reading, I am enjoying family time with my husband and two children. We live in a quiet community under the Wellsville mountains in Utah, and I am so thankful for the rich life I have been blessed with.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for having me here today, Monique! It was fun writing this post.

    If any of your readers are interested, my first book, Five, is free for download on all major eretailers. Happy reading everyone :)


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