From the moment I wrote the last word of my first short story, I was hooked. I was seven years old when I wrote that first story, and though I’ve forgotten many of its details, I’ve never lost the delicious sense of being a writer that washed over me as I sat hunched on my bunk bed that hot summer’s day, oblivious to the world around me, absorbed in reading what I’d just written.
I was that one kid in the family who always read the back of the cereal box. On tedious car trips my eyes desperately sought something to read: billboards, gas station signs, and the words on hand lettered signs taped to grocery store windows, just like the ones my father, an artist, got paid to create. It hardly mattered if the signs were as mundane as “Oranges, 89 cents per 2 dozen.” That was fine with me, they were still words written down and that was how I best processed life. (For those of you familiar with the sitcom The Middle, I was a female version of Brick, the family bookworm.)
It seems I’ve always been a writer, though I hadn’t much time to pursue my literary dreams during the years of being single mom to five boys. My writing may have become intermittent during those years, but I still scribbled down what few words I could during the odd moment here and there. Whether anyone else ever read them, I felt compelled to write them.
I now have seven beautiful grand kids. My life has always centered on my growing family, but now that the grand kids are older and I’m not as active in their daily lives, I have what I’ve most coveted: uninterrupted time to write. And I do write, most days. But I’ve discovered that I also derive a different sort of satisfaction from beta reading the work of others. The creative writing process has always fascinated me, even (and maybe especially) when it’s not my own.
Encouraging fellow writers as they mold their stories to fit their unique vision is what I love to do best when not writing my own stories. As a fellow writer, I can empathize with the need to hear honest–but kind–criticism from a beta reader. And as a lifetime voracious reader, I have the fictional experience it takes to see into the heart of a novel and assess its story arc, and characterization–and all the various components that go into the making of a compelling tale.
I’ve been doing this unaware for decades every time I’ve delved into a new book, and took that first step of a brand new journey into the magical world of fiction.