My Journey as a Writer – blog (part 10)

My Journey as a Writer documents my journey as I rediscover my love of writing, and push forward into a new career path. This is my final post in this series. Watch for my new blog series starting soon.

For my final post in this blog series, I wanted to share my journey as a writer.

Part 10 includes – 

  • Fourth grade through freshman year of college
  • August 2018 – present
  • Looking ahead

Fourth grade through freshman year of college

The only subject I ever liked in school was English. In the fourth grade, I started to learn about writing. That was the first time I wrote anything. We did the usual stuff in school – book reports, essays, whatever else it was. As a shy and quiet kid, writing was a chance for me to express myself. I liked writing and had an aptitude for it.

I started writing poetry in high school. Except, I was too embarrassed to call it poetry. I called the poems “songs” because that felt less embarrassing. Not that I called it anything! I never told anyone about it. I didn’t want people to know that I was writing. 

In college, I took the obligatory Freshman English class. Writing essays came easy to me. I’d wait until a couple of days before it was due and bust it out. (I don’t recommend doing that!) I always got As on my essays in college. It ain’t bragging – it’s the facts. Writing essays was fun. I liked it.

And then, after I dropped out of college, I stopped writing. I didn’t write much of anything for 15 years. That’s a bit of a downer, huh? I gave up. That’s tough to admit, even all these years later, but it’s part of my story.

I regret not pursuing a degree in English – or even Journalism. That was a missed opportunity. 

August 2018 – present

Fast forward to 08-18-18. I’m 35 years old at the time and at a crossroads in my career. I enjoyed writing in the past and wanted to get back into it. So, I started on my writing journey for the second time. I wrote a few short stories and started keeping a journal. I enjoyed it but didn’t know what to do with it. By October, my interest started to slide. Here we go again! I didn’t have the confidence in my writing abilities. I didn’t have the discipline to write. I didn’t have a plan or a goal. I came close to giving up – again.

Soon after that, I got an idea for a novel. I laugh out loud as I reflect on this. At this point, my word count is a paltry 2,500 words, total, for a few short stories and journal entries. I had already given up on writing once and quit for 15 years. I’ve hardly written anything this time around, and somehow I’m thinking of writing a novel. It sounds absurd – and yet, that’s where I found myself.

I had no idea what I was doing. I wrote a few pages. It wasn’t much. I had some ideas, and it was fun to try and write the movie I could see in my head. I decided to keep writing and hoped I could piece it all together in the end. A rookie mistake! Obviously, this is not how you write a novel! 

I kept going with my novel and got up to 10,000 words. A huge achievement! The champagne didn’t keep flowing, though, and it soon went dry. I hit a wall. I had ideas and wanted to write, but I couldn’t move forward. My novel collapsed. My bad habits came back to haunt me – having a very loose outline and trying to plan, write, and edit all at the same time. I tried to improvise. That might work for a poem or a short story, but any writing of substance needs more planning.

For the record – I didn’t quit my novel. It’s on hold at 22,000 words. It remains my most extensive writing project to date. Does that make it a success or a failure?

Looking ahead

Today, I have many writing projects keeping me busy. I set challenging and incremental goals for myself. My total word count is getting close to 160,000 words. I’ve written more in the last year than I wrote in the first 35 years of my life. It took me a long time, but I finally decided what I want to do with my life. I’m starting to make that dream a reality. Yes, I have a long way to go, and it will be an uphill climb. I’m optimistic.

So many people quit before they even start. Often in life, you have to show you can do the job before anyone takes you seriously. Writing is the same way. You have to write before people will see you as a writer.

There’s so much I want to write! Definitely no shortage of ideas or projects to do. I’m inspired to write more and get better.

My ultimate goal in life is to write a novel. I’m not there yet. Until then, I’d like to focus on nonfiction writing. Nonfiction may not be as sexy as fiction, but it can be equally satisfying in its own way.

Jack Nicholson, as Frank Costello, said it best in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed: “When you decide to be something, you can be it.” 

I decided to be a writer. My journey has only begun.

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