One of the things people always ask writers is when did they start writing? For most writers, we start as children. Several others start writing as adults because they have a story to tell, or newfound inspiration. For others, it is a way to make money.
I was one of the young writers. I started writing as a child. When I was fourteen, I wrote my first novel. It was a story of 20,000 words, wildly over the place, too many characters and so full of clichés it is horrible.
It was the best story I had ever written, and I realized that I could do something with my writing. I figured out at one time that from the age of fourteen until I was in college, I had written a novel a year. Not bad, actually. They were all over the place as I attempted to sort out what I liked. I focused on fantasy, historical fiction and dabbled in science fiction and mysteries.
Some of the ideas I had back then were brilliant. Most were horrible. Although, now, looking back, I can tell that the foundations of my stories were solid, the execution of the ideas were not as good.
When I was in tenth grade, I started to consider what I wanted to do with my life. Did I want to go to college? Learn a trade? Something else? In truth, college was expected. Both of my parents had attended college, and I knew little about trades, and the ones that I did know about, I did not want to do.
Ultimately, I settled on writing. Mainly, I wanted to do many different fields from archaeologist to zoologist. What was one thing that every profession needed? Writers.
With that decision done, I went looking for colleges. At the time, I had started to attend my local public school. The knowledge that I had concerning my faith was not ready to answer questions or assumptions that others had about Christianity, and I felt that I was completely lost. Added to that, I had absorbed the fearful, anti-intellectualism that was starting to develop in the Christian world. To that end, I started to look exclusively at Christian colleges. I had three main requirements:
1. It had to be Christian.
2. It had to have a communications/writing degree.
3. It had to be outside of New York State.
I ended up attending Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Yes, that place; the very conservative college. At the time, it was the only school that I found had offered all that I was looking for. Communications degrees were rare enough in the early 2000s, and most Christian colleges had communications degrees that doubled as pastoral studies. I was barred from entering some of the degrees based upon my sex as they were only for males.
Enter the New World
I was unprepared for the real world, especially for my writing. Part of this was lack of discipline on my part, and lack of preparation on the school’s part. Unfortunately, this is common for many writing majors. I had a friend recently graduate from a well-known NY state college, and he has had problems with preparation as well.
Most colleges, especially Christian ones, focus on certain fields. In the Christian world it tends to be education and church (pastoral or music).
For several years, I bounced around jobs, trying to find a place that I could settle into. I still held onto the dream promised to me as a teenage – work hard and you will land a good job. Unfortunately, that world has quickly disappeared. Now, we live in a world where a lot of the things that our parents or grandparents took for granted just don’t exist.
In 2008, with the downturn of the global economy, I had a job and I tried to balance my work and writing but found it difficult. Added to that, I had been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, an inactive thyroid in which some of the symptoms include fatigue.
In 2012, I left the steady job to start a home-based business. One of my greatest accomplishments was the publication of my three novels. I was beyond excited, but it came as a shock the amount of marketing that I needed to do.
And I was completely unprepared.
Even for my handweaving business, I was unprepared for what I needed to do for marketing, but I kept at it. Every year, I earned a little bit more; had a little better idea of what I was doing, but needed a steady job.
In May 2015, I went to France as a mission observer. I wondered if I was meant to be a missionary. While I loved France, the missionaries felt that I needed to move out of my parents’ home and pay off my debt.
The following February, I moved to Korea to become an English teacher.
The three years in Korea were good – I was healthier than ever, I paid off my debt, and found a new love of languages. I also adopted a cat and made many wonderful friends who inspire me to do greater things. I had found a home in the most unlikely of places.
God really has a sense of humor. While at mission training the April before I went to France, we ended up having Chinese for lunch. I boldly proclaimed that I would never need to learn how to use chopsticks. I was heading to Europe after all. Now, four years later, I much prefer chopsticks.
My time in Korea has helped me focus on my writing work balance. I found a wonderful group of writing friends who support me and help me grow better.
Upon my return home from Korea, I had found new confidence in writing, a new focus on how to write, and, more importantly, what I wanted to do to write.