Friday, June 15, 2012

Writers Never Stop Learning

I remember when my writing grew from something more than a kid jotting in notebooks to something I  might actually be good at. It was a wild and crazy thought, just out of high school with no great grades in any English (now called Language Arts) class. And I sure wasn't brave enough to let many people ever even look at a page I'd written.

I credit my parents really. I had the opportunity to take a creative writing course, one I couldn't afford, yet my enrollment happened anyway - didn't take me long to figure out who made that happen. My mom has always been my biggest fan, and my biggest critic when I needed someone to point out when something was bad.  I learned a lot in that two year course. But it wasn't enough. I gobbled up "How-To" books on all topics related to writing. Articles and stories from Ray Bradbury, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark and many others taught me how to improve my techniques for suspense, horror, and fantasy weekly. And I wrote nearly every night after tucking my girls into bed.

I worked with editors for my first book and got some bites from publishers, but things just didn't sit right with me, the changes they wanted, the things they demanded. I kept studying, kept writing.

I published my first book in 2002. I had people coming to me for advice shortly after, got invited to offer novel writing workshops for Long Story Short School of Writing, workshops I still teach. I keep writing.

And I'm still learning. I've made mistakes in my writing, but I'm learning from them and fixing them. The biggest lesson I had to learn was that my voice, just the way it is, is fine -- readers like it. I have a couple titles where I tried to listen to editors or the well meant advice of other writers, but I did not do myself any favors by letting my style and voice get muddled. I've worked that out now, but I'm still learning.

If I live to be ninety years-old and write fifty novels, I'll still be learning. And I wouldn't want it any other way.

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