Is that what I am? I received a discounted rate from Poets and Writers Magazine because I’m a professional writer. I never thought of it that way until I got their invitation. Though “In a Wolf’s Eyes” was published last year, and the second of the series, “Catch a Wolf” came out a few weeks ago, I haven’t quit my day job yet. I’ve wanted to be a writer since junior high school. In the nineties, I tried publishing the earlier version of what I later called “In a Wolf’s Eyes”. Of course, it wasn’t published and when I reread it now, I know why. It’s crap.
My personal writing journey truly took off more than five years ago. Though I re-started “In a Wolf’s Eyes” in 1998, I didn’t write on it for years, as I was newly divorced, making a living, doing what newly divorced people do: meet other divorced people. Over time, I left Colorado and moved to Texas, working and spending time with a new man. My book hadn’t been touched for I don’t know how many years. I don’t honestly remember. In the spring of 2008, nursing a shattered heart with time on my hands, I thought to myself, “Why am I not finishing that book?”
Broken hearts can sometimes be good things, in my opinion. In order to overcome it, I threw myself into my day job as a photographer and my evening job as a writer. I wrote and wrote and then for variety wrote some more. Then I edited, revised, pulled apart, nit-picked and offered it up for a critique. A sweet young thang from Michigan read it.
Every writer should have a sweet young thang read their manuscripts. She said, “It’s good, but it needs work.” With her advice and opinions, I revised and reworked and nit-picked it, and discovered an entire realm of possibilities for my characters. When she suggested I rewrite a scene not as a backstory as I originally wrote it, but as present tense and pulling my reader in, she had no idea what monster she created. I rewrote it. I’m almost astonished at myself, writing that scene being the horse lover that I am. I won’t tell you what it is – you’ll have to read it for yourself. One of my readers wanted to throw the book across the room upon discovering what I put my characters through. Not because of bad writing, but because I invoked such an emotional response.
I think many writers on their own personal journeys must go through stages of maturity. I know mine certainly did. When I reread my earlier work, I felt embarrassment. I wrote that? Good god! While I tried invoking an emotional response at the time, it was in a very juvenile fashion. I tried the syrupy-sweet, touchy-feely stuff that might work in a romance novel, but not a sword-and-sorcery epic fantasy. At least not in mine. Now when I write to bring my readers to laughter, to tears, to anger, it’s in not just a mature method of writing, but, I think, in a more skillful manner. Because practice makes perfect. I learned from my mistakes. I am my own worst critic. If I can laugh and cry over my own bloody books, then I figure my readers will do the same. I wrote that?