Please welcome my guest, Katrina Williams!
I began to write seriously in the tenth grade, but like all teenagers, would have benefited from looking up “seriously” in the dictionary, despite using the word on a frequent basis. I was convinced I would be a writer one day and majored in English Lit to prepare, but life soon beat me down to the point where I put writing away. Forever. Too impractical. Too hard. Not good enough.
Then I married someone who looks to the future. We started having conversations about where we wanted to be in five years, ten years, and it wasn’t at the corporate middle management job where I collected a paycheck. We read articles about following your passion, talked about what kind of business we would open if we came into some money. I didn’t think about writing again until my husband called me at work and told me his mother couldn’t provide daycare for our kids any longer and what did I want to do?
In a flash, I realized writing was my passion and if I wanted to make my passion a career, I had to quit the day job and take it seriously. So I did.
I jokingly told a writer friend that I write to discover my identity. I guess I wasn’t kidding. There are so many people inside me writhing to get out, people who have more courage than I do, people who make more mistakes because they aren’t afraid to take risks. People who are at the cusp of discovering themselves and still have the optimism to be successful at whatever they try. I can be a skydiver, a surgeon, a thief, a fairy, a man – anything I want – when I’m putting fingers to the keys.
I love to read and the capacity of a book to transport you into another world is unparalleled in anything I’ve experienced thus far in life. I want to create that for others. My dream is to have a reader tell me they were moved by my writing and they couldn’t put it down; this motivates me in a way nothing else could.
I’ve had great successes and strides in the last year since I became a serious writer. Last year, I completed the book I started in college, and then wrote another one. I placed fifth in the first writing contest I entered, which was quite surprising. I’ve learned more in the last year than the prior years combined. My biggest failure is not pouring effort into every last available second, because that’s writing time I can’t get back.
Connections in life, and writing, are paramount and often serendipitous. One of my professors encouraged me to attend a writer’s conference. I knew no one there, but started talking to the girl seated next to me and we’ve been critique partners on and off for over fifteen years now. I have more recently enjoyed the great people at Romance Divas and found support, friendship and accountability, which I find to be critical in this business.
I’ve learned I need time to process comments on my writing. My first reaction, upon learning the comments are not “It’s perfect! I loved it!,” is to give up, like I did many years ago, but if I allow myself time to be mad, cry, and get out all the negative self-doubt, I can then start editing. I have an image in my head of writing something perfectly the first time I touch it and that’s just not reality, at least not for me. I have to remind myself even the published writers I adore are not universally accepted as being great, and fiction is subjective.
My journey has brought me to tears. To a place where I feel consumed by the things inside me bursting to be free. To indescribable frustration because I’ve worked so hard for so long and I’m still not published. To great heights when I’m really “on.”
I take pride in my accomplishments of the last year. I’ve finished two books and I have a plan to write two more in 2010. I’ve started thinking of myself as a writer and telling people I write. This is a huge piece of identity I am thrilled to have embraced and is the key for new writers. So the best advice I can give someone else is print this out and hang it up: I am a writer.