Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Writer's Journey

Early on, I wanted to be writer. Even before I could formulate the idea. My mother taught me to read and write by the age of four. As an oops child, books fast became my best friend. In first grade, I inadvertently taught other students to both read and write by passing them notes in class. Ruined the suspense of our reading circle because I informed everyone how Dick and Jane ended. Personally, I think Dick and Jane could have used a little more conflict in their tales.

As I grew, I spent more time writing and less time destroying other children’s reading enjoyment. In the early years, I did receive mixed reviews for my efforts. Some teachers objected to my talking animals and flying people. Sounded a bit like witchcraft. Even though forbidden, I did get a peek at my permanent record being an expert at reading upside down. My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Pate, thought I had genuine writing talent. I always loved that woman.

As a teen, I won a few contests, even got paid for magazine publications. Between an active social life and a part time job, I wrote every free minute I could grab. These free minutes were usually available only in school. Not all teachers were supportive of my writing and would sometimes pick up, even destroy my work. To circumvent teachers’ inherent nosiness, all my characters became animals with exotic names. In truth, they were actual people in the school. My on-going comedic novel about the creation of the world, heavily read by dozens of students, but frowned upon by several teachers, would be out in weekly installments. I had friends who scribed different copies for me since the ditto machine was in the teachers’ workroom. That first novel attempt may have been my most read story.

In college, I discovered the joy of research. So much so, I wrote my professor’s dissertation on Charlotte Gillman Perkins. Even though assigned to do only the research and organize it in chronological order, it seemed natural to include a running narrative with it. To say she was appreciative was putting it mildly. She wrote endless references for whatever program or job I wanted. That was my first taste of the power of the written word.

College was as close to writing heaven as I thought possible. Papers were due every week. Fear of reprisal kept me from expressing my joy about these assignments around other students. It seemed like I was on my way to literary greatness at least in my dreams. Sometimes I imagined myself as another Hemmingway without the beard or the hard drinking. Even had two professors warring over me; one thought I should be a poet, the other a fiction writer. Why I couldn’t be both was beyond me.

At that time, I published a great deal mainly in anthologies, and an occasional magazine or book. Then it happened, the separation. Writing was forgotten when I married. Although I never forgot it, it seemed like my husband vehemently opposed it because it was something I did alone. If I’d known writing was not part of the deal, I wouldn’t have married at all.

Children followed, along with several across country moves. My life became full of the business of living. Every now and then, someone would find out I could write. Then I would pen the flyers for the school auction or the column for the weekly church newsletter. Still, I longed for those days of world building and typing out unforgettable characters.

Later on, as the kids left home, I fell into a local RWA group. The women were so kind and encouraging, even those who were multi-published authors. So, I started to write again. At first, I wondered if I still had the spark. The words came fast and furious along with the ideas. The characters spoke to me when I was driving, even when I was asleep. My first real publication was in A Cup of Comfort series book. I was so excited because they were even available at Wal-mart. I waited and waited for them, but they chose not to carry that particular edition at my Wal-mart store. I had to order all my copies from Amazon.

Just as I was getting my writing feet under me, Two things happened. My best friend died, and I divorced. As a result, I moved away from my supportive writing group for a job. For two years, I wrote articles, stories, even poems about dealing with my grief, and published a few. Still, I stumbled around wondering how I could be so foolish to even think I could write. The agent I thought I had went out of business without informing me. Needless to say, it was a dark time, but I continued to write.

Often I see writing as the way I make sense of the world. Other times it is my salvation. I have been fortunate in so many ways. RWA provided me with the chance to sit beside many excellent writers; I have found supportive friends and critique partners, and have published a few e-books, but no major novel yet. Ironically, I had difficulty calling myself a writer even though I had business cards printed up with that particular designation. I am trying. It is all part of the dream. Without dreams, we die.

I’d love to hear about the high and lows of your writer’s journey.


Joan Leacott said...

Hi Morgan, What a journey you've had! My lows were the deaths of my mother-in-law and mother in consecutive years. It took me four years to revise and edit an 80k MS I wrote in five weeks. My biggest high (so far) was finishing that book!

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Hey Morgan, I enjoyed reading your post. I wrote as a teen too, though not as much as you did. I gave it up for a corporate career. Now I'm back to it and don't know how I survived without writing down the crazy thoughts that played in my mind. To pass the time when I traveled on business trips, I made up stories about the people in the airport, on the plane, and in the hotel lobbies. :)

Lee Lopez said...

I've had so many highs and lows, I don't know where to start. It usually starts with, send me a full, and ends with that all to usual form letter, that says, "oops changed my mind. Writing is brilliant,but can't sell the story, but loved it." Oh, that's a good form letter, the other form letter says, that's not so good, "We're not acquiring at this time, even though we requested it."
That sums up my highs and lows. I must be stubborn or something, because I just keep going back for more.

morgan wyatt said...


I appreciate your comments and inspiration. I was afraid I wasn't a real writer because it took me so long to get back to the grindstone.


morgan wyatt said...

Dawn Marie,

I am so glad you're writing again. There is nothing like it, is there?

morgan wyatt said...

Never give up. I've heard so many stories about well known writers who were rejected continually. Hemmingway was rejected over 500 times and he finally started keeping company with a female publisher. Not being a manly man, I wonder if there is any hope for me in the dating approach.:)

Keep the faith.


Ana Morgan said...

Hi Morgan!
(FTHRW critique group-er waving.) Thank you for sharing your journey. We should take a week to get to know group members better. You are strong and perceptive, as your writing shows. Life's up's and down's make for good research.

Jill James said...

Morgan, I did the whole 'got married, had kids, writing stopped'. I had a special needs child and there are not enough hours in the day to call your own. I had the lows of my mother hating my writing, my mother dying, and a year of Prozac that did absolutely nothing for my writing. But thanks to Lee (above) my writing is back and I sold my first book this year.

morgan wyatt said...

Ana Morgan,

What a lovely name:)Waving to my critique partners. Tonight, I am sending out my partial request on the book you've painstakingly critiqued. It takes a village to keep a writer writing. Thanks a bundle.

morgan wyatt said...

Jill James,

You have persevered through so many obstacles. I am so happy for your success.:)

Joanne said...

My writer's journey started out quick, but it has slowed due to family and children obligations. Sounds like you're a very talented writer and an inspiration.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

My lowest part and highest part are connected. Writing is what got me through all the trips to the cancer clinic with my daughter and my writing friends are who pulled me through after her death. I am certain the best part of being a writer are the friends you make along the way. I am still not published, but the journey I've been on has been a blessing beyond anything I could have dreamed of when I started writing.

I've always written, too. Loved those term papers and projects at school and would turn in at least a two inch binder each time. No wonder my classmates were unhappy with me. That's where I found out about research and have loved digging for facts every since.

morgan wyatt said...

Think of all the family obligations as part of your research. I love the stories that have some detail that only mothers would understand. Thanks for commenting.

morgan wyatt said...

Hi Paisley,
I am so glad you've had a caring circle of writer friends to see you through the tough times. I am also glad to know there is at least one person out there who enjoyed writing all those essays. Keep writing--the actual creation is often blessing enough.

Mona Risk said...

Morgan, what a great post. My high was the minute I read the email offering a contract on my first book, To LOve A Hero. My lows... Every rejection was a low, but we move on. Also the lack of time to write is a continuous frustration.

morgan wyatt said...

I am absolutely convinced that you are the high on many writer's list because of your constant encouragement. Thanks. Sorry, I didn't see you at Nationals.