For the love of writing
You might have guessed by now that I love to write. Before that, of course, I had to love to read. My pediatrician swore til the end of his life that I started reading before I was 2 by reading signs on the walls of his office. I know before I started school, my daddy took me with him to his Saturday morning coffee get-together with his buddies at the local drug store (yes, this was back when drug stores had lunch counters and soda fountains, and dinosaurs roamed the earth. LOL) and I earned quarters by reading the morning paper to the fellows. I bought a lot of Silly Putty and comic books and balsa wood airplanes that way.
The writing started not long after that. I dabbled in songwriting in third grade with my best friend, and over the following years wrote poems, Nancy Drew knockoffs, and fanfic for everything from The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (what can I say, I had a crush on Kurt Russell) to The X-Files. I wrote nonfiction too, and won a nice prize in college for an essay about C.S. Lewis' Narnia. It wasn't until I'd graduated and started working that I began to try longer forms. I wrote three novels, but had no luck at publishing, because as one editor said, my stuff had too much romance to be accepted as sci-fi, fantasy or horror, and too much of those to be accepted as romances. Huh. Nowadays we call those urban fantasies and paranormal romances. Guess I was ahead of my time, writing stuff I wanted to read.
The Internet was a godsend for us writers who hadn't broken through in conventional publishing. When I quit working last summer to care for mom, I had enough time (initially) to go over my manuscripts. I took the cleanest one, and with encouragement from a cousin with training in the business, self-published it through Amazon. It's called King's Game, and you may have noticed a link to it on the front page of this here blog.
I have some other ideas in that same universe, but the other two novels that are done are not. One is a country music horror story, the other is a scifi murder mystery about a shapeshifting alien spy with amnesia and an undercover cop hunting his lover's killer. Can't decide which one to tidy up and publish next!
Most writers don't make a living off novels, though, so I started applying for all sorts of freelance gigs, since they could easily be done from home while caring for mom. Slowly, things have started to trickle in. A few weeks ago I landed a spot writing lessons for the web site Study.com, in their healthcare and nursing department. Right now, they want a lot of articles about autism, which I've always been interested in. Even better, they don't want dry educational stuff; they want little stories that teach, with named characters and engaging situations, so I can scratch my fiction itch too. (I amused myself on the last one by naming all the characters after the cast of an obscure TV show I like.)
I'm also working on a couple of articles to submit to another web site for possible publication; and now, I just got an email from another application, inviting me to set up a phone interview for another gig. This one, believe it or not, is essentially ghostwriting letters to Congress! If I land this one, I feel I can legitimately call myself a professional writer, after all these years. My biggest challenge is working the jobs in around caregiving. Thankfully, I can write pretty quickly, so if I can get mom settled down for a couple of hours, I can usually take a lesson article from start to finish. Sometimes she understands that I'm working, trying to earn a little money, and appreciates it, but not often. Like most folks with dementia, her mind is on her needs most of the time.
It's never too late to go for what you love. I have a friend, a fellow therapist, who had to quit working after throwing her back out. Art was her first love, and now she is flourishing and selling her works all over town!