Writing: A Hobby Out of Controlby Terry McLaughlin
I've often said I never wanted to be a writer. It just sort of...happened. However, I can trace the genesis today's blog post to two accidents (or, in writing lingo, inciting incidents).
First accident: taking a class I didn't need. But that class was in the right building at the right time on the right day of the week, so I signed up. That's how I met the professor who told me to write a book someday.
Second accident: reading a book I thought was a mystery. But I discovered it was a romance when I asked a bookstore clerk if the author, Nora Roberts, had ever written anything else. That's how I discovered the romance genre.
And so, with a nudge from a teacher and a craving for love stories, I decided to give writing a shot. Once I'd written a couple of chapters of my very first story, I challenged myself to finish the manuscript. And once I'd finished, I challenged myself to get it sold. It was a huge dare, the biggest trick of my life, and I wanted to see if I could pull it off.
But I still didn't consider myself a writer, not even after I attended a weekend seminar presented by a novelist who came to town. When my husband asked me what I'd learned, I told him I'd learned there were twenty-two local people willing to pay $200 to find out how to get published. I figured as soon as I sold a book, I'd travel around and get rich giving my own seminars. After all, I was a teacher, not a writer.
And then I discovered writing conferences. Pahrr-teee! I got my first manicure, and then my first pedicure, and I jetted around the country having tons of fun. At last I'd found a reason to write: writing conferences! Although my writing took a vacation while I vacationed with my new writing buddies...until my husband threatened to ground me if I didn't finish the current work-in-progress. I wrote the final 100 pages under duress, enduring my first deadline ordeal. But that story was my first Golden Heart final, my ticket to the Wet Noodle Posse and, two years later, my first sale. (I dedicated it to that college professor.) As you can see, another series of accidents.
I remember telling one of my conference roommates that I wanted to sell just one book, just to see if I could do it. Once I'd pulled off my big trick, I could retire.
Seven books later, I'm still at it. Go figure. And not only did I get myself an agent, not only am I giving novel-writing classes at the local library (for free!), I'm a member of the board of directors of Romance Writers of America. What in the world happened? I have no idea. This whole writing thing has spun completely out of control.
And the craziest thing is that when people ask what I do, I tell them I'm a writer.