Susan Edwards ~ Myth, Magic & Wonder
A couple days ago, I redesigned my banner for my website and sent it to my son who deals with my website. I loved what I did but knew he’d find fault. After all, he’s a programmer, which makes pleasing his sensibilities with my creativity nearly impossible. And <sigh>, I was right. He vetoed most of what I did which set me to wondering what happened to that creative little boy who along with his younger sister were responsible for me discovering my own writing talent.
You see, I haven’t always been a writer. Unlike so many authors who say they’ve always loved writing, I had never wanted to write anything, except maybe chatty letters to friends or my great-grandmother (who loved receiving mail) or notes to pals in class. Okay, I’ve dated myself here because I grew up without computers, emails, social media or text messages! Writing entailed pen & paper or typewriter, neither of which works with my creative process. Anyway, growing up I absolutely hated writing, did not excel in English and thought history the most boring subject on earth! So it’s rather strange and ironic that not only am I a writer but I’ve published 12 historical romances. Well, back to my little story here.
When my son was in grade school, his teachers were very impressed with his writing and his creative storytelling. Same thing happened with my daughter. Both kids were very creative and did very well at writing and telling stories. I was mystified at where they got their talent but glad they enjoyed the writing experience. Of course, we as a family were big readers so I figured that helped.
In that same time period, I was reading historical romances. Mostly Native American/Westerns. And I was getting bored with what was out there and had read most of what appealed to me. Why wasn’t there more of what I want to read? It was very frustrating, especially when I had this great idea for a story that I wanted to read and couldn’t because it wasn’t written.
And here it comes. You see, I had two things going for me that led to my current writing career. First and foremost, I was, and still am, an avid reader of romance (write what you know). Second, I am a natural-born storyteller. I can still remember using my dolls and stuffed animals to create stories and “situations” for them. As I grew up, my need for storytelling did not fade away. I had stories in my head day and night.
However, I did not think of them as stories or write them down or tell them to others. I figured I was an oddity, that no one had scenarios playing in their heads that demanded that I pay attention to them. But it turns out they were stories. I created them, scene by scene. I rewrote them then went back to individual scenes and rewrote again and again until I was satisfied. Once a “story” was perfected, another story would take shape and the process would repeat. Many times, an old story would return with the clarity of story in a book. I could “re-read” it and make changes. Even years later this could happen.
Of course, I figured I was just an incurable daydreamer. My teachers and parents certainly thought so! 🙂 It wasn’t until I was in my 40’s and had already sold my first book that I discovered that my daydreaming was actually storytelling! All the elements we writers require for our books were in my dream worlds. I had the good guys, the bad guys, the conflict, the black moment and the happy-ever-after. Does all this sound like a writer? Yep.
So here I am in those before-I-became-a-writer days, consuming books about strong heroines and handsome warriors like an ocean swallowing a beach until that idea came to me, that book I wanted to read and couldn’t. There was a heroine who meets a young, virile Native American hero at stream. This “story” kept intruding on my thoughts—more so than normal. Also, I could not move this story forward to “the end” which was very strange as I could see these two characters so clearly: she was running away from an evil uncle, and my hero was a troubled young warrior.
Before I knew it I had a nice little scene going of these two people so in love and so right for each other. And it was the perfect place to put them into a nice hot love scene. But something was wrong. First, this couple wanted more from me. They were so insistent that I did something I’d never done before: I took them out of my head and gave them life on paper (good thing I had a computer by this time). Okay, I thought. I’ll write a nice, steamy love scene. I could see it, feel it, so no problem, end of story, right?
Wrong! Before I could write about these two people falling in love and having their happily-ever-after, I had to know more about them.
- Why was my heroine alone in the wilderness?
- Why was she fleeing her uncle? What did he want and how bad did he want it?
- What troubled my warrior and why was he in the same vicinity as my heroine?
- Why was he drawn to my heroine aside from her blonde hair? Why her and only her?
- Was he willing to risk it all for her?
Before I knew what hit me, I had four chapters of back story. I was shocked. But it couldn’t possibly be any good. So I gave it to a couple of people to read. One of my closest friends looked at me after she finished those chapters with awe in her face (I still remember that look) and she said two words that sealed my future: Finish It. The rest they say is history! The writer within was set free and an author was born!
I choose this topic for this blog because I never, ever considered writing to be a hidden talent. I would have loved to see the looks on some of my old teachers faces, especially a couple of past high school English teachers as I’m pretty sure (as sure as there is always death and taxes in life) that none of them would have predicted that I would become a writer, let alone a published author. And perhaps things would have been different had I not listened to that inner voice telling me to step out of my comfort zone and put that first story down on paper and take a chance that someone might read it. Yes, it was scary to let others read it, and see what went through my mind. But it was well worth it for I made an amazing discover about myself.
The path I set upon started with committing a story to paper. But that was only one step of the process (aside from letting others read it). It took me 3 years to finish the story between all the aspects of life, husband and children. Add another 4 years of writing and rewriting and learning the craft of writing and submitting and getting rejection after rejection before an editor asked for a full manuscript. Add another year before I had my first offer, then yet another year before that first book, White Wind was on the bookshelves in 1996. Nine years total! Wow! It should come to no surprise to learn that I can be very stubborn and determined.
It’s now about 15 years later and once again I’m anticipating seeing my first book hit the shelves with a new cover in its new digital format with Carina Press. The excitement and anticipation is the same, as is the worry–will readers like my baby! Some things do not change! So in retelling this story, it is my hope that someone reading this makes a self-discovery of their own.
Are you harboring a writer within? If so, what are you doing about it? I’d love to hear your “writer within” stories.
- Have you discovered a hidden talent during your adult years? If so, what and how do you feel about it.
- Have you discovered something about yourself through your children?
- What do you read, why and how does that genre make you feel?
Check out my website http://susanedwards.com where I have a contest running. Sign up for my mailing list and I will enter you into a separate contest for a tote bag filled with goodies. Winner will be drawn January 1, 2012. There will be 7 separate contests, each added to my website.