My first story, "written" at the tender age of five, was about a hot dog who falls in love with a banana. From there I wrote evermore fantastic and magical stories about talking animals (and things) and fictional lands, influenced by whatever fantasy or sci-fi novel I was reading. It may have helped that I lived in some pretty fantastic places (England, Hong Kong, Tokyo, England again) during my first 12 years of life.
But back in the United States I started middle school, and my fiction-writing suffered the slings and arrows of adolescence, that deadly concoction of hormonal fog and mind-numbing embarrassment. I turned to the visual arts, started reading more "reality"-based fiction and stopped writing for fun altogether.
Ultimately, I did become a professional writer: a newswriter and reporter in Washington, DC; a public relations professional in San Francisco; and a marketing and advertising strategist and copywriter in Minneapolis.
For 25 years, I wrote and wrote. A lot. I honed my skills and was paid quite well. But I wrote not one word of fiction and, other than a book for children I started with one of my daughters when she was three (Monsters Love Peanut Butter) or the occasional journal entry, nothing for myself. (Well, there was that TV show idea I pitched to the head of E! Network in Hollywood that one time. But that's another story).
One habit I did continue from childhood was reading. Voraciously. All genres, all eras, all the time. Doing all the voices out loud to my children; silently, in the quiet of the night, when no one else was awake.
Then six years ago, something happened. I sat up late on my forty-fourth birthday and wrote, then published, my first blog essay. While I hoped it would touch others, it was the first thing I had written just for me, just for fun, since I was thirteen.
Two years into writing my blog Seriously, I realized what I'd been doing: exercising and strengthening a muscle that had been out of use for a long time but one that was dying to get back in the game. That's when I had the idea of writing a novel loosely based on my grandmother's life.
Fast forward to today, when, after many bumps, stops and starts (and a million drafts), Creatures of Time, my first book, a young adult fantasy, was finally finished.
The story came from somewhere outside of me without too much effort. But getting it down, and getting it down right, was the most difficult thing I've ever done, other than raising two daughters.
Sure, writing fiction for myself has proven to be a roller coaster unlike anything I can compare it to, other than childrearing (I shall refrain from some very obvious metaphors and similes about babies and books here). But just like I can't imagine my life without those children of my heart, body and soul, now that writing from those same depths is in my life, I can't imagine it being any other way.