Coming out of the closet…as a writer

I’ve been writing since I was seven – putting stories together, bits of dialogue.  I remember my first real story in elementary school.  I’ll spare you the full-blown details (as I don’t remember much, lol) but it was an action packed sci-fi piece that I later turned into a play and got to produce for a performing arts camp I attended.  It was GREAT.  Got a standing ovation.  Since then, I was hooked.  I wanted to be a published author.

As I got older though, I was taught that work was something you did for some one else; my creative  writing was seen as a hobby, not a career.  Consequently, my desire to be a published author took a backseat to working for a living.  I remember on one job, my boss circulated an article about “dressing for success” as certain members on our team were having a hard time adhering to the company dress code.  When it came time for me to read the article, I highlighted one of the headings – “Dress for the Position You Want”.  I then wrote a note on a sticky, “If I were to do this, I’d be coming to work in my fuzzy robe, my comfy pajamas and slippers because what I really want to do is write.”  My boss stopped bothering me about the dress code.

I had cut my “reading teeth” on Edgar Allen Poe, Stephen King, Lovecraft, Matheson and other horror writers.  My earlier writing was dark and brooding; typically the plots involved plenty of death and destruction.  There was one erotic paragraph written in total secrecy because I was all of twelve and wasn’t supposed to have any carnal knowledge what-so-ever.  Maybe one day I’ll tell you the inspiration for it, lol.

Back to the main blog here –  you can imagine my surprise when I sat down to write my first real manuscript in 2003 and a here-to-fore, unexplored (by me) genre called Chick-Lit proceeded to flow across my computer screen.  I had only read one Harlequin Romance novel ever.   I’d begrudgingly watched (and secretly enjoyed) movies like Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine, Sixteen Candles, and Labyrinth (Chick-Flicks) – the closest thing to Chick-Lit I had growing up.  But my literary life otherwise was a never-ending stream of nightmares, from vampires to werewolves, ghosts, goblins and the supernatural.  How in the world did my first character turn out to be a woman in her mid 30’s, struggling with life after a divorce, all the while learning to love herself, and of course, ending up with the true love of her life?  There wasn’t a vampire or zombie in the whole story.

After finishing that manuscript, I cast it aside, dubbing it a freak of nature.  The story must have come from memories of my divorce and the dating I had done since.  Having it out of my subconscious must have surely cured me of this affliction and my next manuscript would reinstate my horror sensibilities.  But alas the next few manuscript drafts could all be classified as erotica, romance…(gack) Chick-Lit.  Even my action characters seem to be Chick-Lit-esqe.  Oh sure, they’re hard core, kick-ass women who fight demons, monsters and rude men; can drink with the best of ‘em, and curse like sailors when provoked, but underneath it all they still share that Chick-Lit heroine longing for love and acceptance.  And the sex!  I remember the racier romance novels being called, “bodice rippers”.  Don’t know if that’s because the heroes tending to rip the clothes from the heroines or if because the reader (typically a woman) would be breathing so heavily by the end of it, the laces on her “bodice” would be stretched to ripping.  However it worked out, the writing I produced was most definitely NOT horror.

So, shelved my writing yet again.  Until 2008.  The idea to explore writing as a possible career resurfaced.  I gathered my resources, did some research, and took a tentative first step toward becoming a novelist by self publishing my first book.  I officially came out of the closet as a writer with a serious desire to share my work with the world.

Since then, I’ve learned a thing or two about writing and publishing as a business.  I now want to share my growing knowledge and my writing with other “closet writers.”  I’m going to create a safe environment in which other authors like me, can come out and say to the world, “Hi World, my name is _________, and I’m a writer!”

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