Why I started writing – Answering the simple question of “Why don’t you?”

When you know what you are meant to do, you have to do it.

I’ve always loved to write, but for some reason I never seriously pursued it.  Even at a young age, people saw something in me that I did not see in myself.

In elementary school a teacher nominated me to attend the Young Author’s conference.  How they saw potential in me when I was so young, I’ll never know.   It took many years to ever see that potential in myself.

Going into High School I got talked into signing up for journalism class by classmates and others who had read a few writing assignments I’d completed in middle school.   Journalism was the closest thing we had to a creative writing elective.  I was hesitant, but again, others saw something in me and encouraged me to pursue it. High school was also the first time that I genuinely pursued creative writing on my own.  I wrote a number of poems and started probably half a dozen novels that no, except perhaps my mother, ever saw or will see.

I left my writing behind when I went away to college.  The stories were still there, still weaving themselves to life inside my head, but I never wrote them down.  Whether for lack of time or lack of confidence, I didn’t write at all.  My focus shifted elsewhere:  friends, parties, making good grades, applying for jobs.  The list was endless, and writing was no where on it.

When I graduated and moved to Atlanta, GA for work I began to consider writing again.  My mother, my biggest and my fervent champion, even bought me a character naming book to help me come up with ideas.  More wondrous ideas filled my head:  far off places, adventure, magic, romance.  But again, I didn’t write any of them down.   Eventually the idea of writing got shelved again in favor of all the other many things consuming my time:  work, friends, church, working out, dating, travelling.  Writing just never seemed to fit in with the rest of my busy life.   Many people gave me little shoves in the right direction.  My grandparents even gave me a journal when I moved to Colorado so that I could write down my experiences and turn it into a book some day.  I still wish I’d done that, but for some reason I just kept putting the idea of writing aside.

It wasn’t until the summer of 2017, 14 years since my writing days in high school, that I was finally spurred into writing again and really committing to it this time.

One Saturday afternoon my husband and I were discussing dreams jobs – what we would of if money, time, ability, etc. were not a limitation.

“What would you do?” He asked me, after we’d talked at length about his dream career options.

The answer was on my lips before I’d even had time to consider it.  “I’d write novels and finally get all of these stories out of my head and onto paper.”

I still remember exactly where he was standing and the way his head cocked to the side when he asked the best questions he possibly could have.  “So why don’t you?  What’s stopping you?  Why not start right now?”

Why don’t you.  

It was my dream right, so what was stopping me?   I had a ton of excuses:  I don’t have time, I don’t even know where to start, English was my worst subject in school (true – until Accounting), no one will like my stories, I’m not good enough.   Some of my excuses were real, especially the one about time, but others were hurdles I’d created in my mind.  Things I had convinced myself of that were not necessarily true.

I would love to say that I started writing that day… but I didn’t.  Actually, it took several weeks before I started writing, but the question my husband asked that day stuck in my head and repeated itself to me over and over.  Why don’t you?  Why don’t you?  Why don’t you?   In the end, I didn’t really have a good excuse not to.

At the time I was travelling often for work.  I’d spend all day Sunday flying across the country to the east coast to work all week and then fly home.  I always enjoyed a good book, and would use those long cross-country flights to catch up on my reading.   One Sunday in August I clicked on my IPad and opened up a new e-book by one of my favorite authors – a book I had been looking forward to for months.   Disappointed filled me, so different and dampening from the normal joy and anticipation I found in writing.   There was nothing wrong with the book, in fact it was fabulous and is still one of my favorites.  The problem was that the book I really wanted, that I wanted to read above all others, was the one that had been taking shape inside my head.  Ever since my husband asked that fateful “Why don’t you?” the story that had been lingering in the back of my mind grew more vivid, more pronounced, practically shouting at me to be written.

It was in that moment, on a United Airlines flight somewhere over the middle of the United States, that I decided to write.  If I didn’t bring my book into life, no one would, and that would be such a waste because an incredible story was taking shape that I just had to read, even if I was the only one who ever read it.   I pulled out my laptop and began penning my first paragraphs right then.   I didn’t make it far, maybe a page or two.  Quite honestly the writing was a disaster and none of these words from those initial paragraphs made it into my final work (since I decided to advance the beginning to a later point than where I’d initially started).  But it was the beginning.  It was the start of an incredible journey, and I am so, so glad I wrote those words.

Once the water had been turned on, the story flowed out of me every chance it got.  I wrote on airplanes, in hotels, late into the night, weekends, long uber rides (seriously) and ever other moment I had free time.  And yall, I loved it.  I was working 50 to 60 hour weeks and even that didn’t stop me from cutting into my sleep to jot down a few words, a scene.  I did little else other than work, write, and sleep (to the point that my husband actually asked if our marriage was ok – sorry babe!), and I didn’t care, because I had finally figured out what I was supposed to do and I was doing it!

By Thanksgiving I had 90k words – a novel.  A novel in much need of editing and revision, but at the time I didn’t care because I was so happy just to have my story down on paper.

Only time will tell if my stories actually sell, but I’m so thankful to finally be doing what I love and bringing my stories into the world.  Now that I’ve really started, now that I know what I’m meant to do, I pray I never stop.

Thank you for joining me for this post, and I hope you’ll continue to stick with me throughout this journey.   🙂