How I Became a Writer

Mary Beth wrote this on her blog, and I thought it was a fun thing to think about. (I'm a shameful thief this week - blame it on a bad bad bad weekend.)

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What made me a writer?

Reading my collection of Trixie Belden books until they literally fell to pieces? The ones I hauled with me to California on a road trip, and my dad had a hissy because they were all over the car (I didn’t have nearly as many totes in those days.)

Writing poems when I was eight, copying them over and over and illustrating them to give as gifts to my family? As I recall, I wrote a poem for every holiday. I wish I could remember the Fourth of July one ;) When we were going through my grandmother’s stuff after she died, we found a copy of the book. It was on newsprint, for heaven’s sake!

Memorizing the poem about the fog rolling in on cat’s feet?

My grandmother buying me every Harlequin romance with a horse on the cover (usually Janet Dailey – sorry, Nora) and subscribing me to every horse book club there was.

Seeing Grease and One on One in the same summer and writing a story with elements of both, and handing it to my stepmother to read on that same road trip?

Was it sitting in a motor home out near Eagle Pass and pouring desires I barely understood into a story about a rodeo cowboy?

Was it Mrs. Pollack and Mrs. Stephens who helped me with writing, encouraged me, even sponsored a creative writer’s club for me and other writers in high school?

Or Joey … I want to say Temporelli … sitting with me in Mrs. Pollack’s class, reading my descriptive paragraph (of Charlie Waters, remember that poster?) and saying I was a really good writer.

Writing serials with my buddy Kirsten about our group’s adventures with rock stars.

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Then I started reading romance, after I got out of college. Karen Robards was my first, and I devoured her books, then moved to Catherine Coulter. I remember one of her old old books where the hero had tawny eyes. It was such a cool description at the time. Back then, the heroes and heroines were separated for long periods of time, remember? I moved on, and on, and on, and was just ravenous for these books, for the happy endings, for falling in love.

I wrote in spirals when I was working at the drug store, on the back of sales fliers, on anything I could lay my hands on, but I never finished a book.

And then I did. And another one. And like Mary Beth, I found my chapter, with people like me. It’s hard to remember what it was like before I knew people with stories in their heads. I hardly remember what it was like to not have email loops and message boards of people who wanted the same thing I did.

What made you a writer?

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Happy Fourth!!!

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Marianne Arkins said...


Interesting to think about... so, I'm going to "think about" it tomorrow on my blog. Thanks (cuz I'm a happy thief, too!).

This line made me choke up:

It’s hard to remember what it was like before I knew people with stories in their heads.

Because I am so SO grateful to the folks I know in my writing groups. They are my foundation. I wouldn't be the writer -- or the person -- I am without them.

Peggy said...

Happy 4th of July!!

I think my reasons mirror your own. I loved Janet Dailey. Gobbled her up not nearly fast enough. And Grease? I wanted to be Olivia Newton-John with her poodle skirt and cute little blonde pony-tail. And my first Nancy Drew had a horse on the cover because my mom knew how much I loved horses and thought I would be interested. And she was right.

Colleen Gleason said...

I can't remember not being a writer. When I was in second grade, I wrote a story for school (maybe third grade) that everyone kind of noticed--my mom especially.

And that was when The Waltons were on TV, and so my mom would say things like, "Maybe you'll be a writer some day like John-Boy and Laura Ingalls Wilder."

The stories have always been there. I just haven't always had the discipline to pull them out.

And having friends like you and the WNP makes it so much easier--now that I know there are other people out there who are the same way.

Kelly Boyce said...

I think two things started me on the writing path. In grade 2 my teacher showed up one day with a box of cards. Each card had a plot/idea on it. I wanted to fail grade 2 so I could go through the entire box and write a story for each. My parents had other plans...

Then in grade 7 I read a short story called "On the Sidewalk Dying" and I realized that's what I wanted to do. Not lay on the sidewalk dying, but to write a stories that moved me like that one did.

Anonymous said...

It's so cool to read what motivated other people to write and to see how finding other who share our dream has helped!
Happy 4th!

Anonymous said...

Reading and loving romance. I was always that kid that wanted Charlie Brown and Lucy to get together lol

Rene said...

I don't know. It was always there. I knew I had a knack for it back in 6th grade. OH I KNOW!!

Victoria Holt. I started reading Victoria Holt the summer before 7th grade and I knew I wanted to write just like her. And I tried to. Then I read Kathleen Woodiwiss the summer between 7th & 8th grade and I decided I wanted to write just like her. I guess that's where it started.

Shesawriter said...

I honestly don't remember. I just started doing it one day. LOL! Seriously.

Anonymous said...

I hope you had a lovely July 4th, Mary :)

MJFredrick said...

Marianne, isn't it great to know people who "get" you?? If I'm never published, I'll be grateful for the people I know.

Peggy, we must have been separated at birth!!!

Colleen!!! How could I have forgotten Laura Ingalls? I'd read those books so many times, when I was in 4th grade and we did a unit on them, the teachers let me help make this big mural across the doors of the closets! I was forever making paper dolls and dresses for them. And I also wrote two plays in elementary school that the teachers let me put on!

Kelly, I love the story about wanting to stay in 2nd grade to write all those stories!!! That is so neat. I wish I could motivate my class like that!

Mary Beth, this was a great idea.

Kendra, LOL on Lucy and Charlie Brown! They were DEFINITELY in conflict!

Rene, that's really cool!

Tanya, seriously?? The stories just came in your head?

Thanks, Bonnie. It was....adventurous.


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I'm a mom, a wife, a teacher and a writer. I have five cats and a dog to keep me company. I love bookstores and libraries and Netflix - movies are my greatest weakness.
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