Turning Someday into Today

This week at The Parking Lot Confessional we’re talking about how got where we are now.

I’m one of those people who always wanted to be a writer. My mom loves to tell of how I wrote stories when I was little. (She still has them.) I was an avid reader, gobbling up books faster than she could get me to the Book Mobile each week. During my high school years I wrote dreadful poetry. (Like, really dreadful.) In college, as an English major, I focused all of my papers on the lives of the authors behind the books I studied. When I look back now that makes sense: I was interested in the people who’d lived my dream. I even took an occasional creative writing elective.

But I never had the courage to change my major, to pursue writing. Writing wasn’t practical. “What would be your day job?” people would ask. So I stayed with the practical route, earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in Literature, with the intent of teaching.

Years passed and I became a career girl. I tucked my writing dream into a corner in the closet, and labeled it “Someday”.

Six years ago, Someday arrived.

I’d given up my career life for motherhood. My daughter was an infant, and I was battling postpartum depression. Every day felt like a struggle against a dark and miserable foe — myself. Part of my recovery involved making time to pursue those things I’d enjoyed before the depression hit. So I took time to dabble in art, to read, to enjoy beautiful things.

To write.

Just for myself. Little stories and poetry (still dreadful). The depression eventually lifted and I emerged from that dark period a new person.

I took my first bold step toward a writing career when I entered the 3-Day Novel contest in 2003. I locked myself away from my husband and baby for 72 hours and wrote my heart out. My first novel (novella, really). Talk about a rush! When I finished the final paragraph less than an hour before the midnight deadline, I bawled. Not to be corny about it, but it really was like giving birth. Giving life to my writing. Giving life back to myself.

I placed third in the contest.

I took that as an affirmation that, yes, I really was meant to be a writer. And to be a writer, I had to keep writing.

I delved into short stories (I’d given up the poetry by then…mostly) and began sending them out to literary journals in hopes they’d find homes. I didn’t really know what I was doing (as if I do now) but I met with some success. In that year, three stories were published in journals and a children’s story was published in an anthology.

In the years that followed, I had another child, faced another bout of PPD and — determined not to lose myself this time — began seeking out workshops and classes to learn what this writing thing was all about.

Always I kept writing, even beginning a couple of novels. Not having a clue what I was doing, though, they each fizzled out around page 50. I sought out a novel workshop, and landed in a class at Phoenix College, led by James Sallis.

Not only did I find there an incredible mentor, but I befriended a number of writers in the same place I was — navigating this writing life, determined not to give up, desperate to flesh out ideas into full-fledged stories.

I’m so grateful for The Parking Lot Confessional. I wouldn’t be where I am now without these good people. These encouragers. These friends who care enough to ask how often I’m keeping my butt in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard.

Now the focus of my Someday has changed from starting writing to getting published. I’m working everyday, getting my WIP (YA novel) ready to query. I’m researching agents and networking on Twitter and Facebook. Each day I take another step toward turning Someday into Today.

My hope is to encourage you with our sharing of information, of struggles, of rejections, of successes. My hope is that as you read my and the others’ entries, you’ll be inspired to turn your Somedays into Todays as well.