October 12, 2011

RTW: The Journey So Far

Happy 100th Road Trip, YA Highway!

Road Trip Wednesday is a 'Blog Carnival' where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic:
What has your writing road trip looked like so far? Excitement? Traffic Jams and detours? Where are you going next?   

My journey so far is probably closer to getting in and driving the car as far as the end of  my street than it is to an actual road trip (which wouldn't be legal as I don't have a license). I only just sat down and seriously started writing my story this past July. For years now I have thought about doing it, but never had the guts. I preferred to tell myself that a) I didn't have time, b) nobody would want to read anything I wrote, and c) I wouldn't even know where to begin. My writing experience was almost exclusively in the form of essays for school, and not a whole lot else. I'm sure I must have done some creative writing at some point during my years of schooling, but obviously it wasn't enough to make any kind of impact (or to even remember doing it).

Well, an Education degree, a couple years teaching, a job with the police, and no-current-job-to-show-for-it later, circumstances have conspired to give me both the time and the desire to plant my butt at the computer and give it a whirl. I am now about 80% of the way through my first draft (it needs A LOT of work still, but I'm getting there) and feel like there might be something to this WIP. Only time will tell. I've discovered:

  • I am a planner and not a pantser (which always makes me think of tanks)
  • I have difficulty making my setting come alive
  • I have to work extra hard to avoid the Sues and Stus
  • I need to watch my adverb, "umm", and "ugh" counts
  • I like strong heroines who still have a soft spot for gentlemen
  • and (most importantly), if I had known that I would love writing THIS much, holy buckets I would have started doing it SO much sooner.

Hindsight is 20/20 though, right? Instead, I spent a lot of money and time getting my teaching degree and was super stoked to get in there and actually do it. The kids were going to like me and I was going to inspire them to love learning. I was going to love my colleagues (I did, mostly), and I'd have this cool classroom with bright, shiny, motivational and educational posters plastered on the walls (I did). But overall I'd have to say that I felt more like a square peg in a round hole. Long story short: widespread cutbacks and no job later, I find myself surprisingly (or not?) almost relieved to not be doing it. I doubt at this point if I'll ever know whether it could have been more than just a job. 

You know how you're doing something and you feel like it is exactly the right thing that you are supposed to be doing in that moment? That's how I feel about writing now. I've only been at this for about 4 months now, but I definitely want to keep at it. In that brief amount of time I've:

  • met a bunch of really interesting, informative, and inspiring people through sites like YA Highway, among others - this is such a great community!
  • started a blog, which I never ever saw myself doing (Ever)
  • learned SO much about the process of writing and the many ways to give a story life
  • actually gotten better at writing by doing it nearly every day, reading back over what I've written, and tweaking it to no end 
  • been introduced to a pile of books that I may never have heard of anywhere else through recommendations on the blogosphere (some of these books have made me want to write even more)
In a word, it's AWESOME, and I want more. We'll see where the road takes me, but I can say that this is something I plan on doing for a long time to come. It won't be like card-making*.

*A brief, expensive, and fun-for-a-while hobby that I feel only 'meh' about now.


  1. It's amazing how many people fail to recognise that practising writing will make you a better writer. I had to discover that for myself as well! THERE IS NO MAGIC FORMULA. HARRY POTTER LIED.

  2. "and (most importantly), if I had known that I would love writing THIS much, holy buckets I would have started doing it SO much sooner."

    YES! Not that I wouldn't have done the things I did for the 20-or-so years I wasn't writing fiction, but think of all that time I could have been practicing, learning, honing...! Anyway, thanks for the post. I wish you every success with your WIP, Jaime!

  3. Like you, I wish I had started devoting more time to writing fiction sooner! (And I wish my grad school had been for writing, not reading--oh well!)

  4. "if I had known that I would love writing THIS much, holy buckets I would have started doing it SO much sooner." I'm here too!

  5. Holy buckets is right! I waited 38 years to start writing, but AM so glad I did!

    PS - your bulleted list is EVERYTHING I love about what I do.

  6. @Georgia: There is definitely something to the saying "practice makes perfect" (maybe not perfect, but 'better').

    @Colin: It's amazing how much time we waste wishing we were doing something rather than doing it. It's never too late though.

    @Rebecca: I too wish I'd opted to major in writing in University. Ah well. Such is life :)

    @Jennifer: I think there are a lot of us who feel this way :)

    @Alison: There are a lot of great things about what we do, and it was hard to narrow it down to just those (plus, can you tell I love bulleted lists?)

  7. "You know how you're doing something and you feel like it is exactly the right thing that you are supposed to be doing in that moment?"

    I'm there too, and isn't that just the greatest feeling EVER?! It's a long road, and can be torturous at times, but it is SO worth it when you're doing something you love. :)

  8. I love your comment about the card-making. I, too, jump into expensive, fun-for-a-while hobbies and then drop out of them. Scrapbooking, for one, lol.

    But that aside, yay for finding something to stick to, where you feel like you belong :) Holy buckets, indeed!

  9. @Holly: It is such a great feeling :) I feel like even if my story goes nowhere, this is a great experience and I love what I'm doing.

    @Crystal: Scrapbooking...been tempted to do that too :) At least with card-making I have fun materials I can use for other stuff. Maybe.

  10. Love the holy buckets. It's great to hear that you discovered how much you love it!

  11. I'm impressed by the word count under your belt in such a short time, especially since as you've realized a lot of the early improvements come with JUST WRITING. You're way ahead of the game to know that!

  12. Ah, the fear. It's kind of annoying when you really wan to do something and it keeps holding you back, huh? Glad you found the time and self-confidence to follow your dream. It's a long journey, but so worth it.

  13. Alicia: Thanks :) I only wish it was sooner.

    Angelica: I've been unemployed since not long before I started writing. I have nothing but time on my hands, which I have spent a good chunk of on writing.

    Tracey: We're sometimes our own worst enemies, aren't we? I still panic a little when I think about it, but mostly I'm just enjoying it :)

  14. I wish I had started sooner, too! What a fun trip this has been!

  15. Jaime, congrats on starting your writing journey! You've learned a ton about yourself as a writer so far. I'm so impressed =)

  16. Okay, your bullet points of "things discovered" could totally and completely apply to me as well! I have very similar (weird) writing tics and challenges, and I SO wish I would have started earlier. Here's to lots of good news and success in your future!

  17. I love your post and the bullet list. I too wish I'd started earlier (or at least believed in myself earlier) with writing seriously.

  18. Good luck with the continuation of your journey. It's refreshing to see such honesty in a post.

  19. @Jessica: It has been fun!

    @Lora: Thanks! I can't even begin to say how much I've learned in such a short time.

    @Katy: I don't think we're alone with the weird writing tics :) Thanks for the wishes & right back at you!

    @Cindy: Thank-you! Seems like there are a lot of us wishing we'd jumped in sooner.

    @Kathy: Thank-you very much :)

  20. Man, I share your "I should have started sooner" sentiment! But, looking back, I think I started when I ought to have started. If I think about it, I needed all the slow starts and the time to research and know myself to appreciate the journey that I'm on now.
    Thanks for sharing and happy writing to you!

  21. Liza: I think you're onto something here. It's like wishing away all of your mistakes despite the fact that they've made you who you are today. Happy writing to you too (and welcome!) :)


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