Monday, May 16, 2011

Traveling on the Writer's Journey

Photo by: Ed Coyle Photography on Flickr
This month with the blog chain, the topic is "The Journey." It could be any type of journey, but I thought I'd share a bit of my writer's journey.

I remember writing stories as early as around 2nd Grade. My favorite TV show at the time was Disney's Rescue Rangers. I was fascinated by the main characters: two chipmunks and two mice, especially the female mouse, Gadget. I even named a hamster after her. *grin*

My stories weren't sophisticated by any means. Although, looking back, I have found that some of my obsessions were clear even at that early age. (I have a hard time writing a novel-length story without a female side character being pregnant. Go figure that one out.) I was also already obsessed with right and wrong, even though my introduction to the mystery genre wouldn't happen until I was ten.

Enter: Nancy Drew and her cohorts, the Hardy Boys.

Sidenote: I still have a crush on Ned Nickerson and Frank Hardy.  Though, admittedly, I think I've got it worse for Tony Stark these days... Don't tell TMOTH. ;)

After reading almost every book in the multiple series I could get my hands on, I decided to try my hand at writing again--mostly because it was pretty much the only thing I would read and the publisher wasn't putting them out fast enough.

Long story short: started writing fan fiction, which eventually evolved into writing my own stories with new characters (although there were a lot of similarities to Nancy, Frank and Joe, as well as people in my own life.) Finished writing a novel, thought it was terrific. Sent it out to a couple of publishers (including some of the bigger ones.)

Ohhhhh Boy.

I ran across the notebook with some of that original draft in it a few years ago.

I am so glad I got rejected! Talk about embarrassing.

I was so blessed as a writer to start going to a Sister's in Crime chapter near my hometown in my late teens. And, though it was extremely painful, I attended the critique group that met separately almost religiously (until I met TMOTH, that is.) The ladies in the group were tough, yet kind, and really helped me see where I could mature as a writer. I still remember being so angry, mostly with myself, the first time I got an honest critique. It was very painful, but words I needed to hear.

That first group pointed out my flaws, and encouraged me to keep working. Slowly but surely, I improved.

But, then I moved away and got married.

For about a two-year period around the time I was dating, then after I married TMOTH, I did little to no writing, despite the fact I held a journalism degree. Slowly, I started writing again. I wrote one novel which I'm not sure will ever see the light of day to get the blood flowing again. Started a few more, then I caught an idea that wouldn't let go. Off I went, writing.

And writing.

And rewriting.

And having a baby or two.

And editing.

And tweaking.

And getting critiqued.

And editing some more.

And adding new scenes.

And now, that story is Homebody. Which I'm hoping to start getting into agents' hands this summer or early fall.

There's something to be said for those early attempts--and my first critique group. I wouldn't be half the writer I am today without early encouragement and constructive criticism. I've given out some tough critiques to people before, so I know it's not easy to give out hard words that need to be heard, but am I forever grateful to the five women who took time to help mold me into the writer I am today. So, thank you: Anne, Lori, Laurie, Janet and Nancy. I don't know where you are today as I lost touch after I got married, but I hope you have all gotten closer to your publishing dreams.

Photo by: Laurentzziu on Flickr

Before I go, let me remind you to check out everyone's posts this month:

Until next time,


TraciB said...

Wonderful post, Liberty. It sounds like we all start in similar ways - something we read or see sparks our imagination, and we have to write about it. I wish you great success in getting Homebody published in the near future.

Liberty Speidel said...

Thanks, Traci!

From Carol's Quill said...

Nicely told, Liberty. It's always fun to read about other writers' journey...both how they differ and especially how they are similar. Gives us a sense that we are not alone in all this.

lynnmosher said...

Liberty, I loved reading about your writing journey. I pray great success for Homebody. Keep on writing. Blessings!

Nona King said...

Hear, hear! Fan-fiction was a catalyst for me as well, from young adult fiction to science fiction and fantasy, and edgy romance. Like you, I wouldn't be the writer I am today without the fans and reviewers that taught me how to reach and dig deeper. Even still I am learning how to not 'settle' on the quality of the words on paper.

Thanks for sharing, Liberty! Awesome.

Tracy Krauss said...

It wonderful to see our 'writing babies' grow up! It is definitely a journey. Thanks for sharing yours.

Jan Christiansen said...

Thanks for a peek at your journey, Liberty. For me it was Trixie Belden. I loved her mysteries and would love to take a stab at writing one someday.

Victor Travison said...

My first forays into writing started in similar ways, including Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. But for some odd reason I never went the "married husband, got pregnant" route. Strange.

My first inspirations were cartoons, then sci-fi, then other stories. From age 8 on, I was hooked, though I was far from figuring out every nuance in every scene.

Wow, has it really been 50 years?

~ VT

Liberty Speidel said...

Thank you, everyone!

Sounds like we all had some similar inspirations.

BTW, I'm still a collector of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, plus a couple other Stratemeyer Syndicate series. I have quite a few antiques. :)

chris vonada said...

Very cool, thank you Liberty for sharing this, very interesting story!! Keep Being Great!!

Liberty Speidel said...

Thank you, Chris! :)

Adam Collings said...

I also delved into fan fiction in my teens and early twenties. I'd loved story writing as a child, but when I get really into Star Trek TNG it just burst out of me. I thought "writing in somebody else's universe can't be a good idea, I can never let people read it," but I just had to write it.

It's gret that you got back into writing after you got married. All the best to you as you take your story to an agent.

Sarah said...

It is neat to hear who inspires writers to become writers. For me, as a teen, it was Louis L'Amour. I had always loved to write, but it became an insatiable thirst after each book of his I read.

Thanks for sharing your writing journey, Liberty! :)

Liberty Speidel said...

Thank you both, Adam and Sarah!

TheWriteChris said...

Thanks for your honest thoughts on writing. I have a critique group who is ever so nice about their reviews that I don't feel I am really improving and learning. I'm glad you had some that gave you meaningful feedback.

Liberty Speidel said...


It is so important to find a critique group that will be tough on you. If I hadn't had that first group, I wouldn't be where I am today--even though that's still as an unpublished writer.

I have gotten quite a few tough critiques through fellow CWers, though I haven't posted anything for critique on CW in well over a year.

I hope you can find even one or two tough critters.

Cindee Snider Re said...

Liberty, I enjoyed learning a little about your writing journey. May Homebody find a publisher who will give it wings to fly!

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