I don’t remember the moment when I decided I wanted to be a writer.
What I remember is growing up and making up stories, either in my head or writing silly little garage plays and forcing my younger sister to act them out. I have always read, and I have always daydreamed. Looking back, I remember writing stories as a child; stories of little girls named Strawberry and Blueberry, stories of princesses with special powers, urban legends from our summer bible camp, even World of Warcraft fan fiction (don’t you dare judge me!) but for whatever reason it never occurred to me that writing stories could be a profession.
My first job out of college was in a zoo, a wonderful place for an active imagination, and when the weather became too cold and we sold very few tickets I’d often sit in my little office doing nothing, and so I read. When management told me I wasn’t allowed to read I decided, “okay, fine. I’ll just write my own story then…” and so I took a yellow legal pad and began.
This was in 2009. By 2010 I knew I had a story. Somewhere in the tangle of poorly developed characters, cheesy dialogue and highly suspicious and coincidental, not to mention predictable, plot lines there was a story, I just had to dig it out.
And while I wasn’t sure if it would be anything worth publishing, it excited me. It was the book I always wanted to read. That was enough.
These are the notebooks between the years of 2010, when I first started (see the yellow legal pads?) and the notebook I wrote in 5 minutes ago… Apart from the many many notes I have saved digitally, these are the raw scribbles and conception of my little world.
There are maps, graphs, charts, very ugly doodles, coffee stains, smeared ink and a few choice swear words where I stabbed the pen into the paper, ripping it from the looks of things, clearly furious with myself for not finishing the work. I have laid out timelines, chapter outlines, word counts from my 1st horrific draft, character motivation and voice yet still I’m not done.
I didn’t tell anyone I was writing a book, or wanted to write a book, or that I had an idea for one until the end of 2012, and then I casually mentioned it to my new husband. In 2014 I let him read a rough opening to a short story and he said he was impressed. I was proud of that. I wrote his quote on a post it and stuck it to my computer.
Marriage was new, I was coming into a better acquaintance with the world as an adult and I changed careers over and over again and grown up life bring stress and so the warm, comforting stories born of your imagination get pushed to the side… It’s difficult to luxuriate in imagination when reality is so demanding. From 2013 -2016 I worked at an art college and there I began to nurse my creative side back to health, constantly surrounded by younger kids who weren’t making my mistakes and were pursing something they were passionate about. My career at the school was pretty miserable but the students and faculty were an incalculable value to me.
I began pursing illustration, thanks to their inspiration and support and soon I was actively visiting comic cons as an artist, selling my work, meeting awesome people and opening an online shop which evolved into a legit business who’s focus has shifted into the creation of stationery goods. Every now and then, I’d revisit my story, talk to the select two or three people who I’d confided in, and I’d swell with happiness as tiny baby steps of progress appeared.
Bandwidth became more constrained and in 2017 I made an active decision to put all my effort into growing my little business and only focusing on that. In 2017 I did not write. By November I was burnt out and felt very dry. It was like a plant that you fail to water, and the soil becomes hard and cracked, and what was once full of color and life had faded and wilted. My husband began asking “Lacey, when are you going to finish your book?” and while I was pleased he wanted me to write, I also became sad.
Perhaps that’s what ultimately led me to declaring my desire to be a writer in a public and exposed domain. It is now 2018 and I am on the third draft before pursing publication. I have no idea what I’m doing, and have no idea how to begin the quest for publication but I do have a beta reader who gives me very harsh and much needed critiques. And, even know it has been terrifying to let someone else read my work and see my world, I’ve never been so motivated to bring it into greater light.
I dug these old notebooks out of the far corner of my studio’s closet. Their pages are pleasantly worn and there is well-loved and used feel about the paper that brings the same satisfaction as the many books on my shelves. Before writing this blog I flipped through them all, felt the crinkled paper, read my scribbles, amazed at how somethings have changed so much in my story and yet there are some aspects of it that have endured and remained just as they had the day I pulled a yellow legal pad from the zoo’s cabinets and began to write.