Monthly Archives: June 2016

My first taste of the writerly life

I remember the point in my life when I started taking myself seriously as a writer.  Back when I was in high school, I was in a Barnes & Noble bookstore with my mom one afternoon when I spotted a poster advertising a writing contest for young writers.  Poetry was allowed, so I dusted off one of my least angsty-teenager poems and sent it off.  And I actually won!

As the recipient of the first ever Willamette Writers Young Writer Award (currently known as the Students Grades 9-12 category of the Kay Snow Writing Awards), I attended the annual Willamette Writers Conference for free.  My parents dropped me off at the hotel near the Portland Airport, and I approached the registration table timidly, all too aware of the fact that I was by far the youngest person present.

But soon enough I felt right at home.  I got my own name badge!  And a folder where I could collect all manner of workshop handouts!  I chatted with a woman who was writing a book about androids.  And a college student (the attendee closest to me in age that I saw) recommended that I read Fahrenheit 451.  I learned about character development and endings.  Author Steve Perry, from my hometown of Beaverton, cracked me up with the anecdotes he told in his workshop about speculative fiction.  I participated in writing exercises and felt the rush of inspiration under pressure.

I was a writer.

I still have that folder and the handouts.  I can see where I had scrawled Fahrenheit 451 on a corner of the conference program.  Yes, I think I even still have my name badge.  Attending that event was a milestone for me because it marked the first time I realized what a vast community of writers there was out there and how natural it felt for me to be among them.  These were my people.  They were curious and observant, encouraging and passionate.  Mr. Perry’s workshop in particular struck me because it was where I first got the idea to focus on speculative fiction.  I had always loved reading those subgenres, it just hadn’t occurred to me until then to take them on myself and devote my creativity to them.

Of course, there is no writerly life without the writing; attending conferences and workshops feeds part of the soul, but it is not the same as regularly committing words to the page and creating new worlds to be shared.  But I remain convinced that I would not be the writer I am today had I not been lucky enough to attend that conference.  It was a jolt, and quite frankly I still get a little giddy whenever I attend a writing event (such as Westercon, which I will be attending next weekend!).  And all from one little poem, and a serendipitous trip to a bookstore.

Some things never change (and some do)

This blog has been a long time in the making.  It seems a fitting venue for me to share my enthusiasm for writing.  I loved crafting stories from an early age and have dedicated much of my adulthood to studying the art form and trying to refine my own contributions.

A few years back, my parents gave me a plastic storage tub full of my old papers.  A good portion of these were little books I had cobbled together as a young girl.  Many were on scratch paper cut into quarters and stapled together, or glue-bound notepads that I’d turned sideways to look like typical book binding.  A couple were on paper napkins.  A few are from when I was so young, my mom’s handwriting appears under my rudimentary drawings, capturing what I had narrated to her because I literally hadn’t learned to write yet.

One of my personal favorites is from second grade.  I wrote it on 3-hole-punched paper, bound it with green yarn, and added an About the Author section in the back.  Included in this section was a cutout of my school portrait and a bio in which I described my eye color using the name of a Crayola crayon and bemoaned the fact that I didn’t have any pets. Check it out:

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Fast forward to adulthood, where my passion for telling stories in the written word continues.  I’ve got (lots of) rejection letters and (a couple) acceptance letters to prove it.  I’ve been working at this for years and years, and thus far I have a handful of publications to my name, including my first sale, a short story called “Venom in the Cloud Forest,” appearing in the Myriad Lands Volume 2 anthology from Guardbridge Books next month!

And although my eyes are the same color they were when I was seven, I now call them by the more generic and less confusing term “brown.”  Incidentally, though, I still don’t have any pets.