My First

140323-164946I didn’t want to be a writer.

Don’t get me wrong. Growing up, I loved to read and write. It just never occurred to be to want to be a writer. I wanted to be a teacher.

I realized at some point in high school that it would be hard for me to be a public school teacher. For one, I didn’t have an abundance of patience for large groups of kids (still don’t). Plus, with only one working vocal cord, how on earth would I be able to talk (loudly) day in and day out. My voice would be gone before I turned 30!

Thus began the struggle to find myself.

In college, I didn’t know what I wanted to be. I just knew I wanted to help people. I bounced back and forth between wanting to be a social worker and wanting to be a drug and alcohol abuse counselor.

One of my bosses asked me, “What makes you think you can be an alcohol and drug abuse counselor?”

I shrugged. I didn’t know—I just wanted to help.

He shook his head. “Have you ever had to overcome some kind of addiction?”

I shook my head.

“Have you ever tried drugs?”

Shook my head again.

Guess that career path may not be for me—I could still be a social worker, though. Except, could I really take kids from their homes? Could I be strong when they were in tears?

“There’s no money in that,” someone told me once. Really, I didn’t care about the money, never have. But when you combined my real fears and the thought of barely being able to afford an apartment, it shook me up a bit.

Now what do I do?

Drop out of school, of course. Why waste the money when you don’t know what you’re going to do?

One day, about four years later, I was sitting at work (bank teller), chatting with a co-worker. I don’t remember how we got on the subject, but she was telling me about how her bus driver in 8th grade had turned out to be an estranged grandmother who had gotten the job just to be near her.

This sparked an idea. What if it had been her father (he was supposedly dead)? And what if her father was protecting her? What if he had been part of a heist where the money had gone missing and he had gone to jail? What if those men were still looking for the money? What if . . .

Thus was born the first (in a long time) story idea: The Bus Driver.

Of course, this YA suspense is in the back of my closet and may never see the light of day again, but it was my first. I learned so much just in writing that first draft. I didn’t stick with it long after the first draft, as another novel idea popped into my mind.

I tumbled into the world of writing, head first. Now, here I am, several years later. I’m still not published, but with each book, I’ve gotten closer and closer. Editors and agents actually seem interested. Maybe this dream is close at hand. Maybe I’ve found the perfect place for me.

What about you? Where did you first get the writing bug? That first “real” story?


About Ralene Burke

Whether she’s wielding a fantasy writer’s pen, a freelance editor’s sword, or a social media wand, Ralene Burke always has her head in some dreamer’s world. And her goal is to make it SHINE! She has worked for a variety of groups, including Realm Makers, The Christian PEN, Kentucky Christian Writers Conference, and as an editor for a number of freelance clients. Her first novel, Bellanok, is being published as a 4-part serial! When her head’s not in the publishing world, she is wife to a veteran and homeschooling mama to their three kids. Her Pinterest board would have you believe she is a master chef, excellent seamstress, and all around crafty diva. If she only had the time . . .

8 comments on “My First

  1. Writing – both non-fiction and fiction, prose and poetry – is what I love most and do best. People have always said I write very well, even in my letters.

    I thought I would be a scientist when I grew up, but my efforts as a creative writer find their roots in the role-playing games and character invention I had from at least six years old and upward. (The folks coming up with that “WAGON TRAIN to the stars”, STAR TREK, should’ve used me as a consultant for locations, distances and travel times at various “warp factors”. I knew WAY more than they did – and incredibly, than they still do – when I was eleven years old!)

    It was trying to write poetry in a high school class, I think, which really planted the seed for creative writing as a real application. The Writers Institute course after graduation from college brought the tree to fruition.

    But it was above all the realization – just when I gained it I’m not sure, but after college – that only writing could be a big enough career to take in all my endless interests which brought me into the career fully. It was then that I discovered what had been true all along: I write because I’m compelled to write, and because I can win people’s heads and hearts doing it.

  2. Reblogged this on Tales of the Undying Singer and commented:
    I write because I’m compelled to write. Doesn’t every writer? 🙂

  3. I have no idea. Seriously, but yours sounds interesting.

  4. I’ve always been a voracious reader (although law school almost sucked that enjoyment out of me) but taking up writing as anything more serious than a passing hobby never truly crossed my mind – that is until my wife and I saw the much-hyped Twilight movie. I hadn’t read the novel nor did I know much about it since our oldest daughter wasn’t quite old enough to read that material, but I did know it was insanely popular.

    Something about that film triggered in me a desire to write stories that I’d always played around with mentally, just for fun, but never seriously considered putting down on paper. Immediately after the film ended, I dragged my wife to Barnes&Noble and bought a copy of the book. A few days later, I finished it and then proclaimed to my wife that I was going to write a novel.

    I recognize that we all have epiphany moments in our life, and I’m not sure if Stephenie Meyer is due all credit to mine, but … Twilight certainly begged me to ask the simple question: why not me? It set me on a mission to prove to myself that I could do it and one day take my girls to B&N to find their daddy’s book.

    Three years later my Christian YA supernatural novel is complete, and although I’ve received passing interest from agents and publishers, I don’t fool myself in thinking I’m going to knock Ted Dekker or Dean Koontz off their perches. Besides, that’s not why I still toil on a sequel and write short stories. I continue to write simply because it’s fun. Nothing more, nothing less.

    And if it took Stephenie Meyer to help me discover that enjoyment, well I guess I can live with that.

  5. I have been making up stories as long as I can remember. I have always wanted to be a writer, though for a long time I fell for the lie that “you can’t make a living at that.” While it may be true that making a living as a _novelist_ is extraordinarily difficult, making a living as a _writer_ is totally possible, as long as you’re willing to do other kinds of writing: advertising, journalism, technical…

    And then there’s always editing. 😉

  6. You guys are all such an encouragement–you know that? Thank you for sharing your stories!

  7. I don’t remember my “first” per se. I’ve always loved to read and always had stories of my own in my head. I do remember that when I was in 6th grade, I told my teacher that I was going to write a story where Indiana Jones goes to Narnia. My teacher said he didn’t think that would work as a story. I took up the challenge, and after reading it my teacher admitted that I had made it work. That was my first big triumph as a writer.

    Back then, I didn’t know it was called “fan fiction” and what I’d done was a crossover piece. People do it online all the time now. Ha!

    My first finished novel was a story based on the “Beauty and the Beast” fairy tale, which has always been a favorite. I don’t know that I’ll ever try to resurrect and publish it, but like yours, it was a great learning experience.

  8. I was 5 yrs old and couldn’t fall asleep for some reason. As I stared out my bedroom window at the orange light over our back door, the thought dropped in my head that I should tell myself a story until I fell asleep.
    I did so from then on, often picking up the storyline during the day on long drives.

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