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?