I am participating in the Writing Contest: How Writing Has Positively Influenced My Life. Hosted by Positive Writer. When I got notice of this contest in my inbox, it made me think back to how this all started.
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Yeah, that last part was a bald-faced lie. I have sold some books, but not enough to say I’m a professional novelist. Somewhere in the hundreds for two books. Not enough to say at this point that I’m participating in more than a relatively expensive hobby. And yet, I would not go back and change my mind about finishing that first book. Writing has had an amazingly positive effect on me. More than one, actually.
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I settled for watching baseball and playing slow pitch softball. I’m still not really very good, but they don’t pay me, so it’s okay. And I thought I might finish a book someday, though I wasn’t sure I really could. I’d written some halfway decent short stories, but a novel is just so many words. And, hopefully, not the same eight or ten words over and over again. Lots of different words. But I was an English major and they prefer you to know several words, so there was still that tiny glimmer of hope that someday…
And the someday came. I still wanted to be a “traditional” author, so I spent almost two years getting rejection notices weekly. The old cliché of using them to paper my bedroom walls didn’t really work, since they were nearly all automatically generated emails. But it didn’t matter. I wrote a book. I thought it was a pretty cool thing and my friends agreed. And ever since I took the plunge and self-published, even strangers have said so. A woman in Chicago (I live in West Virginia) tweeted me to say she’d won my first book in a contest, loved it, and was buying the second the day it came out. Chicago. Chicago, Illinois. A metropolis with more people in it than my whole state. I smiled for days that someone in a big city almost 500 miles away liked my books enough to take the time to tell me.
Sadly, she hasn’t gotten hundreds of her friends to buy their own copies, but that’s okay too. I hope I can get to a point where writing will be something I can do for a living, but I love my day job, at which, for the bonus, I’ve gotten a lot better since I started writing regularly, by the way. I read all the time about how reading makes you a better writer, but I’ve found the reverse to be true as well. I’m a much more effective reader now that I write. The tools I use to create character, plot, and theme are much more evident in the works I read now. So even if I never sold another copy, I will have benefitted greatly from writing.
There have been other positive effects, like all the nice people I’ve met and the new places I’ve been, but those stories can wait for another day. I could go on forever, but nobody wants that. Too many words.