Writing is like marriage, and books are like babies
by Heather Kennison
So you want to know how I became an author? Let me tell you, at times it feels like a major undertaking.
I’ve always been a writer in some fashion, but I didn’t really fall in love with writing until I was an adolescent. Sitting there in study hall at Spring Creek Middle School, I began my first novel on the pages of a composition book. Fascinated, I found myself in a daze when writing. Characters and adventures played around inside my brain while I acted as translator, penciling them into words and chapters.
|The first book I ever tried to write.|
In the years that followed, I often rode my bike around our property, thinking up stories for hours on end. The plots often stemmed from my love of X-Men or Star Trek, and usually involved some kind of transformation taking place in the hero or heroine. It was one of these stories, invented during high school, that later became what is now Dragon’s Destiny. Though the characters, setting and time period changed, the basic plot was the starting point for my novel about four years later.
I often tried to write others of these stories down, but without much success. It was sort of like dating: I’d try them out for a while, but eventually lost interest. My own mother often questioned if I ever would complete a novel, since I had begun and abandoned at least five or six of them. Each book had a unique plot and characters: a unicorn was kidnapped by a scientist, a Guide Dog dreamed of returning home, and a genie was free only as long as he maintained possession of his lamp. Someday, I may yet find time to revisit these stories and rekindle the spark.
It must have been sometime in high school when people started seriously asking me what I wanted to do with my life. I knew that I wanted to be an author. Despite all my failures with novels, I was still in love with writing, and that wouldn’t change.
But sometimes, people don’t understand your choices. They tell you that your head is in the clouds. Why would you commit your life to something so unpredictable? Such was the case when I told them what I wanted to be. “That’s nice,” they’d say, “but what about your real job? You can always write on the side.”
Discouraged, I tried to think of other things I was good at or passionate about. I told them I would open my own chicken hatchery, having been fond of poultry from my years in 4-H. Even that, to them, didn’t seem like an attainable goal, and I started refusing to answer altogether. In the back of my mind, I was still engaged to the idea of being an author.
By my junior year, I finally knew how to respond: I wanted to be a journalist. I had joined the staff of the school newspaper, called The Forum. Journalism, I realized, would allow me to use my talents in my job, and not just on the side. Plus, I liked the idea of having a more fast-paced profession. If I majored in English in college, I’d been told I would be a secretary or a teacher, neither of which appealed to me. Journalism was something I could do.
It was my journalism teacher, Mrs. Reed, who got me published for the first time. Knowing of my writing abilities, she asked me to do a story on her niece, Kathy Wines. The article was printed in Youth Renewing the Countryside (2009). The book’s focus was on youth around the United States doing something to rejuvenate the country lifestyle. Each article was written by a young person in the same state, and there were 50 articles total.
Looking back, I know my article was less than perfect. I had gotten my first taste of what it felt to have something picked apart by a real editor. There were things I had to change, but eventually, it got through. I received $175 for my efforts – my first paid writing assignment.
All of this led to my decision to major in Journalism and Mass Communications at Whitworth University. By the time I had graduated in 2012, I had also added another major: Spanish. I’ve always had a way with language.
Writing became a bit dull in some of my classes, but my talents got me recruited to write a play in my Spanish for Christian Ministry class. I even took a few writing courses just for the fun of it, because creative writing, fiction or nonfiction, is where I have always found my true passion.
Continued in Part Two.
Continued in Part Two.