Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Writing Patterns

When I look back on my writing career, I noticed a pattern.  I don't know if this pattern is true with others, but it made me smile how my writing follows my life.

Before I had children, I wrote mainly nonfiction for newspapers and magazines.  I enjoyed interviewing people and doing research.  I had a Canon camera and turned my nose up at automatic settings.  Even though I was also working full-time as a technical editor for Boeing, I still found time to write.

Then I tried my hand at romance when my children were very young.  Perhaps I wanted more romance in my life because I was a stay-at-home mom with two toddlers.  It seemed to me that there was an awful lot of messes to clean up...from poop to vomit, from blood to shampoo poured out onto the carpet, from spilled milk to toys everywhere.  My husband and I were worn out from hard work and little sleep.  Romance?  Ha!  I tried writing, but I have to admit that it was very frustrating.  I'd been used to having lots of time to write, but now I wrote as soon as my two boys fell asleep for their naps.  I'd have about an hour or two at my typewriter.  I'd given up on trying to write nonfiction, because I didn't have a way to go out and interview people or spend much time at the library.  Remember, now, this was in the early 80s and before computers and internet.

As my boys got a little older, I started really looking at the books I was reading to them.  Picture books?  Yeah, those seemed pretty easy to write.  So I tried my hand at them.  By this time (late 80s), I had a computer and more time.  The internet was just starting and I joined some writing groups online.  I wrote a lot of "picture books" that didn't sell.  Then I got a wild idea and submitted some of my "picture books" to kids magazines.  And, wow!  They sold!  It turned out that my picture books were really short stories.  I sold so many that I got a nickname:  the magazine queen.

Then an editor told me that I had a good middle-grade voice and I should try writing a novel.  So I did.  My boys were in upper elementary and middle-school when I wrote my first one...which didn't sell.  Change that.  It hasn't sold yet.  So I wrote short stories and nonficiton articles for kids magazines during most of the 90s.  I sold my first middle-grade novel when my boys were in high school.  I've sold 40 children's books since then, some fiction, some nonfiction, some picture books, some middle-grade novels, and one nonficiton YA biography.

My boys grew up, went to college, and got married.  I continued writing kids stories, but a couple of years ago, I decided to try my hand at writing for adults again.  I wrote a devotion for Gary Chapman's Love is a Verb collection and a true story for James Stewart Bell's collection.  After 30 years of marriage, I'm now divorced and maybe looking for romance again, because that's what I'm reading again, and I'm trying my hand at writing it.  My queries have led to editors asking for proposals. Oh happy day!

My boys have given me grandchildren:  3 girls.  One is 3 1/2, one is almost 6 months, and one will be born in February.  I'm reading picture books again.  I've got ideas for stories.

Hmmm.  Anyone else see a pattern here?

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