The Makings of a Writer

I’ve always been a writer but never thought of being one.


Some people are born knowing their career. The ten-year-old with the precocious smile, announcing to the entire waiting room her plans to study marine law in New Zealand. The middle-schooler insisting on extra summer reading lists while his friends look on in horror. The high school senior already on her third internship and second college course. I envy those people with their head-start in life, those infant go-getters who catapult themselves to success as young adults. 


I was born knowing what I loved and knowing I loved what I did, but not realizing it was something I could do. Like anyone, I had my passions, but it never occurred to me a passion could be a career. As my friends huddled around televisions in their parents’ finished basements, I fashioned worlds and people in notebooks. I wrote because there was nothing I would rather do, and in those stolen moments felt at peace in that place where imagination meets expression. But be an author? I wasn’t an author. Authors were magical beings who had fairy godmothers in the form of agents and editors and publishers. Authors gave speeches at graduations and sat in front of fireplaces on documentaries. I was just a girl with a pen and a love of creating her own universe. I wrote because I’d rather immerse myself in a story I could control than be directed by someone else’s hand. I wrote because there was a fire in me that had to find its way to incarnation.


Over the years I traded my pencil and college-ruled notebook paper for a computer, but the stories continued. My characters, my friends, my enemies, my secret crushes. We all fantasize about life, I recorded mine in prose. My stories were my diaries, buried deep in hidden folders never meant to be seen.


And then, something amazing happened: I finished one.


I stared at my labor of love for a long time. At that file that dwarfed the dozens of others in my “Revised Novel” folder. I didn’t know what to do with it at first. Do I create a new folder? “Finished Novels” maybe? But it seemed cruel to banish these incredible people to a forgotten bit of hard drive space for all eternity. After all, we’d bonded for years, they expected more of our relationship; I couldn’t bear to say goodbye. With a deep breath and racing pulse, I did something I’d never done before. Opening an e-mail, I attached a file. A large file. My hand trembled, but somehow I managed to press send.


The first report came back positive. Then another, and another. Suddenly, I began to realize that maybe my passion had actually intersected with talent. Maybe there were others who would enjoy glimpses into the dark and compassionate rumblings in my head. I didn’t think about a book deal; I didn’t even know what that was. I still don’t. But I knew that I loved sharing my world. After years of imaginary friends, I could talk about my characters with others who befriended them as well.


At the time of this post, I still haven’t made a penny from my writing. I’ve never seen any of my many books in print. I can’t stack them proudly on a coffee table or even quit my day job. I don’t have a giant leather armchair in front of a fire, and my name may never be subtitled below my profile as I discuss current events in an awkwardly rehearsed improvisation.


But…wow, I’m a writer.

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One Response to The Makings of a Writer

  1. Pat Burdette says:

    Hi, Allison,
    I have loved reading your blog, feeling a bit unnerved as I think of past days of knowing you at Trinity Wes. and YMWB and all the rest. I feel proud and humbled all at once, proud, not because I share any credit — or blame! ;) — for who you’ve become, but just because I’ve always expected special things from you. I feel a bit humbled in the way one does, I guess, when a student leaves you far in the dust!

    I look forward to reading your book. I have fond memories of you, and wish you all the best with your writing and in all things.


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