By that, I mean I began writing and storytelling at that time and haven’t stopped.
There is an odd comfort knowing what one wants from an early age. There is no trial and error. No aspect of finding oneself and the future. I knew I wanted to write early on. Even though I tried several different disciplines that were more lucrative, writing has always been there, and it has eventually taken me to this screen that you read.
Writing takes more than inspiration. It takes a desire to improve one’s ability. It takes a focus to sit at the computer and type for hours on end with no human interaction whatsoever. It takes giving it your all, putting it down, coming back to it, ripping it apart much to one’s chagrin, rewriting it, giving it to someone to read, and then getting feedback that usually breaks your heart anyway.
It’s self-made torture. It really is.
In 2004, I decided that torture needed to be put on steroids. I attended the Maui Writers Retreat & Conference, a great writing retreat designed to not only help people improve their writing but also introduce writers to some of the best editors in the business. There I met a nice group of fellow writers, all working hard, all either improving their craft of writing, trying to impress one of the visiting editors, or both.
It was also at that retreat I met Jennifer Bosworth.
Jennifer impressed right from the start. She was the best writer in our group. She had a literary flavor that could not be ignored, an ability with language that exceeded our own. Couple that with a desire to write genre fiction—she was working on a Dark Tower-esque vampire tale, I believe—and she had a great foundation to build upon. We clicked right from the beginning. We spent the next ten or eleven days at breakfast, at lunch, at dinner, at cocktails. We talked about writing. We critiqued. We talked about the industry. We made plans. It was great fun to be around someone who had as much interest in these things as I did and yet knew the reality of what we were up against.
When I came back to the United States mainland, I began my first novel. I had the foundation I craved but, more importantly, I had the confidence to attempt it. Jennifer and I stayed in touch but that slowly disappeared, both of us lost to our writing projects.
Years pass, as they are wont to do. I finish that first book. Submit it to NYC. Get roundly rejected. Sulk. Move on to write another novel, The Dark Thorn. Finish it. And in April 2012, I will be publishing it.
Ironically, I received an email the other day from Jennifer. We haven’t spoken in years. She wrote a Young Adult novel titled Struck that is being published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux at Macmillan on May 8, 2012!
Here is a bit more about Struck:
Mia Price is a lightning addict.
She’s been struck so many times she’s lost count. She can’t sleep, she’s covered in veiny red “lightning scars,” and repeated strikes have even stopped her heart on occasion. Still, Mia can’t resist a storm.
That’s why Los Angeles, where it never rains, is the perfect place for her to find peace . . . until a massive earthquake devastates the city.
Now Mia finds herself struggling to hold her family together in a strange and terrifying new version of Los Angeles. The beaches have become massive tent cities populated by millions of homeless. Downtown is a wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the attendees drawn to the destruction by a magnetic force they cannot deny.
The blind prophet of a doomsday cult called the Church of Light, who predicted the earthquake with frightening accuracy, says a storm is coming to usher in the end of days, and only his Followers will be saved. Mia’s traumatized mom has become obsessed with the Church of Light, while her younger brother Parker is desperate to join a second doomsday cult called the Seekers. But Mia is the one both cults need.
The Seekers are recruiting people with an energy-based power they call the “Spark,” and Mia has it stronger than most. They claim the false prophet of the Church of Light will bring about the end of the world, and they are the only ones who can stand against him.
But without Mia on their side, they will fail.
Mia’s lightning addiction is both the key to saving the world . . . and destroying it.
I just received my ARC of Struck. I’m excited to read it! I do find it interesting though that Jennifer and I helped bolster one another at a time when we were both unsure. We both attended a writing retreat, received a great education, took what we learned and made it our own. Now we sit here, years later and many hours of work behind us, with completed manuscripts, about to unleash them upon the world.
I know for a fact without that writing retreat, I would not be here writing. Not in the way I am now. I think Jennifer would say the same. If you want to write for a living and need some guidance, a writing retreat is the best place to start your journey.
They do matter.