You know how adults always like to ask school-age children what they want to be when they grow up? Well for me, the answer was always to be a writer. Once I learned that people could write books for a living, I decided that's what I wanted to do. It helped that I have always been adept at reading and writing. That is to say, it has always come naturally to me. [That isn't to say that my writing is perfect - far from it!] I was even teased for using "big words" in elementary school. I was a certified nerd early on, I guess!
In middle school, a VFW essay I wrote in 20 minutes won me $200. If I had planned it better I might have gone farther in the contest, but as it was I was proud that something I slapped together actually had some sort of merit, at least compared to what my peers could slap together. It was, I suppose, my first confirmation that writing is something I can do.
I dabbled in poetry in high school, but didn't write fiction or non-fiction, although LiveJournal was popular at the time. (I should have graduated in 2005.) I personally don't think I had enough life experience to write in my late teens and early twenties, even though I tried fiction a few times. I just didn't have anything to say, at least not in my opinion. I think, in some ways, writing is a very large extension of your soul. And when you haven't at least glimpsed at your own personal demons, you can't write about how big their scales are or how hot their breath is.
I really only began writing more seriously in the past two years or so, even though I have been researching writing for a long time. I began my writing blog in 2012, first on Blogger and then on my own Wordpress hosting at http://www.lynnswayze.com. I have seen a multitude of changes within the writing world; it keeps changing. POD publishers are out; self-publishing and indie publishers are in. In some ways, it is harder for self-published authors than it was a few years ago since the flood of 99 cent ebooks, but in other ways it's better than ever. Mobile technology has made it incredibly easy for authors to find readers. And while authors aren't making up front royalties, they are making more per month with their writing than they would have if the manuscript had languished in a drawer. I find it fascinating. And then there are the changes in book distribution and large bookstores, as well as the recent large mergers of dying publishing houses.
It wasn't until 2013 that I realized that all the non-fiction web writing I was doing could be considered writing, too. While I don't think I could die happy without a completed (ha) book or two (or fifty) under my belt, I do feel that I am at least doing what I love. I began my book review blog (http://www.genrebookreviews.com) in April 2013 as a way to promote underserved indie authors. It will take some time to get fully up and running as I also run a Montessori-based daycare (http://www.legacychildcare.org), write freelance articles on the side, write a mom blog (http://www.themodernrosie.com), have a vintage photography site that I'm starting (http://www.vintagephotolove.com) and contribute to political sites. But that's not the norm! For MOST authors and book reviewers, the hardest part of being a published author anymore is the promotion. It is often free via social media like Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, YouTube, and blog tours, but it is also time consuming. So writing anymore is really a trade off; with control over publishing comes the burden of publishing.
My long term writing goals are the same as they have always been: finally finish one of the bazillion novels in my head. Keep writing at my writing blog. Grow my book review blog. Write more often on the political matters that interest me. That sort of thing. There are never enough hours in the day to write all I need to write and read all I need to read, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to try! I also have four children that I need to encourage literacy in.
I am incredibly honored to meet with Mark Small and Barbara Shoup at the Indiana Writer's Center on April 13th.