I don't know exactly when it happened. I think it started last year, when I became bound and determined to do whatever it took to get Scales published by a third-party publisher. Something snapped in my head that told me I had to do something different about my writing career.
That Nanowrimo and scribbling short stories in my spare time wasn’t enough.
So I started to take my work seriously. I started seeking critiques, no matter how much they hurt. I started reading about writing, and actually applying the lessons, instead of nursing the ache in my chest when I realized I wrote something “wrong”.
Perhaps it happened this past December, when I purchased and read some of the most influential writing books of all-time. I realized, with a certain amount of heartache, and more than a little excitement, that everything I had written was wrong. Wrong in very specific, fixable ways. I realized I could salvage my old work, without losing the essence of the story, and spin it better this time. Make it more durable. Make it speak louder to people’s hearts.
Maybe it began when I submitted a story, and I didn’t look for the response right away in my email. I patted myself on the back for submitting it and let it go, regardless of the response.
It may have started last year, but it came into fruition this year.
This year; this first week of January, I’ve had positive responses (even in a rejection) from every person to whom I’ve sent a story or poem. Positive.
For the first time in my life, people are not telling me that they can’t understand what’s going on, that the writing is pretty, but confusing.
For the first time in my life, when I ask someone to publish my work, their answer is simply “Yes.”
What a powerful word it is to hear. And the “yes” robs the sting from the “no”. I am now more excited than ever to learn about writing. And I want to write everything. I want to write even when I don’t want to write; I just write about something else.
For the first time, I can actually see a future in this path I’ve been unable to unchoose.
Since I was little, writing caused me pain. I got in trouble, over and over, for things I’d written. My school said there was too much sex and violence. Fiction got interpreted as fact too often, but never when I actually meant it to be interpreted that way. Letters and poems and journals all were read, shared without my permission.
It hurts to be violated that way.
But I couldn’t stop. I had to write. Even after publishing shitty books, and realizing they were shitty, I could not stop. I had to keep moving on.
And now, for the first time, it’s bringing me pleasure.
Something happened. After all this time writing, I learned how to write.