The Catalyst. Each of Us Has One

Every writer had a start: something or some situation that made them sit down and begin their authorial careers. For many, it was frustration with procrastination that forced them to finally go to the computer and start typing—ready, or not. But for some of us, there was a catalyst.

I came up with the idea for my novel series while at work. I developed it to the point where I said to myself, “you’d be crazy not to do this.” But me, a writer? Me? I had never done anything so bold. Beyond my master’s thesis, which I had no choice but to write, who was I to think I could write such a lengthy, creative piece of work as a novel? So my idea sat idle. For four years, I played around with it, creating a very loose plot, and even going as far as to write scenes. But still no book, not even a chapter. Just a lot of playing around here and there. I even thought of going to a writing class, just to get the effort off the ground, but that’s all I did…

One day at work, my manager came over to my area. She said the company had just lost a major client, and that they blamed their departure on my team. (I found out later that the real reason didn’t involve us at all, but I digress.) I knew this couldn’t be right, we were too hardworking and we always did everything to the letter. I was so miffed that I decided to start writing my book. Enough of offices and cubicles–one way or another, I was going to get out of there, do what I really wanted to do and make money with it. It would be hard, but so what, the beast in me was awakened.

I went home that evening, looked up writing classes and signed up for one. I spent my entire summer learning the basics of the craft, and when the class was over, I started my novel. Like most writers, I started with bits and pieces that came to mind first. Then I tightened my original plot, hashed out my chapters, and started writing, beginning-to-end. (The very first scene I wrote became chapter 12, but I digress again.)

Through the entire first draft, I assumed that I would never finish. I couldn’t possibly be serious enough to see this through. I had always wanted to write a novel, but dreaming of something and doing it are two vastly different things.

But I didn’t stop. I finished the first draft. I redrafted the entire thing, over and over, adding pieces, subtracting pieces that no longer fit, and then polishing the whole thing. And I never stopped. When my mother became terminally ill, I wrote late at night after visiting/taking care of her. When my company fell under hard times, and I had to find a new job, I still kept writing.

Well, I’m done now, and I’m in that same bucket as other writers looking to get published. It’s been a long road, but one I’m proud that I took. And, I look back now to that unlikely moment that put a spark under me: who would have known that one unfortunate situation would bring such a turning point to my life?

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