I’ve been writing off and on for most of my life, although most written works were short. In college, I had to take an English literature class, which further ignited my sense of wonder in writing. I started to toy around with the idea, but nothing ever amounted to it. Several more years passed when I got word from the community college that I started out in. It was summer then and they were having a Writers Conference. The event listed a famous author that was known worldwide.
Although it was not my genre of reading or writing, I decided to attend the three-day conference. When I looked over the Itinerary, there were several genres represented by different authors who were speaking at the event. In some sessions we all sat together in the auditorium, listening to the main guest speaker. Afterward, we broke up into smaller groups, focusing on select topics. Some of the topics I had already learned about in school. However, the speakers focused specifically on how to make our work better. They were definitely crunch sessions where we crammed as much information into our brains as possible. In between the sessions, while on break, I started writing some small pieces of fiction.
By this time in my life I was in university, but also working full time. I left the event feeling overly excited, but soon found my way back to what I considered my present reality. During the next year, I found myself writing small works of fiction. The conference returned the following year and I went again and learned about new topics. The excitement was reignited once more, but history repeated itself. It wasn’t long before I found myself back into a busy lifestyle. Life has a way of piling things on us to make sure we never experience liftoff.
Finally, a few years ago, I decided to write my first book. It was the first time I ever seriously considered it. I had started many different stories, I just wanted to finish one of them. I finally focused on one particular story and wrote it out it as a short story. I asked my friend to look it over and give an opinion. What came next, I did not expect, constructive criticism. After a thorough review, in the best way possible, thoughts were shared. What was said and what I heard, were orders of magnitude apart from one another. They might as well tell me that the whole thing was trash. We even got into a bit of an argument. It turns out I did not like criticism. I was terribly angry and crumpled up the pages. These words are still stuck in my head to this day, “I will never write another story.”
After I came down from this “personal attack,” I began to listen to the wisdom being shared. Eventually this stubborn hater of criticism went back to work on the story. We worked through the plot, worldbuilding, and a great deal of character development. After the holes were filled in, the story was transformed something altogether better. They knew me long enough to know that the story was not my best effort and they told me so. Deep down inside, I knew they were right. I think this is partly why I went on to fix the story. The truth was I just wanted to finish a story so bad that I was willing to turn in anything. That became the starting point at which my excellence in writing began. I better understood that writing conveys a message and words are used to communicate. Living a life of excellence means you have to continually improve upon your best. Before long, I realized a reader deserves the absolute best an author has to give. Anything less is unacceptable.