Last night Eldest began the process of applying to colleges. Yeah, I know. I can’t believe he’s that old. I’m also surprised that he’s as prepared as he is. We’ve never really shaped his class load, yet his transcript looks like it’s been molded to fit perfectly with college expectations.
And even though he’s claimed he wanted to be an inventor (of toys and games, mind you) since the wee age of seven, I never really thought what that would mean for him and his high school curriculum. Apparently, he did. He’s taken all the right classes–heavy on math and science with some engineering type courses thrown in for good measure–with very little direction from us.
Due to his dyslexia, he struggles to read and write in his native tongue, but took two freakin’ years of a foreign language. He’s never taken a study hall and came into his senior year two credits short of graduation requirements. This means he’ll graduate with twelve more credits than necessary. And here we thought he was slacking off.
My guess is that somewhere along the line, you, as a writer, suspect you’ve slacked off as well. You didn’t necessarily graduate with an English degree, much less receive an MFA in creative writing. I know I didn’t. In fact, I’ve had no formal training in the way of writing what-so-ever. Not past English one-oh-whatever in college.
Sure I’ve bought a few books on style and plot and character development, but if I’m absolutely honest, I’ve never read them past the first few pages. I’ve attended a handful of conferences, paid for a few professional critiques at said conferences, read blogs on the industry, read writer’s markets, read the Institute of Children’s Lit newsletter for a dozen years, joined writing communities and critique groups, swapped ideas with fellow scribes, written a dozen book manuscripts, published in the adult market, chatted with industry insiders, practiced, honed, edited and penned some more.
In short, I’m not as woefully under-prepared as I first appear. And I bet you’re not either.
You see, writing preparation is a cumulative process. It’s the culmination of small things–taking French instead of study hall–that prepares us for our futures. It’s opening our world to the possibility and not getting hung up on “the right way.”
Everyone’s path is different, and that’s okay. Some of us dig into the intensity of formal training, while others of us slog through trial and error and sheer persistence. No particular way is the right way. And no particular way is the predictor of success in the industry.
You’re here, reading a writing blog. This means you’re serious enough to gather more info. You’ve decided to be an inventor of words, and that is always the first step in success.
So what’s your story? When did you become aware of your passion for writing and how have you nurtured this dream? Have you received formal training or did you/are you cobbling together your own writing education through life experiences? Do you wish you had done something differently?
Curious minds want to know.