Friday, June 19, 2015

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Many of us authors can truthfully answer, "We always dreamed of being a novelist." But is that strictly true? 

When I was seven, I wanted to be Doris Day and sing my way to the silver screen. I knew I didn't have much of a chance though because I didn't have blonde hair or freckles, but I could belt out a pretty good rendition of Que Sera Sera. If I had kept trying and improving, I might have been successful, but I went on to other artistic means of expression.

Drawing on every scrap of paper or margins of newspapers and notebooks drove me to dream about being a famous artist. My idols at an early age were book illustrators. Those guys could draw anything and everything. When I got married my grandmother gifted me with several notebooks of drawings she had saved from those early days. I've continued to draw and paint portraits of interesting people for many years, but famous - I think not.

As a teen, in between art class and choir, I tried my hand at writing poetry and song lyrics. I believe I filled one notebook and realized I wasn't destined to be a poet or song writer (too verbose).

My best friend Maxine told me I've always been a writer, expressing the most interesting situations via notes in class. Another friend, Karen, said my chatty letters made her feel like I was narrating instead of just telling the latest news. In college, I began to dream of writing a novel (as if I didn't already have plenty of papers to write). One of my professors encouraged me to pursue my fiction writing dream and so it began. Notebooks filled with scenes and characters, which led me to my first novel, Feisty Family Values. It took ten years from conception to print, but it's a beautiful book. (Five Star does great covers!)

Now, instead of creating portraits with paint, I create them with words. It's still a fairly long process, often starting with a picture in my mind of a character, a place, a scene, and a feeling. All authors strive to invoke feeling in our readers and to create a world they want to visit.

Did I dream of being a novelist? Yes, and I kept at it until I learned the craft, understood the publishing industry (which we all know is constantly changing), and ultimately told a story that others wanted to read.

Personally, I think I've learned that we need our dreams. They may change over time, but they are important and worth following. The key: Enjoying the journey.

So, tell me the truth, what did you want to be when you grew up? Are you on your way? If not, what are you waiting for?


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Bonnie,

Like you, I wanted first to be a singer. I had a good voice and took voice lessons. But when it came down to it, I discovered I had stage fright. So then I wanted to be an artist. I was pretty good at that as well. But you have to be outstanding to succeed in that field. Of course, like you, I was always writing. I loved reading and making up my own stories. Even when I became an English teacher and then a librarian, I was always writing. I discovered it was the right fit for me.

Bonnie Tharp said...

Hi Jacqui. Sounds like we started on a similar path, which is very cool! However, I went into the business world instead of academia. It's interesting how we authors end up here, writing our hearts out, having fun but not making a living much. Ah well. Holding the book in your hands, talking to readers, finding new stories to tell - makes it all worthwhile, don't you think?

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Bonnie,

Holding the book in my hand does mean a lot to me too. But you're right, very few writers can actually earn a living from writing.

Bonnie Tharp said...

I danced around like a kid at Christmas when my author copies came in the mail for my first book. I did it again for my second book. It's exciting every time. Dreams do come true.