For more about Allison and her books visit her website at For now, please relax and brace yourself for the occasionally coherent ramblings of Allison's mind.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Makings of a Writer

I’ve always been a writer but never thought of being one.

Some people are born knowing their career. The ten-year-old with the precocious smile, announcing to the entire waiting room her plans to study marine law in New Zealand. The middle-schooler insisting on extra summer reading lists while his friends look on in horror. The high school senior already on her third internship and second college course. I envy those people with their head-start in life, those infant go-getters who catapult themselves to success as young adults. 

I was born knowing what I loved and knowing I loved what I did, but not realizing it was something I could do. Like anyone, I had my passions, but it never occurred to me a passion could be a career. As my friends huddled around televisions in their parents’ finished basements, I fashioned worlds and people in notebooks. I wrote because there was nothing I would rather do, and in those stolen moments felt at peace in that place where imagination meets expression. But be an author? I wasn’t an author. Authors were magical beings who had fairy godmothers in the form of agents and editors and publishers. Authors gave speeches at graduations and sat in front of fireplaces on documentaries. I was just a girl with a pen and a love of creating her own universe. I wrote because I’d rather immerse myself in a story I could control than be directed by someone else’s hand. I wrote because there was a fire in me that had to find its way to incarnation.

Over the years I traded my pencil and college-ruled notebook paper for a computer, but the stories continued. My characters, my friends, my enemies, my secret crushes. We all fantasize about life, I recorded mine in prose. My stories were my diaries, buried deep in hidden folders never meant to be seen.

And then, something amazing happened: I finished one.

I stared at my labor of love for a long time. At that file that dwarfed the dozens of others in my “Revised Novel” folder. I didn’t know what to do with it at first. Do I create a new folder? “Finished Novels” maybe? But it seemed cruel to banish these incredible people to a forgotten bit of hard drive space for all eternity. After all, we’d bonded for years, they expected more of our relationship; I couldn’t bear to say goodbye. With a deep breath and racing pulse, I did something I’d never done before. Opening an e-mail, I attached a file. A large file. My hand trembled, but somehow I managed to press send.

The first report came back positive. Then another, and another. Suddenly, I began to realize that maybe my passion had actually intersected with talent. Maybe there were others who would enjoy glimpses into the dark and compassionate rumblings in my head. I didn’t think about a book deal; I didn’t even know what that was. I still don’t. But I knew that I loved sharing my world. After years of imaginary friends, I could talk about my characters with others who befriended them as well.

At the time of this post, I still haven’t made a penny from my writing. I’ve never seen any of my many books in print. I can’t stack them proudly on a coffee table or even quit my day job. I don’t have a giant leather armchair in front of a fire, and my name may never be subtitled below my profile as I discuss current events in an awkwardly rehearsed improvisation.

But…wow, I’m a writer.

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