When I Was Fifteen My English Teacher Accused Me of Cheating…
I still remember standing there after class, Mr. Cushman clutching a copy of my paper on Anna Karenina while he asked me things like this:
“So, someone helped you with this paper, right?” No.
“Not your parents or a grandparent?” No.
“Maybe an older brother or sister?” I don’t have any.
Until finally he said this: “There’s no way you wrote this by yourself. It’s too good.”
Well, guess what, Mr. Cushman: I just got a publishing contract.
I swore I wasn’t going to be like so many other writers who put in their bios, “I always wanted to be a writer…” Mostly because I didn’t—at least not consciously. But, I do have a history with writing, like most writers, even if mine wasn’t as directed as some.
When I was three, I wrote a letter to my Congressman. Yes, I wrote it. And he wrote back. I did it because my father knew the guy’s nephew and I thought that was cool, so I wrote him to say so. I imagine my parents still have the Congressman’s response.
When I was thirteen, I won the eighth grade story-writing contest. It was something about a unicorn, I didn’t think it was all that great of a story. I imagine my parents still have a copy somewhere.
When I was fifteen, I wrote the paper on Anna Karenina. It was too good apparently. But, Anna Karenina was my favorite novel and I worked hard on that paper. My teacher was a jackass, and sexist to boot. I’m sure I didn’t get an A in his class.
When I was twenty, I finally gave in and declared an English major. Even as I told myself it wouldn’t be of “any use,” I knew all I wanted to do was read and write fiction.
At twenty-one, I interned in a United States Senator’s office and while the rest of the interns partied, I worked. I worked hard enough, and wrote well enough, that I got to write an official statement for the Senator that was published in the Congressional Record. I was proud of that one – finally.
At thirty-five, I was asked by my boss to write an article for a regional magazine. My boss said, “We’ll co-author it. You do up a draft, I’ll revise it and we’ll put both our names on it.” Cool, right? Wrong. I wrote it, he liked it so much he changed three words, and submitted it under his name only. The magazine liked it so much they made it their cover article.
For twenty years I tried on jobs—lots of them. But, they all had one thing in common: writing. And over and over again people said to me, “You write really well…you’re such a good writer.” So, when I woke up at forty-four and suddenly said, “I want to be a writer,” it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise.
Now I’m going to have my first book published. I’m way excited. And I’ve gone a little bit cray-cray as well, but that’s a whole other blog post. In the meantime, I’ll keep working on edits and marketing and my new novel, which is going to be very different than this first one, but really fantastic.
I hope you’ll join me for my book launch with Crimson Romance (www.crimsonromance.com) on April 22nd. It’ll be lots of fun, and best of all, it’ll show Mr. Cushman that it was all me.