Ask anyone who knows me well, and you’ll hear consensus quickly that I have an active imagination. Always have. And God willing, I always will. My wonderfully creative parents would say I’ve been telling stories all my life – I think they would mean it in a “good” way, knowing that children with active imaginations are to be encouraged, nurtured, and reminded occasionally that the only time one gets away with lying is when one writes fiction.
That’s how I became a writer. Not so much the lying part, but the encouraging and nurturing parts I received in equal measure from my family and from teachers at what seemed at the time to be critical moments in life. For instance, when I was in second grade, my calm, favorite-grandmotherly teacher declared I had a writer’s bump on the middle finger of my right hand. Surely, she said, that was a sign of a great writer in the making. Looking back, she was probably just trying to correct the way I held my pencil – a frustration for an eight-year-old who felt certain she was “supposed” to be left handed like her best friend was, only to be stymied by the obvious. A southpaw was not in my genetic code. I latched onto Mrs. Mann’s encouragement, and announced with all the affirmation a kid can muster, why, of course I was planning on writing novels for a living when I grew older.
The writing for a living part of that statement of faith has indeed come true. The writing a novel part has taken far longer than I ever imagined (six years to complete the first one). The getting published part, longer still. The good news is that I still want to continue on this journey of what seems like ten million unknown baby steps. I’ve written a children’s story (this time, in six weeks on a part-time basis), and have started another novel – another story that I just have to tell. There are two other completed manuscripts begging for a serious editing, but I haven’t the heart to tear myself away from the new story to do it at the moment.
Like other writers, I sometimes get the question about the source of my stories. Like other writers, I’d have to say they come from a variety of places: clips of conversations or odd newspaper stories, a song, even a dear friend connecting on Facebook to bring a fuzzy, distant memory into focus. Tonight, for instance, I was listening to my own eight-year-old read an article about this fall’s meteorite schedule. All of a sudden, a story popped into my head. It always starts the same: what would happen if, during a crisp night’s viewing of a meteorite shower a great, big ….. Oh, wait. That’s a story for another day.
Laura S. Wharton is the author of the soon to be released historical maritime novel, The Pirate’s Bastard.