Writing from the Womb (Blast from the Past)


This is a repost from August 2009:

I read a post recently on agent Rachelle Gardner’s blog about not saying in a query how long you’ve been writing unless it’s relevant. Apparently, some people like to include that they’ve been writing since birth, thinking that will impress an agent, or that it serves as valid publishing experience. I am not such a prodigy. I don’t remember birth. In fact, like most people, I don’t remember much of the first 4 years of my life.

However, I remember writing a mystery story in 7th grade. It took place on a cruise ship and was influenced by Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, and Agatha Christie. A friend read my first 12 pages, hand-written of course, and told me it was “vivid.” I lost steam after that.

I wrote a song on the piano in 9th grade. Oh, let me clarify – I wrote lyrics and a melody. My brother can still sing it more than twenty years later:

I’ve worked hard the past few years,
Now it’s gonna pay off.
Hard work, persistence and talent
Are all I need,
To go to the top… (la la la la la)

Here I go, I’m on my way,
Not gonna let anything stand in my way.
I’m goin’ all the way
To the top.
Gonna be number one
When I go To the top.

Not surprisingly, my career as a songwriter was short-lived.

In high school I took a creative writing class, wrote poetry, and even entered a contest (got an Honorable Mention!). I also lazed around a lot on the hammock strung between two huge trees, and sang to myself in English and French, while contemplating the big issues in life. Crushes, avoiding helping my dad in the garden, friends, where do people go when they die, my annoying my little brother…

In college I took a course on reading and writing short stories. I wrote three short stories and had them critiqued by the class. We then revised our stories and had a private conference with the professor. This definitely prepared me for my life as a writer today. Critique groups, conferences, consultations with editors and agents.

I started writing a novel in graduate school (I have a Master’s in International Relations), influenced by my year as a student in Paris. Unfortunately, my computer kept crashing in the middle of writing papers, so my father replaced the motherboard. Bye-bye novel. That experience taught me to always back up my work.

Now here I am, all this time later, four manuscripts under my belt, the fifth underway. Querying agents, attending conferences, critiquing and being critiqued. Most of this information won’t end up in a query letter, but it has made me who I am today.

Maybe I should revisit that novel set in Paris…

Update July 2012: Six manuscripts under my belt and a seventh underway. I’ve definitely learned persistence.

What has made you who you are today?



Filed under The rest of my life, writing

10 responses to “Writing from the Womb (Blast from the Past)

  1. You won’t believe this, but I also wrote a story in 6th grade that was set aboard a ship (not a cruise ship, but a small yacht), and it was a ghost story where the “ghost” turned out to be a girl, stowing away. It was called The Ghost of the Mary Ellen. I won a contest with it!

  2. Thanks for sharing your story, Vicki. I loved reading about all your past writing endeavors.

    Crawling up from the trailer hidden behind the school, where they placed all the mentally retarded children. Yep, if you had any special issues, that’s what they called you. Struggling with learning to read, and speak. All the way to graduating college with almost a 4.0. It taught me how to never give up. Now, I’m raising a son who is on the spectrum, and I’m facing new challenges every day. He inspires and motivates me to keep going.

  3. Awesome song! You could totally go to number one with that baby! I remember writing two poems in grade three: one about the hole in the ozone layer and one about nuclear testing. Yep, I was a serious kid.

    I also wrote maybe a quarter of a novel about a girl who could communicate with her horse using ESP. They ‘thaid’ things to each other. BAHAHAHA.

  4. I think we’ve all had an experience that has made us back up our work! Also, I can’t believe how prolific you are. Amazing!

  5. Glad you reposted. I loved hearing your journey. I wished I’d saved some of my stuff. You reminded me I used to write lyrics too!

    Just keep writing. You’ll get there. And another trip to Paris would be nice. “Research”.

  6. I loved rereading this post. I think that song you wrote still applies. “Goin’ all the way to the top.”

    I used to write stories in fifth grade using our spelling words. I’d write two or three different ones and choose my favorite to share on Fridays. Those poor kids in my class. Thankfully, those stories have disappeared into the mists of time.

  7. Love this post!!! And I’ll be singing that song all day now. Thanks for that. And I too have not been writing since I was born!!! I was always a storyteller though. That takes a different type of skill and it’s very under appreciated.

  8. I love reading things like this about other writers! I, too, dabbled in song-writing (in college). Your song is better than any of mine! 🙂 And I, too, wrote mysteries based on Nancy Drew. I also wrote shameless copies of Baby-sitters Club plots.

    Working on manuscripts 4 and 5. I’ve come a long way and have a long way to go.

  9. Persistence is key! Without it, I’d have nothing but a bunch of ideas stored up on my email folder!

    Personally, I think your song was cute. You should sing it in a vlog!

  10. Ha ha! I wrote a song like once too, it was all about working at the coffee shop 🙂 I’ve still got two novels from high school I ought to go back and reread, for laughs…

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