Thursday, September 25, 2008


I started writing when I was just a little kid in elementary school. I wrote plays and stories and loved to read them to my class or other classes. Then as I got a little older I became more timid about my writing and stuck to my diary--of course thinking it was a private place to write and my mother wouldn't read it. I had secret codes that were decoded on the last page in case I forgot what my code stood for. For instance, S2C was decoded in the back as smoked 2 cigarettes. Oh, the naiveté of youth. Then in high school I became a real closet writer--I didn't want to be thought of as a geek. I wanted to major in journalism when I went to college but back in the age of dinosaurs a lot of state universitites, like the University of North Carolina, didn't allow women except for the school of nursing. They had a great journalism program, but my gender locked me out. I ended up at East Carolina University as an English major, but then switched to education. Education and nursing were about the only careers for women then. Wow, things have changed--for the better!

I did take a creative writing class and did horribly. I had huge differences with the professor and hadn't lived long enough to know that I should assess my methods for achieving my goal. In other words, my goal was to pass the class, but no, I had to lock horns with the professor when I should have swallowed back my opinions and just gotten on with it.

After college I did what all women did then. I got married. In the back of my mind I was always going to write. But things got in the way like the housekeeping thing, then the diapers, then carpooling and working, then soccer and t-ball, then . . . It just kept on until one day I had a birthday that got my attention. I realized I'd better get busy, time was running out. I went out and bought a computer that I didn't know how to work. It was an Apple 2c with a tiny green screen. I brought it home to the shock of my family, set it up near the kitchen and waited until after everyone was in bed. I sat my butt down in front of the thing that had just cost my family all its savings plus, switched the thing on, and then was horror struck. I had nothing to say, no story to tell.

I'll never forget that moment of terror. Of course I did come up with a story (I used to wirte historical fiction under another name) and finally belched up 100,000 words. Yet even today, every time I start a new book, I get that same shudder of fear. Can I do it again or was it just a fluke. Sometimes I think they have all been flukes.


Jessica Lourey said...

Keep on fluking, Lynn!

G.M. Malliet said...

That's no fluke, Lynn. It's called drive and talent. Good for you.

I am still getting over the shock that you weren't allowed to study journalism. That's just insane but of course I'm speaking from the 21st-century perspective.

Mark Combes said...

I once heard an inteview with Paul Newman and he said he got nervous before every scene. And he liked it that way because it meant he cared. He wanted to do a good job. And the minute he stopped being scared is the minute he should quit.

So here's to being scared for many more years to come!

Cricket McRae said...

The ability to drive through the fear is what makes some people writers and other people wannabes. I admire your persistence and talent. Keep 'em coming, Lynn!

Joe Moore said...

Someone said that a word for a writer that never gives up is "published".

Don't get scared now, we're a third of the way through our new book.

Keith Raffel said...

I don't know if you're scared, but it looks like you definitely scared Joe with this posting.

Lynn Sholes said...

I think I scared Joe, too!