We all start somewhere. Anyone who does anything gets an initial inspiration to do whatever it is they do. Writers are no exception. What exactly is it that makes people want to write what they write? What makes us pick up a pen (or put fingers on a keyboard) and write? This week’s question comes from our very own H. Anthe Davis.
I actually don’t feel as though I had a choice in either getting into writing or choosing a genre. I’ve been making up stories since Kindergarten – I remember writing a “book” at my mother’s friend’s dining room table and driving them both crazy because the only words I knew how to spell were “the” and “and.” I’ve been doing it ever since. Same with genre… It doesn’t matter what I start or what my intentions begin as. Since I don’t plot a story (or when I do it’s very loose and only in my head), my works tend to take on a life of their own and inevitably turn to something dark… or at least shades of gray and often end in a twist that not even I was expecting.
I’ve always been a storyteller. My genre of choice? What genre is that? In all seriousness, I write what I like to read.
It started in the 7th grade with my English teacher. We had to write poetry. Nothing I wrote was great, but it showed me that I had something to say and it gave me a way to say it. In College, I wrote a short story for my niece when she was born. Throughout life moments and changes, writing has provided an outlet, a way to express myself. For the most part they were unread and contained in a cardboard box, they were practice. Now, I write short fiction and mystery novels based on life in the South. Why? Because I love the South. The South is full of quirky characters and odd customs. The swamps and bayous that run like ribbons through the area are the perfect places to commit a murder. Yes, murder. I’m a Southern Baptist who drinks way too much caffeine and dreams up ways to kill characters off.
I’ve had ideas for stories for as long as I can remember, and back in school I had a teacher that encouraged me to write, and yet I didn’t really get serious about it until much later. I suppose that you could just say I realized one day that I could really do it. Sorry I don’t have a better answer.
Pretty much all my ideas have been science fiction or fantasy of some sort, so what genre I’d write is nothing I ever needed to put much thought into.
It’s difficult to pin down. I’ve held an interest in writing stories for as long as I can remember, but didn’t make any serious effort to do so until I was in high school. It started with co-authoring stories with a friend of mine, starting with the basic details of a fledgling character and winging it. After a few of those I worked up the courage to write something of my own.
I picked the genres I preferred to read or watch. I started with crime, mainly because my favoriteTV show at the time was Law & Order. But when that crime novel started to develop more fantastic elements, I explored fantasy and science fiction more. I haven’t looked back since.
I got into writing at a young age, after we had a little creative writing assignment at school in the third grade. I was already a big reader at that point, and I really enjoyed creating my own story for a change. Around this time was also when I had first met my best friend, and she enjoyed making up stories as well, so we used to write stories featuring ourselves and our friends and then swap and read. We did this for years, until we eventually started writing more “professional” stuff (i.e. not using ourselves as characters), as well as a lot of fan-fiction (I was big into Star Wars at the time so I wrote lots of stories featuring Luke).
There were times when it seemed like all I did was write, and times when I got distracted by other things and went months without putting a single word to paper, but my desire to write definitely never faded. It followed me through high school and college, and when school was finally over and I found myself out into the work world, it followed me there as well.
My genre of choice? Well it’s not one specific genre…I’m all about speculative fiction. I like horror, supernatural, and fantasy worlds – all that stuff that is partially grounded in reality, but is full of outrageous unreality. I love the scary thoughts that keep us up at night, the daydreams of other worlds and grand adventures. I love the genres that allow us to imagine that the world could be somewhat more than what it is. When I was a kid that was the kind of stuff I loved to read, the kind of stuff I loved to watch on TV or absorb via video games, so it only makes sense that these are the genres that I would love to write in as an adult.
Early in life, I’d say it was my third grade teacher who pushed me to write. As far as getting serious about writing, I stumbled upon NaNoWriMo on a forum where I’d been writing fan fiction. After my first NaNo, where I wrote my second novel in thirty days rather than the many years it had taken for the first, I stuck around the forums and met my first critique partner. That led to learning about editing and querying, and finding many more critique partners that eventually resulted writing that didn’t suck.
When I started writing more seriously, I was writing westerns and sci-fi. While I love a good western, I found my stride in what I read, meaning all things speculative.
I started writing when I was young to entertain my classmates. All of my stories had my friends as characters. Then, as school demands increased, I quit writing. It wasn’t until a few years ago when my husband was working on his own novel, that I decided I’d churn something I’d been turning around in my head onto paper. I didn’t realize I was writing a novel until I was a good 50,000 words in. At that point, I was committed—and hooked!
Ha! I got into writing because I was born with breath in my lungs, and I haven’t looked back ever since. My genre, though? I mostly just got sick of never seeing the dark, violent, sexual, queer, colorful sides of stories. I got sick of watching straight white men fall in love with straight white women *all the damned time, everywhere*. So I wrote outside of that, and I guess I landed in whatever genre it is that I landed on.
I started writing at a young age, mostly in those little blue test books they used to give you in elementary schools for writing essays. Maybe on some level I was dissatisfied with my books and wanted to write things I considered more interesting, because the first story I can remember writing was about a princess’s handmaiden, who was a lot smarter than the princess. Royalty was never my thing. As for my genre (fantasy and sci-fi), I got that from my mother, who got that from her father. According to my mom, she started giving me Dragonlance novels when I was eight. I picked up a later love of horror possibly because New England (where I lived as a kid) is a spooky sort of place, and I read a lot of ghost stories and watched a lot of Unsolved Mysteries and then started reading Stephen King, et cetera… It grew from there.
I got started in a rather unusual way. I wasn’t into fiction at all when I was a kid, but I loved science books and encyclopedias. I started transcribing some of the encyclopedia entries onto paper. That’s right, I was copying the encyclopedia. It moved on to creating my own material to make presentations about different countries. I had a bulletin board in my bedroom and started off with Afghanistan, writing about the history, the people, and so on.
My first experience writing fiction wasn’t until high school, and my chosen genre was science fiction. It was basically like a scene from Armageddon, though I’d written it several years before the movie came out. But it wasn’t until university that I decided I really wanted to write. That’s when I created Ariadne. I had a story in my head to go with the world, and that story is still in my head waiting to come out. With this world, I wanted to mix science fiction and fantasy, though the fantasy elements have become more scientific. I also enjoy writing fantasy, though haven’t finished anything. I’ve begun a couple books and intend on going back to them in the future. The reason I chose speculative fiction is that I love creating worlds where I can use my imagination.
How about you?
If you are a writer, how did you get started, and why did you choose the genre you write in? Leave your answers in the comments below.