I think there are people out there who always knew they wanted to be a writer. As children, they may have written stories and dreamed of publishing a book. They may have actively submitted pieces to magazines or publishers starting at an early age.
And then there's people like me, who didn't identify as a writer until later in life.
In this article, I'll share the events that led me to want to write (more publicly). Though, as I reflect, I realize that maybe it was bound to happen. But for a while it seemed a bit random to feel compelled to write. I think everyone has different reasons to put pen to paper (or words to a computer screen). And in the end, if your "why" leads you closer to your authentic self and life purpose, then I think that's reason enough for me.
Writing Chose Me
I've certainly heard over the years that "writers are readers," but I didn't always think the inverse was true—that readers were writers...
As long as I can remember, I've loved books. I loved school and homework. I viewed getting more books as a reward. Yes, I was that kid. Naturally curious with a deep love of learning. And I was fortunate to have these qualities nurtured by my parents.
When I was around five years old, my mom took me to the public library for the first time. I vividly remember that visit. On that sunny Southern California day, I was introduced to my version of mecca. I got my first library card and learned what an amazing resource there is just down the street in my neighborhood. There is place to go and check out books—over and over again. And they are happy to let you borrow them!
I developed a lifelong love of reading, and over time, I started to notice that reading a lot put me at an advantage when it came to writing. I would score highly on school exams related to reading and writing; and at work, I would be pretty good at articulating thoughts and information in reports. Though, I never really considered reading and writing as a marketable skill set in the real world for some reason. Maybe I thought that because I wasn't in a formal "writing profession" like journalism or creative writing that I couldn't showcase or own this strength? I think I simply considered it as something that I just happened to be good at, privately.
And so I lived my life through childhood and early adulthood. I got good grades, I wrote decently in school and in work, got a couple of masters degrees, and moved up the traditional career ladder. And I admit, during those years of "the grind," I didn't read as much (for fun) as I wanted to; life had taken over I suppose.
Then, in a few years ago, I decided to do a career transition from healthcare leadership to freelance editing. I had considered freelance editing as something that would be cool to do in the years prior, but I never really made any steps toward that goal. I think I was afraid to take that leap. In 2020, though, my mentality shifted from "stay the course" to "yolo."
I took courses on editing, started my freelance business, and did all the research and prep I could to start providing freelance editing services. And as a result, I started to feel closer to that inner child who read for fun and loved learning. My love for words came back. I started using the library again. I took recommendations from others on books that were outside of my normal orbit. I joined a book club. My heart and mind opened up.
And on a sunny, fall morning in 2022, when I was driving to an indie author event about 100 miles north to volunteer at a booth, an idea popped in my head for a children’s book about the library featuring a Latina girl. My first thought was what a random idea, where did that come from? At that time I was mainly a nonfiction editor. I wrote for me, through journaling, for example, but I had never considered it as something to do publicly, let alone write a children's book.
Though, I started to piece together that this idea actually came to me at a full circle moment. You see, the indie author event was held at a public library—which happened to be the same one I got my first library card at... My family had lived in that community for generations, but I moved in fourth grade, so I hadn't been to that library since I was a small child. The library that issued my first library card was hosting an author event where I was going to as an editor, representing an editorial organization. It turned out that card helped that little Mexican American girl keep her dreams and curiosity going after that first visit. She took it as a baton through life. And even though life took her down one track for a large portion of her life, she eventually found her way back to her love of books—and her childhood library where it all started.
After this, I felt compelled to write.
I Followed My Intuition
This idea for a children's book stayed with me. I even voiced it out loud to a fellow editor at the indie author event when I got there. I explained to her I just had this idea for a book, but I don't really know how to start or if it's worth pursuing. She gave me some editorial contacts and resources for children's book writing as well as some validation that it is possible to pursue this (she herself had written a memoir recently).
Still, I wasn't totally sure if I should pursue the book idea, so I shared it with another fellow editor. This colleague had also written a book recently, and she confirmed it was totally possible to explore this children's book idea. She gave some recommendations for writer/publisher conferences, and I signed up. These conferences and words of advice felt like bread crumbs to follow my intuition and explore more. I started being connected with other people in the publishing industry and I began to feel like this was something that I needed to give a shot.
Time to Share with the World
After a few months, I decided to re-brand my business from one with a focus on healthcare editing, to one that leaves space for more creative ventures, like writing children's books and a blog. I decided I would try this out and begin working on my manuscript. And since I was so compelled to start writing in general, I started a blog to share my experiences with editing, writing, and career transitions.
I've found that writing helps me get ideas more organized in my head. It helps free my mind a bit and balance things out from left-brain tasks. It allows me to express myself and share knowledge and experience with others. But mostly, it feels in line with what I'm supposed to be doing at this juncture in my life; and that feels pretty good. That idea that popped into my head while driving up the coast has led me to want to continue writing—it was the gateway I suppose. And I think that's worth pursuing.
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