THE KID WITH THE
CRAYONS BREAKS FREE !!!
You can’t ignore your creative side forever. Here’s my story and I hope it inspires you to liberate your dark side and find all your missing pieces.
Everyone has a creative side and a sensible side, and I’ve always thought of my creative half as a sort of wayward young kid with a box of crayons. Until recently, I’ve managed to control the kid with the crayons because my sensible adult side developed an unfortunate taste for good food, nice clothing, and a comfortable bed. But it wasn’t always that easy to control and sometimes I wonder if controlling the kid really was as sensible as it seemed.
When I was in first grade, the kid with the crayons slipped out a lot. In one, telling incident, my teacher instructed us to write a nice story, something like the adventures of a little girl and her dog. I listened intently to the instructions but lost control when the kid inside me decided to ignore all the nice black outlines and scribble all over the place. Instead of a sweet story, I wrote about a germ’s adventures through an unfortunate and nameless child’s gastro-intestinal tract, unwittingly revealing not only my desire to write, but my hopeless individualism and odd interest in the more macabre aspects of biology.
However, over the years, I learned to exercise more control. After college, I firmly relegated my internal kid with the wild crayons to a small corner and for twenty years worked as a computer specialist. Life was good, but…missing something. Then, as I neared 40, a series of changes altered my life and outlook forever.
Within a two year period I got married, moved from a major city to a very rural home, left my management position in Information Technology, and took a huge pay cut and downgraded to computer specialist. During this period, both my parents passed away—a devastating blow which left me reeling. I turned forty. Realization hit that life was uncertain and could change in completely unexpected ways. But I lived through it with my internal kid with the crayons humming—albeit a little truculently—in the corner.
Struggling to get back on an even keel, I worked my way up the technical ladder this time, instead of the management ladder. I became an Enterprise Administrator managing nearly 500 domain controllers dispersed nationwide in 30 domains supporting close to 300,000 users. The challenges kept me interested and focused on work, but my personal growth languished.
As I neared fifty, I realized a vital piece of me had gone missing. I ached for something more and time was passing ever more swiftly.
Finally, one night, sitting bored and restless in a hotel room on a business trip, I stared down at my laptop and the little kid with the crayons stood up for the first time in years and announced, “I have had enough!” She started drawing—or rather writing. Wild, crazy stories about individualism and second chances. Ideas and characters that needed to get out and talk to others.
The stories weren’t great and I knew it, so I joined writers groups. I explored the Internet and learned. I met writers from Canada, Great Britain, Australia and all over the United States. I met wonderful, brilliant women eager to share what they knew about writing and provide advice and hugs—even if they were just cyber-hugs—when the inevitable rejections rolled in.
I made friends, lots of them, including best-selling authors who were amazingly generous with their time and friendship. It was an incredible and liberating experience.
Of course as many already know, it’s not easy to get published, even when I tried to follow the rules—or at least the rules I liked. Other writers told me that I couldn’t publish a Regency if it didn’t have several explicit love scenes. “What about Georgette Heyer,” I asked, dumb-founded. “Oh, no one can match her. She’s an exception that proves the rule, and besides, she published in the last century.” That sounded like a challenge to me. I could never step away from a challenge. If someone tells me I can’t do something, unless it’s illegal or immoral, I’m gonna do it—it’s how I climbed the corporate ladder, twice. I took projects that had failed or were considered nearly impossible and completed them.
So, I wrote my novels the way the characters dictated and ignored the rules. However, there was a price exacted for not following the standards. My stories were considered traditional Regencies and the big publishers eliminated these lines as not popular or profitable enough, reminding me again of the difficulties in meeting a challenge head-on and letting the little kid in me draw outside the currently acceptable lines.
But even as I struggled, the Internet and publishing evolved. Smaller publishers realized that there were readers out there who still liked stories such as traditional Regencies and mysteries that didn’t interest the bigger publishers. And readers caught on, too. They discovered they had choices. Maybe not all romances and romantic mysteries had to have explicit bedroom scenes. Romance can exist outside of the bedroom.
Finally, to my profound pleasure and gratitude, a small publisher bought my first manuscript, a traditional Regency romance called Smuggled Rose. It is due out in the May of 2007, first as an e-book and then by November, 2007, as a paperback.
In the flush of energy this created, I’ve since written five more manuscripts, gradually moving toward mysteries set during the Regency period that have enough “color within the lines” to try for publication as traditional Regencies. It is exciting and fulfilling to finally be able to communicate with others and tell my stories, even if the audience is smaller—at the moment.
Despite all the rejections and difficulties in getting published, it has been an experience I cannot regret. As I grow as a writer, there are so many opportunities, friends, choices and changes that I cannot imagine a life spent “only being sensible”. After years of denial and control, my creative little kid who is fascinated with themes like individualism can finally communicate with other people.
As I look forward, I plan to take the final steps and retire early so I can write full time. My second career will span the next twenty years or so and I’m still ignoring all the people who say I can’t write these things the way they need to be written. I can’t wait to prove them wrong.
The kid with crayons is pulling out the wildest colors in the box and grinning insanely, free at last.