A note from Headbuzzer: This week, Clare Vanderpool will be guest posting on the blog about her new book, Navigating Early! We're giving away 15 ARCs right here on the blog! Just leave a comment on Clare's posts when she updates and we'll be picking winners from the comments, so update your mailing address! We'll announce the winners at the end of this week on our ARC & Contest Winners board!
How I Became an Author by Clare Vanderpool
"A long time ago, high on a lonely hilltop, there lived an old woman."
That was the first sentence of an early writing assignment. Our whole class was supposed to write a story using that same opening line. Well, I was hooked! I loved it! I loved the process of fleshing out a character, creating conflict, suspense, tension. I enjoyed describing the setting in sensory detail so that the page becomes a window open to sounds, smells, and a crystal clear view.
That early experience of writing stayed with me and the desire to write remained strong. But, strangely, for many years I didn’t write. Those creative writing assignments dried up in high school and college and life was busy and full. My saving grace during those years was reading. Lots and lots of reading.
I have always been a reader, a lover of story. So even in the years when the writing was sparse, other peoples’ stories nourished me and helped keep that dream of writing alive. Writers like Madeleine L’Engle, Scott O’Dell, J.R.R.Tolkien, and Laura Ingalls Wilder, and later, Wendell Berry, Willa Cather, Mark Twain, and Harper Lee. They carried me along.
Years later, I decided it was time to put pen to paper again. And my stories were still there. They’d never left. I found I still enjoyed pondering over a story. I loved getting quiet enough to hear the characters’ voice. I even discovered a new element of writing that I hadn’t really experienced in my early days. The element of surprise. That moment when something happens in my story that I didn’t expect. Something that changes the story. And sometimes changes me.
Writing for me can be challenging, demanding, thrilling, lonely, sometimes joyful, and sometimes heartbreaking. But always, it’s a gift. One that I am grateful for everyday.