What does it mean to tell a story?
Stories from various cultures have been passed down from generation to generation, some through oral tradition, some recorded in writing. The idea of story is what being a fiction writer is all about.
How many of us have sat around a campfire telling scary ghost stories, or been to family gatherings where Uncle Bob tells stories from his childhood or his military days? Humans live for stories. We read them, tell them, watch them on TV or the big screen, and create our own. It’s what we do. As writers, we see stories all around us. Our creative minds develop stories and create characters to act them out. Story is the essence of writing.
Writing has always been a part of my life. As a child, I loved creating stories and making up characters. I wrote short stories, drew illustrations for them, and shared them with my friends. I kept a journal full of song lyrics I liked and wrote daily diary entries to reflect on my thoughts and feelings from the day. When my family would go on vacation or day trips, I brought a journal with me and kept track of the activities we did and the cool things I saw. It was rare to see me without a pencil in my hand.
In Jr. High, my love for writing branched out beyond short stories and personal reflection. I was introduced to the research paper and began a love affair with poetry. I received several awards for research papers I wrote and explored the various elements of poetry writing.
My freshman year of high school, I had several poems published in my high school’s literary magazine. I even earned a college scholarship for a poem I wrote that was later published in a national poetry collection. During this time, I also began playing around with writing fiction. I started off just creating stories in a notebook, most of which I don’t even have anymore. By the time I graduated, I had several notebooks full of stories I had created. The Scrubs series began in one of these notebooks.
I started the series in college, as a hobby more than anything. Back then I wrote only for myself, so the entire story was kept hidden from anyone else’s eyes. Over the years I added to it, changed it, and deleted unnecessary scenes and characters. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I mustered up the nerve to let a dear friend of mine read the entire series. She, and several others, finally convinced me to publish it.
The Scrubs series has grown with me. I wrote the four books during different stages of my life. Scrubs was written mainly during my college years. I wrote Sand & Sutures after I was married and while I was raising two young children. Beyond the Hardwood and Center Stage (both currently in revision) were written together, during a time in my life when my kids were teenagers and making their transition into the adult world. The different stages in my life are reflected in the different books. As I grew, my writing and the characters grew with me.
To this day, I still create stories in my head. These stories have to be told. I write them down, sometimes at inopportune moments, and refine them into full-blown novels. Some ideas are more vivid to me than others, but when I sit in front of keyboard to write, the characters come alive and the story develops on its own.
I wish I would have kept some of the stories I wrote when I was younger. Those journals were full of ideas, and I probably could have used some of them to generate more novels.