Clark I reviews books and sometimes writes them!
Would I? I have thought of this question many times as I push forward. I think it’s good to stop and evaluate once in awhile. Am I on the right track? Could I have avoided the pitfalls? Can I learn from my mistakes? Here’s what I came up with:
I wish I’d started earlier. I wrote every chance I could, in secret as a child. My mother thought it was a waste of time when I could be outdoors or doing chores.
I wish I’d understood the teachers who raved about my talent instead of being embarrassed to be singled out.
I wish I’d been the homecoming queen instead of the editor of the high school newspaper, guaranteed to kill one’s social status.
I wish I’d grabbed opportunities that presented themselves. If I’d married the scarred Vietnam vet, his father promised me a writing career on the AAA travel magazine. I could have had a terrific career and a bad marriage. I ran in the other direction. I joined the Navy.
I wish I hadn’t settled for being a dental tech in the military. Schools weren’t guaranteed for women back in 1972 and dental training was all I was offered. Later I found out that if I had passed on the offer, I would have been mopping floors until I could “strike” for a journalism position. While I didn’t take the gamble, I did volunteer at every base newspaper where I was stationed.
I wish my college profs wouldn’t have pushed me to interview for a local newspaper in my junior year. I was the token woman and apparently wasn’t suppose to score three front page stories in one edition. The men resented me and my love of journalism died.
I wish I had started my first novel earlier. Instead, I went on to work in the narcotics division of the sheriff’s department and realized I had everything to become a mystery writer—including great plots.
I wish I’d published before I was seasoned. All sorts of options were there: Publish America, Xlibris, the new e-book format. Instead, I watched and learned from other’s mistakes. I studied the trends in publishing, learned about the industry, weighed my chances with a large publishing house and finally made a decision. I picked a growing publishing house that NEEDED me as much as I needed it. I found I liked making decisions with the publisher and having my ideas heard.
I wish I’d known that I was a good public speaker. Instead, I practiced with a video camera and worked on my flaws (stop the hair flipping, no “uhhs”). Volunteering on panels and not worrying so much about being judged as being listened to took awhile to sink in.
I wish I’d censored my tongue and my prose. My opinions sometimes raises eyebrows and provokes responses. So do my novels. I get kicked off or moderated on list serves. People remember who I am. I’m controversial. Oh wait—that’s a good thing, right?
So, would I do anything differently if I could rewind the clock? No, I don’t think so. Everything in my life, every crazy decision I made and strange road I followed made me the writer I am today. I guess I trusted my judgment and stayed true to my ideals. I couldn’t ask for more or done anything differently. And anyway, time doesn’t go backward, it only moves forward. So should we.