Sunday, June 7, 2009

Outside In

I knew pretty early on that I wanted to be a writer. In fact I was 7 when I decided that I would start like S.E. Hinton, who published “The Outsiders” when she was only 19.

In college I cleverly decided to learn something practical and majored in Creative Writing (and German and European history). But suddenly I was older than S.E. Hinton had been and I still wasn’t published. Maybe I wasn’t a writer after all.

After I graduated, and in spite of my well chosen degrees, I immediately got a job writing. But it was a different kind of fiction. I was in Silicon Valley before and after the tech boom of the 90s where I learned how to write clearly about computer software and how to use that software.

Well, that’s how it should have worked, but since it take more time to print manuals than to burn CDs, the software rarely actually worked before I had to have the manuals finished, so I wrote a highly specialized form of fiction about how the software might actually work when it was done. Let me tell you, computer programmer readers HATE that kind of fiction.

I kept writing. I wrote two novels, had essays and short stories published and invariably answered the question: what do you do with “I’m a technical writer,” leaving out all the things that I wrote that were most important to me.

I married a wonderfully supportive man and had a terrific child who ate up all my writing time for three straight years and taught me everything about creativity and observation and being human so that when I went back to writing, I was better than ever before. And I wrote “A Trace of Smoke.” I'm older than S.E. Hinton was, but I got here.

That’s the short version anyway. More to come…

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