Susan Dean Elzey works as a freelance writer and reporter in beautiful southern Virginia. She is the mother of seven grown children, two grown stepchildren, and an ever-increasing brood of grandchildren. Her oldest daughter, Dawn, has cerebral palsy, which has colored every moment of her life for the past 37 years. Her latest novel Miracle of the Christmas Star, which details the struggles and faith of a mother of a handicapped daughter during Biblical times, was published by Cedar Fort in September. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and let her know if you enjoyed it!
I always wanted to be a writer. When I was younger and everyone my age watched Superman and wanted to be Clark Kent or Lois Lane, I wanted to be cub reporter Jimmy Olsen. I submitted essays to the literary magazine in junior high only to have them rejected. I found some success writing ads for the high school yearbook””yay! And in a college creative writingclass I could count on my writing being read aloud by the professor as one of the examples of the bad writing. But still I believed.
Then one day years later I met the writer Orson Scott Card at church where he was visiting. He had a young child with cerebral palsy; I had a daughter with cerebral palsy. I invited his family over for dinner to offer what advice and strength we had gathered over the years. After dinner, with all the nerve I could muster, I told him I had always wanted to be a writer. He tossed out, “Write something and send it to me.”
To his surprise, by the end of the week I had three short stories in the mail. And he liked two of them! One went on to win a short story contest, and his publishing company published my first novel 22 years ago.
And so I became a writer and eventually returned to school to become a reporter. I’m not close to rich or famous (yet), but I can proudly say that “I’m a writer.” And when they tell me they’ve always wanted to be a writer, I ask them if they’ve ever written anything.
To the usual answer of “No,” I reply, “Well, write something and send it to me.”
After all, you can’t become a writer unless you actually write.
It’s not that hard. (Getting published might be, but writing isn’t!) When my children were babies, I would put them down for afternoon naps and march right to my computer to write for an hour. Sometimes it was a page, sometimes two.
As they got too old for naps, I would put them to bed at night and sit down immediately to write a page or two””before the laundry got folded or the toys got picked up. When they’d scream for a glass of water, I’d scream back that I was writing and I’d take them to Disney World when I sold the book if they’d leave me alone. (I still owe them that!)
When I had to go to work, there were lunch hours, breaks, weekends and still evenings.
Two pages become ten after a week or two and eventually 50, then 100, and then it’s time for the epilogue. If you want to be a writer, start writing. Carve out a few minutes, sit down, and write whatever comes out. Even if it doesn’t have a form at first, it will eventually.
And then you too will be a writer!