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  • Writer's pictureT.S. Curtis

My Writing Journey, from a Writer who Almost Wasn't

Updated: Jan 15, 2023

(Originally published March 2022)

One of my favourite things going around Twitter right now are the tweets of writers explaining their publishing journeys by age. It has been a really great reminder of what a journey being a writer is, and it's been nice to see so many writers talking about how they were in their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond when they wrote or published their first stories. My novels aren't published, self or traditionally, but my writing journey has been filled with some pretty extreme lows but somehow, I'm still writing (and I still love it).

9: Finished my first 'novel' and decided I loved writing.

10: Kept writing little stories, usually getting yelled at by teachers for writing stories in the margins of all the homework assignments I handed in.

11: Sharing some stories with teachers and in writing groups. Started telling people I liked to write. Used Writing Career as my "Future Me" Health Class presentation.

12: Writing was the thing that helped me escape from the mental health problems I was mostly trying to ignore. Had some writing friends and we all shared out writing. Finished my first screenplay, and my longest novel to that point. Had a short story rejected from a young writers anthology for being 'too much' and still don't entirely know what that meant. Had a best friend at camp who shared writing with me, and we wrote each other into our stories.

13: Was told by someone I thought I trusted that I'm not the Kind Of Person who gets published. (Did I know what they meant? No. Still trying to figure that out, but it hurt even more not being able to pinpoint what they thought was wrong with me that I would Never be published.) Decided that meant I would never get published and wrote stories for myself instead of anyone else. There was a lot of crying that year.

14: Was writing mostly in secret. There was a lot of crying. Second time we did "Future Me" type presentations in school. Didn't use writing. When someone remembered and asked what had changed, I told them I just didn't think I would be a good author.

15: Shared some writing with my roommate and started to find a confidence in writing again. Still believed i could never get published, and focused on writing poems and stories just for me. Had a teacher support my poetry writing.

16: Shared some more writing with friends. Participated on the Slam Poetry team.

17: Didn't make the slam poetry team. Wasn't accepted into my school's creative writing class. Combined with the mental and physical health things I was dealing with, I stopped writing for over a year, even though characters and stories kept taking root in my head.

19: Slowly started writing again, trying to deal with how depressed I was. Still believing I would never publish and never have readers, I focused on writing the stories and poems I wanted to read, and using them as an outlet to figure things out.

Almost 20: Self-published two poetry collections (Heart & Healing, and Shades of Blue)

21: Had 12 half-finished novels. A friend read the almost finished draft of I&C and tried to convince me it was good enough to try and publish. I refused. Talked a bit about writing online. Quietly started my website to share and talk about writing.

22: The year things started to change:

  • Republished my poetry collections Heart & Healing and Shades of Blue, and released my third collection Let Them Stare

  • Finished I&C

  • Started talking about writing more online

  • Found my way to Writing Twitter and finally felt like writing was a community and not the thing letting me just escape from how lonely I was

  • Let my mom start reading my work. I love my mom but she can be critical and hearing that she enjoyed (a more in depth post on that coming later this week)

  • Started sharing my writing with a few friends

  • Convinced myself that there isn't a Kind of Person who gets to be a writer and, despite all my fears, decided to share my writing. A long road ahead, but I'm ready.

Writing is hard. It's even harder when you're told that you can't do it. I still don't know why that person told me I would never get published. Sure, I don't know if I ever will publish, but I've stopped letting myself believe that it will never happen.

I don't necessarily know if I can say something good came of what that person said. The reality is what they said nearly broke me, and meant that later in life when a small blip on my writing journey happened, I stopped writing and completely lost my sense of self. But if something kind of good did come from what that person told me at 13, it's that I chose to write for myself. Every story I've written for nearly ten years, the 37 half-completed books across 14 half-completed series have come from writing for myself. I didn't feel the need to please anyone else, so every story is one that I'm so incredibly proud of because I have accomplished the one thing I wanted, to write the stories I wanted to read. Who knows where my journey will go from here.

Happy reading, happy writing everyone! -TS

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