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Immersion, Writing, & Mom

How did you start writing?

I think I started to take writing seriously in the third grade. That’s when I wrote my first award-winning story,

The Secret of Devil’s Eye Canyon,” as a teacher-required entry into the Illinois Young Author’s Competition. The story was, well, maybe not brilliant, but also maybe not bad for a third grader. I became a state finalist, which meant I got to attend my first ever writing conference (for kiddos) on the campus of Illinois State University. Of course I thought I was pretty big stuff. And I fell in love with the craft.

My mother, an avid reader and a demanding editor, encouraged me to read literary fiction starting when I was pretty young, and never let me turn in a paper that hadn’t been critiqued at the sentence level. I loved the reading. I didn’t always love the editing. But I did grow to appreciate it as I got older and discovered that not only was this writing thing more than just a passing phase, it was also hard work. And it was worth it.

Why do you love it?

There are probably a lot of reasons I still love it. The biggest is that I have never lost my love of reading. Just getting wrapped up in the lives of well-drawn characters or imaginative settings, or even diving into the mind and passion of a nonfiction author for a while, really feels like a wonderful privilege. I love to be able to provide that experience for others. And, more selfishly, while reading a book takes a little while, writing a book takes a good long while. I really enjoy every single step in the process of bringing characters and stories to life because I get to spend so much time with them. I even enjoy the painstaking, sentence level editing. (Thanks, Mom!)