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I Have Something to Say

How mentoring a teenager helped me find my writing voice.

If you know me, the title of this post might make you laugh. I’m never at a loss for words. Some might even call me annoyingly chatty.

But for a long time, my inner storyteller was silent.

I always intended to be a writer. In third grade, I told my friends I was going to publish a book, and I sincerely meant it. I just didn’t realize how long it would take. At that age, I hid in my closet or locked myself in the bathroom to write stories. I had a wealth of ideas–mostly adventure stories patterned after the Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew mysteries I loved.

But somehow, somewhere on the way to adulthood, I ran out of  ideas.  I think it happened after college, when I was working as a technical writer.  Churning out reports, all in the same template, did nothing for my whimsical side.  My first book, an historical nonfiction based on a journal written by my great-great-great grandfather in 1838, required me to be a researcher and a detective. It was a great experience, but it didn’t kindle a creative flame within my soul.

Then I mentored a teenager.

A teenager who thought just as fast as I did. Whose ideas tumbled over each other as they made their way to the chat screen during epic brainstorm sessions. Who made me work hard to stay ahead of him.  And whose writing felt like Kerouac long before he read On the Road.

One day he had this idea. We kicked it around, and it was fun. When he gave it to me to keep, it morphed and changed and grew until I’m not sure if he’d recognize it anymore. Because in the midst of mentoring, I realized I really did have something to say. It was such an amazing discovery that I sat at the computer and cried for joy.

That something was the story Counteract.

1 Comment

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