Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How it all began.

So I thought it was probably time to catch you all up...

It's been a crazy month and it will, no doubt, get crazier.
In case you somehow missed it, I have a contracted book in the works. Although, I don't know how you would have missed that I've been singing it from the rooftops but either way...
My book has an ISBN number :D and I have a tentative release date :D
I really still can't believe that this is my life. It's crazy. I'm so fortunate that I've made it this far but I'm greedy and I want more. I want a career in this. I want to build a life on my writing and a name for myself. It doesn't have to be a big name (it'd be nice) but a nice steady loyal fan base would do.

During this experience I've been asked frequently and repeatedly when I started writing. I think to explain that fully we need to backtrack quite a ways - all the way back to fifth grade.

*Insert Wayne's World flashback noise*
I'd always been a voracious reader. At the time I was really into choose-your-own-adventure stories but my mom always put a limit on the number of books we could check out at one time. My brother, was not as interested in books as I was, took the whole twenty-eight days to get to his and even then he usually barely touched them.
I was done with my books in about a week. My Mom then put a cap on how many choose-your-own-adventure books I could take out at a time. If I wanted something that would last me longer than a couple days than I had to chose more difficult books. Which wasn’t really a problem I've always loved books.
Sometime in fifth grade we were given an assignment, after reading with the whole class My Side Of The Mountain, we had to use some of the words we learned in the book to create our own sentences. Many of the students used up all the vocabulary words in a paragraph and if not a paragraph at least a page.
Mine was about twelve pages long and a complete story. The teacher, Mrs. Snogren, held onto that assignment until Parent Teacher Conferences where she gave the story to my parents and told them that this was uncommon - the other students hadn't responded to the writing prompt quite like I had.

I have to tell you this story before I can continue with the one I'm telling you now. I wanted to be a singer. I was obsessed with music. I stayed inside most of the summer between fourth and fifth grade watching MTV. I was well-versed in my Beck, Beastie Boys and Fiona Apple by utter default. I wanted to be a singer - probably mostly due to the fact that I was convinced becoming famous was the only way to nab me Taylor Hanson.
I knew the whole bands shoe size. I knew their middle names and the names of their first girlfriends - their home town. It was a sick, ugly obsession that manifested itself in life-size posters all over my walls, their names appeared on every planner, notebook - thing I owned.
I sat in my room playing out our future with Barbies while their c.d. played over and over. I knew that we were soul-mates but he had to meet me - he just had to. How could he possibly know how perfect we were for each other if he never met me? I needed to reach stardom and I liked singing and I was good at writing songs - Perfect!
Except it wasn't so perfect.
I was horrible. Glass shattered when I sang - ear drums ruptured and no matter how many times I tried out for that solo in music class - no matter how many times I didn't get it - no matter how many times she told me that I was better in a group - I just never got it through my thick-Taylor-Hanson-Obsessed skull.
Until the day my brother begged my mother "Make her stop! Please make her stop!" It wasn't him. It wasn't his begging. He was musically beneath me. He didn't know good music and talent when it was right in front of him. No, it wasn't my brother - but what my Mother did next that put the tiny pin prick in my hopes and dreams.
She didn't tell him that I was a musical prodigy. She didn't tell him that I had the voice of an angel. She didn't tell him I was the next Britney Spears. She gave him earplugs...
But while it was devastating it had after all only been a pinprick so I locked myself in my room with my leaflets of songs I'd written spread out in front of me and I belted out my Kelli Originals into my recording Karaoke machine.
It was when my parents came home from parent teacher conferences and showed me the story I'd written months ago for class that everything began to change. My singing annoyed them - my Hanson obsession exasperated them (especially when it led us to an entire amphitheater of screaming pre-teens) but this - this they seemed proud of.
My mom, who you've probably already realized, is not one of those blindly supportive American Idol type mothers. She doesn't mince words. While she never out and out told me that I sucked and couldn't hold a note she never encouraged the dream either.
She said to me "Kelli, why don't you become a writer instead."
"A writer?" I asked. I'd apparently never put two and two together before.
"Yes someone who writes books? An author?"
"People do that?" I exclaimed
Wheels were turning and things started clicking in my head and in my heart. I loved books - my favorite part of singing had been the lyrics I'd joyfully and dutifully jotted down whenever the inspiration hit.
I could do that. I could write books. Since then I've been creating stories, worlds, and characters. I wrote my very first completed book in paper and pencil when I was twelve years old. In middle school my best-friend and I wrote books all day long together switching off notebooks of stories between every period - this lasted into high school - where it died down considerably.
Reality had begun to be kicked into our brains. Other kids were taking the SATs - I didn't. Other kids were stressing about what University they were going to get accepted into - not me. I knew what I wanted to do and I didn't need schooling for it.
I went to Delta that fall majoring in Libral Arts. I had a teacher, Pat Haller - who later turned out to be one of the most inspirational teachers I've ever had, asked me what I was going to do with that degree.
I told her dreamily - in a way only a dewy-faced Freshman could that I was going to be an Author. She laughed and said good luck and that I should have a back-up plan.
I was lost and disheartened after that. I spent the next three years, flunking out of school. I spent four years getting my Associates degree (of which I still don't have.)
I had no drive. There were things I'd found passing interest in. I love sign language but Delta only had a feeder program for translators and I thought about that old adage - "Those who can't do - Teach" I decided to become an English Teacher but the market just isn't there and I didn't have the drive.
About four years after I graduated high school I started writing again. It was at first something I did in my spare time - or just before bed. I was doing it on sheets of ruled paper - just like I'd done in Middle School. It wasn't until a plot had developed and an old friend had come back into my life that I started talking about that old dream that I'd had.
I went back to school that fall. I still had no idea where I was heading but I had to take Patrica's class over again to beef up my GPA. But my attitude was different. I was different. For the first time in a long time I was putting my needs first and I was all business.
My relationship with Pat was amazing this time around. I've learned so much from her that I don't think I would have been able to get where I am without taking her class (twice.) This time I wasn't listening to anything anyone had to say - except for maybe Kanye, who I'd read an article on once where he'd been asked by the journalist what his plan b was? Kanye answered by saying that if he'd had a backup plan that's what he'd be doing, if he'd had a plan to fall back on he wouldn't have made it to where he is today.
After that semester I went full-force. I was writing full-time - all the time and my husband was endlessly supportive. I joined RWA. I went to conferences; I read newsletters and articles about the business. I pitched my books and then one day I got some nibbles and those nibbles turned into a bite and now here I am with one foot in the door...
It's taken me a lifetime to get here and I've still got a long way to go but it's been a driving force, for basically my whole life. I need this. This is who I am. It's the only thing I know. I have to make it. This has to work - which means I  have to work. I have no other choice. I have no Plan B. This is it.