Destined To Be A Writer****

According to every single cover bio I've read lately--and for some reason I've read quite a few--authors declare they've always known that they were Fated to be writers. The moment they understood that such a vocation existed, writing became their goal. In the bios, they skip mentioning their current life and look back through the mists of time to That Moment They Knew.

"Patsy Writer knew she was a writer before she knew she could talk. She clutched a crayon and pretended to 'make books'."
"Imogene Author decided to become a writer when she experienced a triumphant moment in her second grade classroom. Her first story made her teacher and classmates rise to their feet and break into applause."

I didn't know I was going to write for fun until I was a grown up and it turned out that I was a pretty rotten painter (that took more than my four years of art school to figure out). Writing short stories was more fun than bowling or watching tv, and cheaper than knitting. **

I didn't know I was going to try to write for money until I was 26, had moved to a new town and was hunting through the paper for a job. Here were the two ads that interested me:
1. a freelance writer for a local magazine.
2. a veterinarian assistant.

The vet assistant job was taken.


** and to be fair to Patty and Imogene, it turns out I had always enjoyed creating fiction, only when I was a kid my "writing" took the form of telling spectacular lies.

****Do I sound sarcastic? Maybe. A bit. But not about you, [name of writer who's visiting my blog]. Nuh uh. And maybe I'm bitter because it took me too long to figure out and I'm jealous.


  1. Writing for other people to read my words was never an ambition of mine. Does that make your feel better?

    Whenever I hear a writer say they write strictly to please themselves I understand what they mean, but I think they are lying to themselves the moment they put a stamp on it and mail that private work to an editor. I write the Christmas letter for me. Novels and stories I write to entertain other readers. My Journal is for me. The Path to Publishing was for other writers.

    A novelist saying their manuscript is theirs is like a doctor saying his last operation was for his own sense of accomplishment and not to give another person, a patient, a better quality of life. What is the point in publishing it, then?

    Every thinking person was born to communicate and therefor write. What those examples you give should be saying is, they are born with the desire to entertain and move people to new awareness of their world.

    You are looking in the wrong places for the wrong things when you examine your work. You have fans who were moved by your books. There are readers who read it while awaiting news of loved ones in hospitals. You gave them an escape from the world for awhile.

    That is no small gift, Kate.

  2. I always knew I was going to be a writer. Ever since 'that moment' 5 yrs ago when, for a lark (and on a bit of a dare) I was challenged to put my ideas where my big mouth was and PROVE I could write a better story than patty or imogene.
    The story was written and another alter ego was born.

    Thank you. Thank you very much.


  3. ::Snort::

    I'm thinking I missed the beginning of this drama somewhere along the line.

  4. Aw, I bet you were a writer all along, you just didn't know it until the Novel Fairy reeled you in with the classifieds.

    I've been a writer since I was eight, and a novelist since I was thirteen. Don't hate me; I was not Fated to Be a Writer. Fate had nothing to do with it. It's just what I love, and what I do. Like you, Miss Kate.

  5. I really did write a story at age 5 on white typing paper, self-illustrated, and I tried (unsuccessfully) to sell it to our next door neighbor. My first rejection.

    Then school happened. Some time in my late 30s, I realized that the only thing I liked about research was writing grants. I spent all my free office time writing grants and writing material for my web site. Um . . . writing. Get it?

    I didn't. I spent a year writing a column for iVillage (for good money, actually). After that, I think I knew, but it still crept up on me gradually.

  6. I don't know about fate, but I wrote and illustrated books since I was five (my mother, who thought it was cute, saved everything) My daughter fills notebook after notebook with writing. In my mind, she's already a writer. You don't have to be published to be a writer - you just have to love to communicate with the written word and that usually strikes young, lol.

  7. When I was ten, I told my brother that I would be an author by the time I was fifteen.

    I discovered boys at fourteen, then it was all downhill from there.

    When I left school to pursue my dreams, I followed the money trail. The thought of starving for my art has never really appealed to me.

  8. I don't bore folks with it in my bio, but I always hated writing. I think I still do. It wasn't until I got into college and was given a poetry assignment that the creative bud - mind you I wasn't even aware it existed - bloomed.

  9. I think it's awesome that so many of us were drawn to writing as children, but I read this in so many author bios it's become a cliche. In fact, it's beginning to get on my nerves.

    Partly because, I think, that kind of "I've always been a writer" statement implies that writing is easy or comes naturally, when that is not the case. Also,I think it carries a subtext of "I just knew I was destined to be a writer". As if destiny=publication.

    I see the "I've been writing since I was in utero" so often in bios, it really has begun to grate. I wonder, is that all they can come up with? Can writers only define themselves by when they first remember picking up a pen and how is that relevant to me as a potential reader? Don't they have anything more interesting to say?

    In the few bios I've written to date, I have purposely avoided making any statement as to when I began to write.


  10. I tried so hard to be everything BUT a writer for years and years and years...

    I tried to be an actress. I tried to be a teacher. I tried to be a businesswoman. I tried to be 'just a wife and mother.'

    Then, about four years ago, I said to my very smart sister, in a very quiet voice, "I think...I think I need to write."

    And she said, "Well. Duh."

  11. I've written something since I was about nine. Not always stories, certainly not always novels, and thankfully not always ad copy (which I hate doing).

    I was 38 before I decided to try my hand at being a working writer, especially of book-length fiction, but here I am. Just because I've always written doesn't mean it's always been my vocation or even my dream.

    Was I destined to spend most of my time composing over a keyboard? I doubt it. It just turned out this way.

  12. I started writing in junior high. Really. A friend and I wrote in notebooks, and it was mostly because we looked so studious while we were utterly ignoring the teacher. It was more interesting than history, and that's the truth. Does that count as destined to be a writer?

    I've been seriously writing with the goal of publication since 2004. That's it. Before then, I just farted around, and a lot of it sucked. And yes, I do write some things just for myself, that will never see the light of day, but those are in a seperate file and happen in my spare time. I completely write for my publishers now, fitting their guidelines, and trying to pay attention to what friends and readers have told me they liked.

    So call me a cliche turned practical. I'm thrilled every time a new story comes out into the world, and that's the truth. Every change I made at the urging of an editor is worth it when it goes on sale.


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