I’ve lived in five states and three time zones, the majority of the time in Northern California, where I was born and raised, and Portland, Oregon, where the sun is a mysterious novelty that confuses the locals. During that time, I’ve worn quite a few hats: librarian (my current day job), English teacher, wife, mother, and obsessive gardener. I was even a Jeopardy contestant about 20 years ago (spoiler alert: I lost. Cue up that Weird Al song.)
Through all the ages and stages of my life, I have written. As best I can remember, I first started writing for the sake of writing (as opposed to for the sake of completing an assignment and thereby staving off parental wrath) in 5th grade, when I decided that since Marcia Brady had a diary, I needed one, too. I journaled through high school and college, filling cheap spiral notebooks with whiny angst about whatever rock star or classmate I was crushing on. I became an academic librarian and, under my legal name (which–spoiler alert–is not Janet Alcorn1) wrote journal articles and even co-edited a real, actual, honest-to-goodness book.
I’d always wanted to write fiction, but a disastrous attempt at a short story in high school convinced me I had no talent, and I was enough of a sucker to believe that talent was inborn, and you had it or you didn’t, and I didn’t. And so I approached age 50 with one huge unfulfilled dream.
I don’t know exactly when or how I started to think seriously about writing fiction, but I do remember taking a break at work one slow afternoon and Googling, “how to write a novel.” Yes, I really did that–and I am a professional librarian, i.e. an expert searcher, and I launched my writing career with a lame-ass Google search. *sigh* Anyway, one of the first results I found was the website for the Snowflake Method. Randy Ingermanson made the process sound do-able, so I started doing it. As I planned and drafted my first novel, Vanishing, Inc., I read everything I could find on how to write fiction, and I learned as I went along. The first draft was horrible. The second draft wasn’t much better. Many additional drafts ensued, each one sucking a little less than the last (this iterative process of suckage reduction is called, “revision,” otherwise known as authorial hell). I recently sent draft [redacted] to a professional editor for further suckage reduction.
When I’m not earning a living in the
salt mine library or wrangling cantankerous fictional people, I garden, listen to 80s rock at ear-bleeding volume, and hang out with my husband, son, and these two nutballs:
- Why do I write under a pseudonym? Would you want to discuss some Very Important Academic Library Issue across a conference table from someone who had read one of your sex scenes? Yeah, didn’t think so.