Today, we have writer/author Brandy McKay, giving those of us who are on the fence about this writing-thing, who wonder if we really can do it, can accomplish a life-long dream, the wisdom and advice to go for it. It’s a great way to start the new year.
Here’s Brandy’s story, in her own words:
Four years ago, I retired and said, “Brandy, all your life you wanted to write, and now you have the time; go for it?” The only problem: where, when, how do I start? Sure, I wrote little things now and then over my lifetime, but I had no excellent English knowledge, didn’t get any A’s in grammar, really didn’t understand composition, but the passion for writing spoke loud and clear.
Life isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, but, I knew one thing: if you want something, you have to go for it and earn it. I also knew that writing is a skill, and I didn’t have it. I needed to get help. Where does a beginner begin? A long time ago, I learned if you want to be good at something, study it, take classes, hang around those who know, and learn, learn, learn. I found the SLO NightWriters, an excellent organization for writers being writers. Someone said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I took that first step.
Writing is a skill. Just like building a house, you need the skill to build, or the home will tumble. I discovered Susan’s class. Begin at the beginning, I thought. The classes introduced the techniques of the craft writers require and that I didn’t have: conflict, tension, subplots, style, voice, POV, etc. It became evident that if I were to become a writer, a good writer, I needed to know writing skills.
Her first class made me realize I had a lot to learn about my new and exciting goal. I studied, took classes, read books on writing, went to conferences, joined a critique group, talked to people, etc. Learning is not easy. Sometimes I wanted to quit. Winston Churchill said, “Anyone can quit.” Well, I am not anyone. I didn’t make it this far by being a quitter. Failure and more failures are just steps to get closer to any goal. Lucky for me I knew a lot about failure and knew that sometimes failing is helpful.
Susan encourages her students, even the very beginners like me. Little by little, I started to understand that the vocabulary of writing had meanings—the meanings had applications—the applications developed into skills I needed to write. Writing became exciting.
I am still learning and still am not a grammar expert and recommend an editor for your work. Most authors always thank their editors—I am ok with not being good at editing. However, there are my stories; there are my characters who want to come alive. It is my responsibility to give them the best life possible. So, I will keep learning my craft.
Now go and write and trust yourself. The journey is worth it.
Brandy, thank you so much for sharing the story of your journey into publication. Readers, make sure you check out her wonderful story, recently published in the Adelaide Literary Magazine. You’re gonna just love this little girl’s attitude!
[For more on Susan’s online writing classes, email her: firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Writing Class” in the subject line.]