Voirey Linger

Becoming a Writer – Voirey Linger

A5Ld89sCMAEbMZYVoirey Linger

My road to authordom isn’t particularly dramatic. It’s probably not even unusual. I was a girl who loved books that grew into a woman who loves books, and while that’s the beginning and end, it’s not the whole story.

I started reading at a very young age. According to my mother, I was three years old when I started really reading words on the page. By the time I hit kindergarten, I was a fluent reader and starting to decipher cursive on my own… which threw her for a loop because I worked it out by reading the Christmas gift shopping list and telling my sister everything we were getting from Santa that year. Oops?

But a funny thing happened when I went to kindergarten and had to go back to basics with my peers, something that would become a theme in my writing. I was told I couldn’t do this thing called reading and that I needed to listen to the teacher. To be fair, the teacher never sat me down and told me I wasn’t able to read or that I wasn’t smart enough. Nothing as blatant as that. Instead it was a subtle guidance designed to make me fit the mold of the rest of the classroom. Forget that I was reading cursive. I needed to sit and learn my ABCs with everyone else. Sit down and do the lessons like a good girl. In a few months, I went from being a competent reader to being unsure I was capable.

This is the first setback I can remember in what became a lifetime of self-doubt and listening to others instead of myself.

Fast forward two years. I moved to a school that placed a big emphasis on reading and language. Once a year, the school would bring in a children’s book author to speak to us. It was the first time I associated a real human being with all those wonderful books on the shelves and the first time it occurred to me that I could be one of those humans. I remember walking back to the classroom that day and telling my teacher I wanted to be one of the people who makes books. She glanced down and me and said, “You’d have to be smart enough to have a story to write, first.”

My newfound dream popped like a balloon.

Fast forward again, this time to a teenage me. That idea of being an author had been at the back of my head, refusing to die. At age fourteen I had a surge of confidence. I could do this, couldn’t I? That year, I asked for a typewriter and desk for Christmas. I didn’t tell my parents why I wanted them, just that I did. I spent four months struggling to come up with a story. A romance, of course, and fitting with the popular stories of the time, it was a Victorian-era western. When I finally worked up the courage to admit to my parents I was writing a book, my father told me to stop wasting time with that and spend more time on homework. Mom told me writing was a nice hobby but when I was an adult, I’d need a real job.

My book went in a drawer and I didn’t look at it again.

Another fast-forward. Now I’m a twenty-four year-old wife and stay-at-home mother. The writing bug hit again and I looked to the internet for guidance. I found writers’ groups on Yahoo! and started a story that involved a bank robbery and explosions. My husband thought it was cute until he realized I was writing when he was home. Why was I sitting at the computer instead of watching boxing or a Clint Eastwood marathon with him? The “that’s nice” pats on the head turned into, “Why are you wasting time with that crap?” One day I heard him on the phone with a friend, reading part of my story and making fun of my “porn for women.”

I deleted the file that same day.

Twelve years later I was divorced. My favorite way to get to sleep at night was making up stories in my head. I hadn’t written down a single word of any of the stories, because the idea I could actually write was pretty stupid. Everybody said so. Except I had this one idea that wouldn’t go away. It just kept getting bigger and bigger, the character more and more real. I knew it was a real book, all mapped out in my head. And guess what, my parents and ex weren’t around to tell me I was stupid for even thinking I was good enough.

So I started writing. And it was a mess. but through that mess, I had a sound storyline and a character I just couldn’t get enough of. I went back to the internet and rejoined some of those writing groups. I soaked up what information I could on writing and publishing, then one day I was asked about my book. I shared a bit about my hero, who I admitted was a bit of a jerk. Was I going to fix that and redeem him? No, as a matter of fact, I wasn’t. being a jerk wasn’t a problem that needed fixed, it was just part of his personality. the Established Queen Author of the group told me I was stupid and needed to quit writing, because I obviously didn’t know what I was doing.

If you’ve been paying attention, this is where insecure Voirey was supposed to fold up like a card table and hide under a rock. Except I’d just gone through a nasty divorce and wasn’t putting up with any crap from anyone.

I got mad and wrote. I was churning out about 3K every night after the kids went to bed. I found someone to read what I had and tell me what I needed to fix. I found out about Nano and rocked that muther every night.

I wrote, and it was a glorious mess.

I wrote more. I wrote different things. I wrote all those bedtime stories I’d told myself over the years. Until, finally, I wrote a book I was ready to publish. I buckled down and prepared for the rounds of sub-and-R it took to get published. Instead, I was offered a contract on my second submission.

After a lifetime of hearing the message that I wasn’t good enough, someone told me I was.

I’m not going to pretend I haven’t had some setbacks since then. Self-doubt, unfortunately, doesn’t just go away. But it’s different now. Because someone told me I’m good. Because readers have enjoyed the books and taken time to leave reviews. I can know I’m good, even when I feel like a failure, and if I say it enough, I can start to believe it.

Condensing a lifetime of setbacks in one blog post makes it sound pretty extreme, but like I said, my story isn’t unusual. We all have someone somewhere who holds us back. Sometimes it’s a genuine concern for our well being highlighting obstacles. Sometimes it’s their insecurities giving voice to our own. Other times it’s their frustrated ambition looking for a foothold to get just one more step ahead. They are always around us, whispering words that can take root and grow self-doubt.

I’m insecure and sometimes the biggest opponent my writing has is the echo of words in my head, telling me I can’t do it. Ignoring that voice is a frequent battle. Sometimes i fight it daily. Sometimes it only rears up its ugly head when provoked.

But i do ignore it. I tell it to shut up, and I write. Because my head is full of stories, and I’m good enough to tell them.

One thought on “Becoming a Writer – Voirey Linger

  1. Yeah, for you, Voirey! I think the insecurities of others is just jealousy on their part. They wish they had the cojones to not listen to others and just forge ahead with their dreams. The unfortunate part is some of us do care what others think about us and we’re afraid to show them who we really are. I’ve been a struggling writer for most of my life and I’ll keep on that path until I do get it right. We need to keep our eye on our goals and not the goal others seek for us.

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