Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Thousand Words

I don't think I can remember a time when I didn't want to be a writer. I started with poetry. I think one of my first poems was called Willy the Worm. And of course it rhymed. They always rhymed. The day I discovered alliteration I wrote a short story about a girl named Wendy who woke up early wondering why...
I never finished it.
If you asked me when I was younger what I wanted to be when I grew up it was either an actress or a writer. "More than likely a writer," I would say. At the time I was living in California where everyone wanted to be an actress. It was in the water.

But the day I realized I wanted to tell stories was the day I saw Steve McCurry's The Young Afghan Girl on the cover of a National Geographic photo book. I remember I was walking through the bookstore, waiting for my mom to finish browsing, and there it was just staring at me. Her eyes told a thousand stories and I wanted to hear them.

People have always fascinated me. I'm the one who will pretend not to be watching you if you catch me staring in the airport. I know it sounds creepy. But it's true. I'm a curious person. So it made perfect sense for me to drop out of college and head off to photography school to become a photojournalist.
I'd made a decision. I wanted to be Steve McCurry. It took meeting Steve McCurry himself to make me realize that 1. there already is one and 2. his job is entirely too scary.
Photography school made sense but taking my camera off to war-ridden countries and impoverished nations didn't. I'm not that brave.

So instead I settled on wedding photography. It was a good trade off. I was still able to tell stories, but without the violence. Well, sometimes. Y'all have seen Bridezillas, right?


It wasn't until my father passed away that I realized I needed to get back to writing.

And I love it.

Even after three weeks of tackling the most intense edits I've ever experienced where I didn't leave my house and I barely ate and spent entirely too much time in my pajamas because I HAD TO MEET MY DEADLINE, I still love it.

Shari Arnold is the author of MYSTIQUE coming Fall 2012 from Chronicle Books. Check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.


  1. That is seriously awesome Shari! It's so neat to see where people got the writing bug from and the circles we all went through to get back to it. I think it is so neat that you wanted to be a photojournalist, and I can see why you wanted to. That picture DOES say a thousand words. Wow.

  2. I still remember where I was the day I saw that Steve McCurry shot.

    Awesome story, Shari :)