The year was 1994. I was twelve, and I'd been devouring David Edding's The Belgariad series, and watching Far and Away over and over until I wore out the VHS tape. My head was full of high fantasy and historic love sagas spanning the globe (and people with accents, we can't forget the importance of accents!). Also, there was Nicole Kidman's fabulous hair in that movie. It quite captivated me. *why, oh why was my hair so entirely boring and straight?!*
And for some reason, I've no idea what put it in my head, I started writing a novel on my computer, though I certainly didn't think of it as writing. But we had this new computer (a Mac Classic!) and I spent time on there, and there were these text documents you could open and so I started typing. A high fantasy novel about a rebellious young girl with amazing hair, naturally ;)
It wasn't until I printed out a bit of it and took it to my fourth grade teacher that I realized being a writer could be a person's job, when she said out loud the unimaginable thing: she said I should be a writer, a published writer. I guess that's what astonished me was she thought I actually could get published. That I could write something that people might buy in bookstores. Bookstores were holy shrines to me, where I went eagerly every week to blow my allowance money! And she thought I could be one of the people that wrote those books!
So at twelve, I finally had an answer to that question grown-ups were so fond of asking: what do you want to be when you grow up? A writer. I wanted to be a writer.
And then I became a teenager, and everything went screwy for a few years and I thought I'd be a musician (a flautist to be specific), and then I thought for awhile I'd be a missionary (check out my Dear Teen Me post for more on this one!), and then for awhile in my twenties I thought I'd be nothing at all because I wasn't special or imaginative or good at anything really, and that was what being a grown-up was about realizing.
But then I started writing again about five years ago anyway. I don't know how long it was before I admitted it, even to myself: I wanted to be a writer. I certainly didn't say it out loud to anyone else! I went back to grad school because Plan A of being a writer was far too ridiculous, so I would studiously pursue Plan B like a good little grown up. But all the while, in my spare time, I kept writing. This year the ridiculous dream came true, I got a book deal with St. Martin's Press.
I still feel funny saying out loud. I just moved to a new place, and the first thing strangers ask each other is, "So what do you do for a living?" And I say, half-awkwardly, "Um, I'm a writer." I feel like I should follow up this statement by saying, "No, for real! For real for real, like, I have a book coming out next year!!!" Fear not, I don't say that out loud ;) After all, I know it sounds silly and impossible, but it is beginning to finally sink in. I'm a writer.
The dedication page in my novel is to my 4th grade teacher.
Heather Anastasiu is the author of GLITCH (St. Martin's Press/Summer 2012) Glitch in three words: Dystopia, Superpowers, & Love :) Check out my website for more news and updates.