I was talking to an old college friend tonight that I had lost touch with over the years with our many moves, and he asked me a question that I hadn't really thought of before.
How did I become an author?
The answer I thought was very a simple. By writing and publishing a book, but the answer I gave him was much more complicated than that. As a child, I had a wild imagination. I had to have one being the youngest child of my generation by eight years. While my brother and cousins were off in high school, I was learning to play alone. I was making up stories in my head and devouring every single Disney movie I could get my hand on.
By the time I reached kindergarten, I had to face an entirely different kind of change. The educational piece I had down pat from the first day, but the social aspect was something I had never experienced. It took a bit to warm up to the other kids, but when I made my first friend who loved to play pretend with me, I had it made. She was someone I could share my crazy ideas with and in hindsight, she was my very first reader. A notion I had never considered before. I was an author before I even realized it, but first, I had to learn to be a reader.
It was Harry Potter that opened up the reader world to me. From "spending the night" at my friend Faith's house as a guise to us going to the midnight release of the newest book in the series (Sorry, Mom) and promising each other not to start it until the morning (Lies!), I had found my home in reading. Even in college, I found myself using a release I had been dying to get my hands on as an incentive to study for my finals.
But how did that love of reading translate into my love of writing? Simple. It just happened.
Yes, you read that right. It just happened. Losing my dad in 2015 was the single most heartbreaking moment of my life. I was close to my dad, and when he left this Earth, I was at a breaking point. I couldn't save him. None of us could. His loss left me broken until I drove to work my first day back after bereavement leave. It was on the trip that a story popped into my head. A story that was my way of coping with his loss. That story was my first book entitled Damaged. The second I started working on it, all the mournful sorry went into the words on its pages. Writing became my therapy. My way of shutting out the world and sharing the stories that had been swirling in my head since childhood. And it's been that way ever since.
So if you started reading this for a step by step guide on how to publish your first story, I'm sorry that this isn't what you are looking for, but I can suggest to a lot of different resources that can help you if that's what you'd like. For me, there wasn't a guide to becoming an author because I had always been one. It had been inside of me for my entire life, and when I the choice to tap that creative energy inside me, I acknowledged what had been inside me all along. A storyteller. A wild imagination. The real me. Will it work that way for you? Maybe. Maybe not, but the first step is taking that leap and writing the magical words. Take the leap and start with chapter one.
Avelyn Paige is an Wall Street Journal and USA TODAY bestselling Motorcycle Romance author.