#1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr tells us how she followed her heart to become the beloved author she is today. Her latest titles include "Four Friends" and "The Chance."
I remember the day I bought a brand-new spiral notebook and some snazzy pens and I began to write a story. I was a young wife and mother living in a worn-out trailer in Alabama with my air force pilot husband. I had an eighteen-month-old son and was pregnant. A week later I thought, Who am I kidding? and tore out the pages before anyone saw them.
About a year later, I was living in a nice apartment in San Antonio. I got out the notebook again. I was at least going to try and if it was terrible, I didn’t have to tell anyone. When it was time for my husband to come home, I stored the notebook in my underwear drawer.
I hadn’t been trained to write. In fact, I hadn’t really been trained to read. I didn’t have an English or Literature education—I had attended nursing college. I hadn’t even been one of those studious, solitary kids with a nose in a book at all times. I’d started devouring fiction as my entertainment fairly recently, after college, and I was only twenty-five with what many would consider limited life experience. I read thrilling, romantic, adventurous novels—mostly historical romances—that cost me sleep and distracted me from housework. There was no evidence to suggest I could be an author at all, much less a successful one. In fact, this was probably the craziest fantasy I could have.
And yet I wrote. I imagined the story while I was falling asleep and wrote ferociously, so fast I could barely read it. I had to write mushy dialogue and decided I would use a pseudonym and never tell anyone.
I was unprepared for a few things. I didn’t realize I could be transported to a different place and time by visualizing it. People began to have whole conversations inside my head. I could be in the grocery store with two little kids in the cart and burst out laughing as a funny snippet of dialogue came to mind, or tears could gather in my eyes while dreaming up an emotional scene. I didn’t realize the truth, for years—I was hooked on the process. I began to live in the book. It gave me more than I gave it—daily writing owned me! I learned to do housework in ten minutes. I could fit ten pages into a naptime. And I longed to be published. Even though the fact that I was attempting it at all was insane, I lived for the moment the joy and struggle and emotion I felt during the writing could be shared with someone as they read.
I had to come out of the closet.
For a twenty-five-year-old girl, newly married and mothering babies, untrained in the arts to say to her young pilot husband, “Listen, I’m going to need a typewriter. I’ve written a book,” takes enormous courage and an unimaginable leap of faith. And then to say it again after he says, “You’ve written a what?” takes commitment I didn’t know I had.
There’s so much more to the story. From the friends who said, “Shouldn’t you start with a short story?” to the pros who promised not even one in a hundred will be a bestseller, it was easy to say only a crazy person would take this on. And yet, when I was very still and quiet I could hear my heart say, “You sure love those stories, don’t you, Robyn? Then write them. Don’t worry about anything else.”
So I did. I do. I will.
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