Was there ever a moment when you knew this is what you wanted? When you realized "I want to be a writer"?
I don't mean in a vague sense, the idea that it seems cool, that it would be neat to write books like the ones you read... but rather something specific, something connected with the actual writing, the act of storytelling.
For me it came with a story I wrote when I was a kid. Eleven years old? Something like that. Just a kid. But I was already obsessed by books and stories, already experimenting with the idea of writing. I'd written a few other things, of course. A few for school, a few on my own, mostly beginnings to fantasy novels with lots of action, fantasy novels that usually fizzled out after a few chapters. I enjoyed it, certainly, and probably liked the idea of writing, of being "a writer". But it was an amorphous sort of feeling, half-formed, untethered to real experience. It was more wish and dream than real idea or goal.
Yet this new story was different. It was written for school, but I liked writing stories for school. It was a vampire story, of course. So ahead of my time! Funnily enough, it might even fit in now in this age of Twilight. It was a little bit Lost Boys, really, a group of adolescent friends (and one older, teen brother) who discover that vampires are operating in their town and decide to hunt them down. They find the vampires lair, and one afternoon they sneak in and kill all the vampires in a big showdown even as night descends. The boys leave, tired but jubilant with success. All but the older brother. He lingers behind. As night falls he begins to laugh and laugh, and as the full moon slips from behind a cloud the brother transforms into a werewolf and howls...
So much for the competition, right?
That's the story. And there was something about it. For one thing, it was fairly long (40 pages or so?) and complete. That completeness was important, not just in the sense of having reached an end, but in the sense that the story was complete. It was a real story. A beginning with a hook, characters who had to overcome obstacles, rising action, climax, denouement... and that denouement was important. The twist ending! Perhaps, um, not the most remarkable thing to me now, but to my eleven year old self it seemed big. I'd done something, felt like I'd made the imaginary reader think or feel soemthing, evenif only a sense of surprise. But something. A payoff, a realization, something to take away from the story besides the simple pleasure of the action itself.
I'm not sure much of anyone even read the story, really. My family? My teacher, certainly. But there was a sense of the story as an abstract entity, a platonic ideal, that would create a certain effect for an abstract and hopefully platonic reader. I had a sense of having successfully created an effect, of being in control of words and sentences. A sense of shaping something, rather than being shaped by something. The success was a conscious one, rather than the somewhat accidental nature of earlier achievements.
I don't think the pleasure from having written that story has ever completely worn off. It was something concrete. It was the reality of a writer rather than a dream. I still have that feeling, I think, when I finish a story. That sense of completeness, of creation and control. From that moment on I knew I wanted to be a writer.
What about you?