I’ve always defined myself as a writer. In fact, when someone asks me how long I’ve been writing, I never know exactly what to say. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I distinctly remember standing at the desk of my kindergarten teacher and reciting “The Wonderful Easter Egg” and “My New Baby Brother” to Mrs. Rubino as she patiently transcribed my words next to some drawings I did in crayon — right before we bound the book in white yarn to be shown at the Huntington Beach mall. My image of myself as a writer continued into first grade, when Mrs. Booth solidified my career path. She tagged me with “Laurie, Laurie, tell me a story,” and — even though I hadn’t lost my top teeth yet – I suddenly had a purpose in life.
My first actual paycheck for writing came when I was fifteen. I stood in the entryway of my home, gazing at an envelope that had just arrived from Seventeen magazine. They had bought my poem. And the paycheck was for fifty bucks. But the money wasn’t even important to me at the time. What was important was the thrill – and the validation – that I saw in that envelope: I was, actually, a writer.
Since then, I’ve nurtured a long career with words. I started out as a tech editor for an aerospace company, where I had a secret clearance and walked through multiple doors like “Get Smart.” From there, I took on various writing jobs and never stopped. I wrote calendars for NASA. I wrote a video script about astronauts. I wrote about speakers coming to visit the company, and I ghostwrote letters for the company president. I moved on to a newspaper job at The Orange County Register, which I had always dreamed of, and wrote restaurant reviews, advertorials about interior decorators, car stories, wedding stories, stories about Santa Claus, and features about Orange County history. I went to fashion shows, haunted houses, the Long Beach Grand Prix, Solvang, and visited the secret location (somewhere in the hills of Southern California – I’m still not sure where they were driving me) where the Batmobile was being built.
And, through it all, it always came back to storytelling. Whether I’m writing about ergonomic chairs or Wyland’s “whale walls,” it’s always storytelling to me. If you reach into the heart of a story – deep down, to the person who is feeling or experiencing or doing – that universal experience is always going to resonate with people.
During all this storytelling, however, I was growing my own little cast of characters, and I eventually left my newspaper job to be a stay-at-home mom to my three kids. But that didn’t stop me from writing. I was smitten. I kept freelancing (often writing articles at the playground, or dragging my kids along to review a local park or bakery – they loved being mini-reporters). And somewhere along the line, I decided to go back to writing fiction, too. Storytelling at its purest. Being an English major, I of course had the Great American Novel in my underwear drawer. But I decided this time I’d write romance novels. Why romance novels specifically? I tell that decision here.
I’m now four years into my new romance-writing career and playing amateur matchmaker for a bunch of characters. I’m determined to get published soon. I’ve loved getting to know so many wonderful writers through classes and RWA and Twitter. I’ve taken numerous writing classes from cool people like Susan Mallery and Judy Duarte. I’ve met a great group of critique partners and brainstorming partners, and have loved meeting new writers through the blogosphere. Meanwhile, I write, edit, tweet and handle social media for a women’s health and wellness site, Lifescript.com. I also blog for Lifescript at Health Bistro, and blog with a group of fiction writers at popculturedivas. And, of course, keep my own blog here about writing … or my kids … or about my own hero, Superman … or his choice to wear the-over-40-crowd black socks… or whatever crazy thing moves me that day.
So come along with me – and join in my random conversations about being a mom, a wife and a writer.
Because storytelling is all around us. And I love to hear stories as much as I like to write them.