I've always been a story teller, and I love writing letters. A great part of any adventure for me is sharing it with families and friends. Perhaps it is why writing has been a great joy for me. I was never imaginative, but when my sister-in-law suggested I should write a book, and I got an idea for a story at age fifty-three, magic happened. The characters came alive, and I loved them. It was fun getting to know them and seeing what they would do next. The experience was more of a revelation than an act of creativity. Once I got started I couldn't stop.
Two ideas were a great help to me. Write what you know, and write the first draft with your heart, not your head. In other words, use your life experiences, and get the story down on paper. Fix it later. I used my experiences with God, the Bible, young people, the beach, the surf, and all of nature to write my books.
When I started, I had story but very few writing skills. I hadn't taken any creative writing classes. My savior was my niece, Colleen, who'd just finished college. Her first encouraging words after reading my first two stories were "The good news is you should keep working on these. The bad news is you should keep working on these." She proceeded to edit the text severely. She taught me how to develope a character and make them real, and to stay away from narratives. She kept repeating "show don't tell."
More recently, my mentors have been my writing/critique group consisting of professional editors, published writers, and a young girl in my target audience. For a thin-skinned person this would be a tough gig, but I celebrate red ink. The big issues were avoiding the passive tense, and being consistent with the point of view. Now, after thirteen years and six books later, I've got the hang of it. I don't always agree with their ideas, but the edits have been my salvation. We are a team of writers. The stories are mine, the finished products are ours. Yay group.