Most people know Shannon the wife, friend, mother, daughter, sister, family member etc., but only a few know me as I know myself.
A writer is who I am.
Other than time I spend with my loved ones, with obligations, or with distractions, writing is what consumes me. It isn’t easy. It is lonely work, but work that I love and regardless of success or failure, it is an avocation I will not give up. Writing is what I was meant to do. Even if only my journal, even if the characters and their stories live only in my head, I will forever be a storyteller.
So with this kind of passion and conviction I had to have always known I wanted to be a writer?
Not a clue. I spent the first 28 years of my life, searching for my purpose but remaining oblivious to the possibility that one of my greatest joys in life, should have been my first stop for a career choice. I went to university; I got a job. I had ideas at various times in my life, of what I thought I wanted to do, but I truly never imagined being a writer. Once I made the realization, I felt like a fool. What should have been as obvious as the nose on my face was never a consideration. But it should have been. Looking back the signs were there. Now it is easy to travel back through time and my life and see what I was missing all along.
So before I tell you about my novel and about the process of getting published I thought I’d take some time to reflect and explain how I got to be here.
The seeds were always there.
Don’t tell my husband, but one of the greatest love affairs of my life has been with books. I took to reading like I have taken to nothing else except writing. My parents bought our family an encyclopedia set when I was very young, in kindergarten, and within a very short period I devoured the entire children’s section of it. I have always read voraciously. Library was my favourite part of school and it was a great source of pride when I was allowed to read books four and five grades a head of my own. By the time I was in high school I could devour a standard paper back novel in an afternoon. It was nothing for me to read five books a week. As a child, teenager, and young woman, one of my greatest laments, was not having enough to read. And I loved to possess books, to own them and collect them. I loved the stories and I loved the learning. Books shaped much of who I am. To this day if I want to know something I automatically look for a book on the topic.
Writing, was also present in my life, but not as obvious as my love of reading. In grade one I won a school wide competition based on the speech I wrote entitled “My Best Friend” (it was an ode to my Dad). So I did show promise early on with writing skills but I was not prone to fits of excessive story writing. Language Arts was always my best subject but I was a good student in general, because I was eager to please and such a good reader with an excellent memory.
My other clue should have been my imagination. I had a vivid imagination in childhood. I remember planning intricate stories and events for my Barbie’s, and stuffies. And I can distinctly recall now how the storytelling in my head, the intricate laying of a foundation for the scene I was creating, wasn’t as rich or as fulfilling in the process of it acting out. Even to this day, I coax myself to sleep with elaborate storylines and ideas, some of which lead to insomnia and frenzied middle-of-the-night writing bouts.
But writing was never pervasive. I did not keep a meticulous journal growing up but once in a while I would write, as I did all things in my life, with great passion, and in spurts, but with no real consistency or discipline, with the exception of my first book.
I was twelve or thirteen and it was a horrible story I co-wrote with a cousin. I was one of the main characters, and in this story my cousins and I, met Duran Duran, one of our favourite bands at the time. Of course we hooked up with our favourite band members and lived happily ever after. As horrible as the story was, looking back at that event I should have had a clue. What 12 or 13 year-old has the attention span to write a complete book, long after their co-authors abandon the project. I continued on and finished the story to its natural end, with me getting bassist John Taylor to worship me as much as I worshipped him. I can see now that even then I loved to tell a story, and even more importantly, I loved to tell a story about love.
So I must be a romance writer?
I wish my creativity was so easily pigeon holed into an easily categorized genre. “Seascape” is a love story but my second book is not. Love relationships are pivotal components to the storyline but it will not be a romance book in the traditional sense. Be prepared now, my books will fall not into a dependable reliable style. My subject matter and genre will change. However I feel strongly that romantic love and love relationships of all types will continue to figure strongly within my writing.
Let’s face it, next to air, food, water, and shelter, sex and companionship rank pretty high up there on the list of human needs and wants. For most of humankind, regardless of outward appearances, sex, love, and connection are exceptionally important. I would be a liar if I did not admit they consume my focus and writers tend to write about what is important to them.
I will always write about love because, I will admit it, I am a romantic. You will not find a bigger sap. I am horribly sentimental. My ideal evening is watching or reading an EPIC love story. Passion. Tragedy. Sex. Love. Romance. Mushy. Coarse. Raw. Real. Sentimental. Roll it all together, make me cry, make me feel, and you will make me happy. Some of my favourite moments on this earth were spent watching or reading about love. Jane Austen novels, Baby and Johnny in “Dirty Dancing”, and OMG! “Titanic”!!!!!! Even “Brokeback Mountain” was a great and epic love story. Favorite movie of all time: “P.S. I Love You”.
Connection means everything to me. I own it. It is a fundamental part of who I am. I am sentimental, sappy, and a romantic. I love happy endings but I get swept away just as much by a delicious tragedy. I’ll cry and weep. I’ll keen and moan. And I will buy and read it or watch it over and over again.
Therefore it should have been no surprise that a love story is what sparked me onto my career. After university I fell into the human services field, eventually becoming a school counsellor, but my natural tendencies were not ideally suited for this position. I had a knack with people, but I was too empathetic. I got caught up in people’s stories. After my work day was done, I was still consumed with my clients problems, sometimes even long after they weren’t.
In addition to being empathetic I am a quester for truth and justice. But I get so caught up in fairness and consideration it is hard to be objective, hard to know what is right and wrong, to choose a side, to know the truth. Having a natural understanding for every perspective makes for a great writer but a crappy counsellor. Eventually I had to get out of the human services field and luckily for me, my husband began a new job. I went from being the major bread winner, to him, making double our previous salaries. We decided I would stay home for a bit.
After the first six months everyone started wondering when I was going to go back to work. I had one child at home, but as a ten year-old and she was hardly in need of my constant attention especially when she was in school. But I was not mentally prepared to get into another job, so six months turned into a year turned into two years. Through that time I watched the newspapers for human services job I felt strong enough to do, all the while hoping and wishing for something that would give to me and not take from me. I wanted the career I was meant for.
Then one evening I rented the movie “The Wedding Planner”. The romantic comedy was staring my favourite leading man, Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Lopez. I was pumped. For those of you not caught up in the pursuit of the epic love story quest, you won’t understand my considerable angst. But if you love romance and love stories like I do, you will realize good ones, truly excellent ones, are few and far between. But with Matthew as the star I had high hopes.
This movie sucked. I mean the acting was okay. Honestly each of them did well with what they had to work with, but the plot, the writing, the screenplay, it all sucked! I was violated. I was mad. Here I was ready to fall in love with a story and I was denied. Let me be clear. I am not hard to please in this department. I was incensed. And in that moment I thought to myself:
I can do better.
It was twelve years ago and I remember that feeling distinctly. I knew I could legitimately, do better. I had read thousands of books in my life time. My papers and essays at university always did well. I could write what I wanted to read, to watch. I could write a better love story. With this belief firmly in my pocket, I began writing. And a mere twelve years later I am finally ready to publish the story I was determined would be better than “The Wedding Planner”. And when “Seascape” comes out you can decide if I succeeded.