As a child I recall my career goals included a rock band and a sculpture studio. I’d play guitars or drums on stage and create beautiful statuary in the privacy of my home.

The reality is that I can’t sing for @#%! and never got beyond the first guitar lessons. My parents wisely steered me away from the violin (“Quit killing the cat and go outside to play!”) and refused to allow my grandfather to purchase a set of drums for me.

(Huh… That could be why I lived through my childhood.)

As for the sculpture angle, my spectacular second-grade cat fell on its face before it had a chance to harden. It resembled more a pekinese than a work of art and my artistic dreams were crushed.

(Well, that and I was much more interested in playing Star Trek with my friends, Martha Anderson and Denise Stephenson.)

As a teenager, I got it into my head to write science fiction for a living.

After a transient childhood however, I had very thin skin. My psyche would have been destroyed by the critiques and edits, the corrections becoming malicious poison-tipped arrows regardless of the editor’s well-meaning attempts to help make a better novel.

I know this because even now edits still hurt despite eighteen years of writing and publishing books. I have much more wisdom and experience these days. I’m able to rationalize and negate the initial pangs. That was an impossibility at eighteen.

Instead I became an artist for a time.

Not clay! I drew. I painted. I eventually airbrushed. I love the visual media.

(I still see random lines in sidewalks or shadows on walls and can see the faint facial expressions to be teased from them.)

Man, I miss drawing.

For various reasons that I’ve posted in the past, my artist life went by the wayside. Space, time, rheumatoid arthritis. You know the sitch.

Still, I’d always been drawn to words, to writing, to fiction. But I couldn’t do that. That required a writing education, college classes, an ability to complete short stories.

Most of the writers I’d followed had done things the “traditional” way — multiple short stories in various magazines until the inevitable discovery by a major publishing house. Then they put out novels and gained literary success.

Short stories ain’t that easy for me. When I find characters to write about, there’s always so much more than the immediate scene involved. I have difficulty focusing on one or two scenes when that’s all that’s going to be written.

(Take this blog post for instance. I’m supposed to be writing a short story for my Patreon page, but I can’t settle on a set of characters or a situation to write about. Hence, I’m distracting myself with the easier task of updating mailing lists and blog posts.)

Therefore becoming a novelist was out.

Right?

Again, if you know my backstory then you know I climbed the publication ladder via fan fiction rather than short stories. I spent a few years throwing together stories and posting them online for free before I was offered an opportunity to publish one of them. One became two, two became four and here I am today with ten books, three out of print, one coming soon and another currently on contract.

I guess this post boils down to two things:

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You don’t need a license to write.

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You don’t need to follow a particular path to achieve the publication of your first book. Or short story. Or article.

The internet has become so much more than a time-suck (providing you apply some discipline to your days.)

There are hundreds of people out there writing books, stories and articles. Many make good money from it.

I didn’t go to college to learn fiction writing (though I admit to an initial Creative Writing class.)

Everything I’ve learned about the career has been online. Readers can be quite vocal when they like or dislike a tale!

Once I got the rudimentary skills down, my editors and publishers taught me the rest.

Eighteen years later, I’m still learning new things! Each novel becomes progressively better in the initial draft, leaving me more time to write fresh content and less time in the editing phase.

And this applies to more than just writing.

If you want to…

DO IT! Join an online community and put pen to paper or words to screen, whatever works.

DO IT! Invest in video and sound equipment, sign up for a YouTube account and get cracking! There are a number of hot artists that have made their name on YouTube long before they achieved general popularity.

DO IT! As far as drawing and painting go, check out DeviantArt for community or challenges to keep you learning new things.

You don’t need a license or a degree to write. Or to play music. Or to draw and paint. You only need to take that first step, take action.

Let’s face it, if wishes were fishes, the world would surely stink!

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