It seems like it was yesterday that I received my first lock and key diary and I started my regular writing practice. I believe I was 12 years old and received it from my maternal grandparents. What I liked most about it was the lock. Prying eyes couldn’t read my secret writing.
I started jotting down my thoughts and feeling in that little book and soon realized how cathartic it was. Okay, I didn’t know that word back then, but I knew the feeling it gave me to get my heart out onto the page. Even at that young age, my brain had a difficult time turning off, and I used writing as a way to alleviate the stress and anxiety of my young life.
I had started writing long before that magical diary came into my life. My first recollection of penning a story was when I was about five or six. I wrote a story about my puppy. Not only did I write the story, but I also added illustrations to every page. I created a little book by taking two thin pieces of cardboard, punching holes through the edge and tying it up with a red hair ribbon. Somehow it made its way into my mom’s cedar chest, and I found it as an adult.
When I found it my mom was with me and she quickly recalled my writing life, even at an earlier age. We were on a family road trip. The one we took when my biological dad found out he had terminal cancer. We hit the road, and my mom homeschooled two of my older siblings who joined us. Whenever we hit a museum or something of historical significance my sisters would have some sort of an assignment, usually writing an essay or paper. I would tag along with my little notebook and pencil, and even though I couldn’t write a word, I would stand in front of a display, looking at the description of ancient artifacts and then duck my head down to the page, scribbling as if I had something important to say. I have a photo of me doing this somewhere (I should find it and add it to this post – someday).
My writing bloomed from that point forward, and I have dabbled in all sorts of writing. From love poems in high school, copywriting for the family business and my own freelancing, short stories and stage plays in college, grant writing for nonprofits, ghostwriting for coaches, to screenplays in Hollywood. I’ve done it all, and I’ve loved it all.
In fact, things really took off for me when I got the best graduation gift from my parents – a Brother portable electric typewriter. I was in heaven. I was already using a computer at the family business (an Apple Lisa II) but having my own typewriter that I could take with me, wherever I traveled, was inspiring. I don’t know what happened to that typewriter, but I do know it was the launching pad to using all kinds of writing instruments throughout the years. Now I write on a 2017 iMac with a ginormous monitor, and I collect vintage typewriters (I have four ranging from the late 1800s to the 1960s).
You know, they say that great writers need to have been great readers. I couldn’t agree more so you can imagine how surprised I am at my writing ability because as a child, I hated to read. Or rather, I hated reading what I was told to read in school. There were two reasons for this loathing: 1) I was/am an extremely slow reader. By the time the paper was due, or the exam was in front of me I had barely read half the assignment. It always made me feel like I wasn’t smart enough (even though I have an IQ to prove otherwise); 2) I couldn’t stand being told what to read, or why my interpretation of the reading was wrong. My time in high school is when I started debating ideas with teachers, and it stuck. Today I am known for having some pretty intense debates about a lot of things, all in a friendly way to increase my perspective and awareness of life around me.
Today, however, I read every single day, for many hours. My husband says I read to much. I think he’s crazy. At various times in my life, I have had enough books in my home to start a small library. Books are like candy for me. The craving intensifies the more I read. And I do have to admit that reading has improved my writing along with my analytical skills.
In 2014, I had to make a tough decision. Move to Texas with the company where I was employed for almost 22 years, or head out on my own as a full-time writer and entrepreneur. It was scary and exciting at the same time (the feeling of both emotions is the same in the body). My entire life I had identified as being “a writer” but most knew me as the HR professional in Corporate America. As I stood in the large conference room with the other employees, listening to the reasons for the move, I heard myself whisper, “Yes, I can finally be a full-time writer.” It was the sign my mom and I talked about the week before she died. I knew it was time.
In support of the transition of my work within the company, I stayed in my job until January 2017, at which time my tenure as a part-time writer and entrepreneur turned into full-time.
Has it been tough? Definitely. It takes a whole other mindset and attitude to create a business and life that uses your passions and generates income. Do I regret it? Hell no. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Life is too short not to follow your dreams, and I’ve wanted to be a full-time writer and entrepreneur forever. At 50 years old, now is my time.
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Corrie Ann Gray is a visionary writer, strategist, philosopher, and a damn good cookie creator. She is also known as The Renaissance Soul Writer and is the founder and director of the Clean Body Project, where she inspires individuals to live a holistically purpose-filled life.