How I Became a Writer: Confessions of a Fraud

(Originally published Nov. 15, 2006).

Whenever someone asks me what I do for a living and I reply that I’m a fiction writer (woo-hoo, I still can’t get used to those words), the person invariably asks me if I have always wanted to write. I usually consider lying. After all, it would be more exotic to portray myself as a thwarted genius, a driven individual scribbling pearls of wisdom on small scraps of paper all my life, forced by fate into the nether world of management consulting. In the end, I always blurt out the truth. “No way. Nuh-uh. Not in this lifetime,” I say, shaking my head. “Writing was the last thing that crossed my mind until three years ago.”

It’s like this. When I was in grade seven, I stood up in front of my long-suffering classmates, heart hammering in my skinny chest, and droned out my first public speaking assignment—a memorized essay I had compiled about dinosaurs. I covered the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous waterfronts. At least ten of my classmates dozed off and one appeared to fall into a full-fledged coma, alarming Mr. Hughes, my teacher. Indeed, my performance was so pitiful, he must have felt sorry for me, because he gave me another chance. “You have until Monday morning to redeem yourself, young lady,” he intoned.

That gave me exactly three days to pull together a brilliant speech.

Being a staunch advocate of pain avoidance and a coward to boot, I turned the problem over to my mother, knowing full well she would jump to my rescue. She rose to the occasion and spent the weekend writing a delightfully funny story entitled, “On Housebreaking a Puppy.” On Monday at 10:00 a.m., I delivered a brilliant essay that knocked the socks off my delighted classmates and a relieved Mr. Hughes. Nobody fell asleep this time. My classmates thought I had developed a sense of humor over the weekend, and my mother and I received an ‘A’ for our efforts. After that, I figured, why mess with success? My mother wrote another couple of polished pieces brimming with adult humour to round out my primary school writing career in style, and I sailed into high school with high marks and low self esteem. Feeling like a total fraud, I made no attempt to write another creative word outside of essays and technical reports for several decades.

Fast forward many years. Over time, I grew tired of wearing little business suits, struggling with panty hose, and fighting rush hour traffic. I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I was certain of one thing—it wasn’t a consultant. One sunny day in June 2003, a good friend and primo energy healer called up our spiritual guides, guardians, and gatekeepers to channel an unforgettable session during which I made a life-changing decision. I walked out of her house knowing that I wanted to write books. Not dry, boring, technical treatises, but fresh, funny romantic suspense novels.

The rest, as they say, is history. I sold my first book, THE JAGUAR LEGACY, to Lachesis publishing in August, 2006 and it will be available in the spring of 2007.