Linda Seed, author: The Making of Linda (Or, How I Got Here in Only Thirty Short Years)

The Making of Linda (Or, How I Got Here in Only Thirty Short Years)

From the time I was little, I always wanted to be an author. So, naturally, I became a copy editor instead.

This might not sound like a natural progression, but it makes sense when you think about it. I grew up in a family that faced a lot of financial challenges, so I always believed that the object of working was to produce a steady paycheck that could reliably support me.

I remember thinking as early as high school that novelists didn’t make any money. Well, some of them did, but it wasn’t the kind of thing you could count on. So I considered how I might use my interest in writing to secure a steady job, with a steady income. Journalism seemed like the logical route.

The future author at age 1.
Ironically, it was my fear of
calling people on the phone
that ruined my budding
reporting career.
I wasn’t a copy editor at first. I started as a reporter. As I sold myself on this second-choice career path, I had visions of hunting down leads and breaking important stories. There was only one problem: I sucked at reporting. Not only was I too self-conscious to get in people’s faces and demand answers, I was too shy to call them on the phone in the first place.

After a short and unimpressive period as a reporter, I discovered that copy editors could sometimes go entire days without talking to anyone. Bingo! I had an excellent feel for detail as well as grammar and punctuation, so this was my niche.

I spent about thirteen years as a newspaper copy editor and then assistant news editor before it occurred to me that I hated the news business. I was working on stories I didn’t care about, giving up my weekends and holidays, toiling away in a job where no one even knows you exist unless you screw up.

Meanwhile, I was writing fiction.

The idea was that I would write a novel in my spare time, sell it, become successful, and eventually quit my newspaper job. I loved writing fiction so much that it made focusing on newspaper work even more difficult than before. I’d go through my workdays thinking about my characters, wanting to be with them again the next time I had a spare moment to write.

Then a lot of things happened. I got married. I had kids. I quit my job. And I suffered through a case of writer’s block that lasted twelve years.

I tried to write during those twelve years; I really did. I have two partial novels and a few short stories that simply never got off the ground. But I still longed to be part of the world of creating fiction. So I did the next best thing to writing: I began editing fiction.
Now, those of you who have read The Artist’s Way will be familiar with the concept of the shadow artist. That’s someone who longs to be an artist (of any type; novelists qualify) but who can’t quite make the leap. The shadow artist gravitates to careers that are almost the thing the person longs to be. Becoming a freelance fiction editor got me a seat next to the writers I admired, because that was so much easier than actually becoming one.

It was a change of genre that finally threw the switch for me. During all of those years when I was writing but not finishing anything, I was attempting to write literary fiction. I thought I had to produce something meaningful, something that would earn accolades and awards, something full of symbolism and ethereal beauty. At some point I realized that my work was too boring and pretentious even for me.

Finally, I decided to try an experiment: I would write the kind of novel I read for pure fun. I asked myself, what do I read when I want pure escapism? What do I read when I want to feel good? The answer was contemporary romance. Then, in a follow-up question to myself, I asked what would happen if I tried to write that.

Only one way to find out.

Moonstone Beach came pouring out of me as though it had always been there, waiting for me to notice it. The words flowed like they never had before. I fell in love with my characters. And I had fun. It was difficult for me to believe that this writing thing had ever been hard. It was like I’d come home.

It took more than thirty years between that moment in high school when I decided to go for the steady paycheck and the moment when I clicked on the Kindle Direct Publishing button and published Moonstone Beach. Some journeys are long, and sometimes it seems like you’ll never arrive at your destination. But here I am, finally feeling as though I’m being the person I’m supposed to be.

Here’s to all of us finding our way.