NYT Best-Selling Author Susan Wiggs Shares Her Writing Journey With Women’s Fiction Writers

My Writing Journey

by Susan Wiggs

Although I’ve been a published writer for 25 years, I’ve been a WRITER for twice as long. Storytelling is somehow embedded in my DNA, and I’ve got the evidence to back it up. My very earliest writings were preserved by a doting grandmother, and survive to this day. I was just three years old when I learned to make recognizable marks on paper and call it writing. Something else I used to do, perhaps channeling writers who dictated their stories to secretaries, like Barbara Cartland and Sidney Shelton, was dictate stories to my long-suffering mother, who wrote them down while I illustrated them.

At the age of eight, I met my first writing mentor–Mrs. Marge Green at School 11, my third grade teacher. Like most writers, I was an advanced reader, so while she worked with other students, I was left to my own devices. She told me if I fancied myself a writer, then that’s what I should be doing–writing. I took her advice and self-published a book, which can be seen here.

Throughout my childhood, I read books all day every day. I told stories to my friends. I lied to my parents, invented stories for show-and-tell, and even fabricated outlandish “sins” to relate to Father Campbell in the confessional. For me, making things up was as natural as breathing.

In 7th grade, I rewrote the ending of OF MICE AND MEN because I was easily able to figure out a way to save Lenny in the end. (Side note: My chihuahua was rescued from a shelter in Salinas, and yes, his name is Lenny.) In high school and college, I was that annoying student who would request extra blue exam booklets for essay tests, because I had a knack for filling them at an alarming rate.

As a graduate student, I worked with a critique group for the first time, and I loved the process. A piece of bad writing could be transformed by this magical concept known as Rewriting. Who knew?

While in graduate school, I wrote my first full-length novel, a romantic historical saga about (I kid you not) the Dutch Revolt. Convinced I was on to something, I wrote its sequel. Eventually, I came to understand that storytelling is a lot more fun when READERS are involved, so I looked around at what readers were devouring at the time (1987). Big sexy western historical romances were the order of the day. And they just happened to be my favorites.

I wrote all 600 pages of TEXAS WILDFLOWER on a typewriter. In about three months. Shiloh Mulvane and Justin McCord consumed me every night. Why at night? Well, because in addition to writing, I was a full-time teacher, a full-time mom of a toddler, a wife, a homeowner, a dog owner. So if you want to write but are waiting until you can “find the time,” forget about it. You HAVE the time. You just have to decide what to do with it.

I sold the book to Wendy McCurdy, then an editor at Kensington, in 1987. Since then, I’ve published a book every year or so, honing my craft and learning the business along the way.

RETURN TO WILLOW LAKE, just published, was written by an older, wiser and much more skilled writer than the one who pouded out Texas Wildflower. My process is pretty much the same as the way I wrote at the age of 3. I make marks on paper, and call it writing.

How about you? What does your writer’s journey look like?

Susan Wiggs’s life is all about family, friends…and fiction. She’s been featured in the national media, including NPR’s Talk of the Nation, and is a popular speaker locally and nationally.

From the very start, her writings have illuminated the everyday dramas of ordinary people. At the age of eight, she self-published her first novel, entitled “A Book About Some Bad Kids.”

Today, she is an international best-selling, award-winning author, with millions of copies of her books in print in numerous countries. Her recent novel, Marrying Daisy Bellamy, took the #1 spot on the New York Times Bestseller List, and The Lakeshore Chronicles have won readers’ hearts around the globe. Her books celebrate the power of love, the timeless bonds of family and the fascinating nuances of human nature.

She lives with her husband and family at the water’s edge on an island in the Pacific Northwest, where she divides her time between sleeping and waking.

Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/susanwiggs

Twitter- https://twitter.com/susanwiggs

Website- http://www.susanwiggs.com

Pinterest- http://pinterest.com/beachwriter1/

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “NYT Best-Selling Author Susan Wiggs Shares Her Writing Journey With Women’s Fiction Writers

  1. What a fabulous interview. I was tickled to see your ‘self-published’ book which reminded me so much of the homespun newspapers I used to write at about that age. Some of them still exist in a trunk – along with a few short stories. Thank you so much for sharing, Susan and Amy!

    Like

  2. Wonderful! Susan, I loved reading about your writing journey and, having devoured so many of your stories late into the night, I’m thrilled to know I have Return to Willow Lake to look forward to next :).

    Like

  3. To answer your question…

    Like you, I’ve always loved story. A childhood neighbour recalls watching me entertaining my dog and cat with story and song.
    Unlike you, I struggled with reading. I’m dyslexic. However, surprisingly, while in elementary school I was published in both the school and local papers.

    Thank you for inspiring me to travel down memory lane.

    Best wishes for continued success

    Like

  4. Thanks for featuring Susan, Amy. I must admit I’ve read most of this because I devoured Susan’s web page. Never get tired of reading about her writer’s journey … a journey that has brought her stories to so many readers … stories that are a true pleasure to experience 🙂 Thanks, Susan !!

    Like

  5. Fantastic post, Susan! Thanks for sharing your journey and reminding us we must be determined to MAKE time for our writing. The funniest thing to me is that I seem to get more writing and editing done at the busiest times in my life. When I have nothing to do but write, well, very little writing seems to get done.

    Like

  6. I’m late catching up on summer emails but I loved this post. Thanks Susan and Amy, as usual. I’m also newly enamoured of Pinterist and loved your images there Susan. I share your geeky obsession with books and libraries so have re-pinned some and followed you. Iove words but I love pictures, too!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s