About 13 years ago, I took an IT job in the development group where I worked. My initial job was to manage outsourced programmers for Y2K conversions. (Anyone remember that, Y2K?)
At least three people in high positions told me to my face that they thought I would never be a real programmer, that I could just do project management in this role if I wanted to. That still pisses me off. My ex-husband never pissed me off that much. Honestly, it still makes me really angry.
Through determination and spite, I learned how to write desktop software and web applications and develop databases. I did it by reading, asking pointed questions of the other 'real' developers when I was stuck, modeling my early applications after theirs, and eventually figuring out how to change that model to do what I needed.
It was a slow process. I worked on it every day all day. I was relentless. And eventually I was very good at it.
When I got to that point, I looked back at some of my early programs and saw what was wrong with them. One of them had 1000 ASP pages (*wince*). I was so proud when I wrote it, but eventually learned that less is more with programming. Now I could do it with ten pages. Oh well. It worked really well and is probably still in production, so whatever, right? (Anyone else missing classic ASP?)
I'm starting to feel the same way about my writing. I've been writing fiction for three years. No one said I couldn't do it except that little voice in my head, but I still have a little bit of the same feeling - like I need or maybe just want to prove myself to anyone that thinks I can't do it - including myself.
I learned how to write from a lifetime of reading and from just doing it. My writing has improved immensely from feedback from CP's and my daughter, who was born to be an editor and won't let me get away with even one line of weak dialogue.
Now that I have three novels written, I feel like it's time to focus on what's weak about them - weaknesses I couldn't see until now.
I wish I could take a college class, the kind I avoided like the plague when I was in college out of fear of criticism, criticism I really need now. But there are literally no offerings at any of the colleges in the vicinity at times I can go. The soonest my mommy obligations will allow me to take a class is 2014.
So I bought some books on craft. I'm going to figure out how to strengthen my weak spots (one weak spot at a time) all by myself the same way I taught myself how to rise to the next level with software development. Instead of analyzing the software of my peers, I will read the fiction on my bookshelves and pay attention to the details of how they wrote it. (Note to self to start with modern fiction, not Milton or Shakespeare or Chaucer.)
It's going to be a lot of work. I think I still have a lot to learn and am excited to learn it. And, yes, I'm going to keep writing my next several books in the meantime and hopefully get better at it as I go. Hopefully by the time 2014 rolls around, I won't need that class anymore.