Four Years Ago Today

Four years ago, I bought Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. At Kroger.

My neighbor, Karen, was working nights there at the time, and she's the one who told me they had copies to sell at midnight. My youngest son had just turned one, and I was still in sleep deprived mode (still am, actually). Because I used to stand in the driveway with her, watching our boys play, and making her listen to my rabid Harry love, she agreed to pick up a copy for me. She promised to leave it on my porch at six the next morning when she got home. She also promised to call me if it looked like she might not be able to snag one because too many people were in line.

The phone rang at 11:00.

I jumped into my husband's company car - free gas - and did my very best to drive the 20 mile per hour speed limit through the neighborhood. I'd gone half a mile when the blue lights started flashing behind me.

I remember thinking, "Oh crap. I was driving so slow that the cop thinks I'm drunk. He's going to make me do a sobriety test (which I couldn't pass in any situation), and because I'll fail it and because I'm in a hurry and because I didn't change out of my pajamas, he's going to take me to jail. And because my husband turns off his cell at night, no one will come post bail, I will STAY in jail."

And then I remember praying, "Please God let me buy the book first."

He walked up to the car with his flashlight and asked to see my license. Thank heaven he didn't ask for my registration; we'd still be there.

Him: "Ma'am, did you know your right headlight was out?"

Me: (babbling) "Oh, thank you, I didn't. This is my husband's car. I don't leave the house at night. I don't really ever leave the house, actually. I'm a mom. I'm on the way to Kroger. To get the new Harry Potter book. Are you a reader?" (smiling maniacally)

Him: (backing away slowly) You have a good night, ma'am.

I got to Kroger at 11:12.

I was home by 12:10.

I finished before noon the next day.

The second I was done, I hit the ground, sobbing, and made a promise to try to write a book.

I want to hear YOUR stories. Did you always want to write? Did you have a defining moment that made you say, "This is it!"? Tell me in the comments.


  1. Great story--and I'm glad you wrote your book!

  2. This post gave me chills. I'm so glad you kept that promise!

  3. I was at that midnight release party too. Well, in Cali. With my little man sleeping in his stroller. Don't judge.

    I feel incredibly blessed to be one of many young authors influenced by the life and legacy of JK Rowling. Other authors have changed my writing as well: Jodi Picoult, Tasha Alexander, Cornelia Funke, Patrick Ness, and in a very unexpected way, Stephenie Meyer.

    All those tween girls carrying around vampire books--what the heck, right? So, I read them and understood the estrogen frenzy. And I wondered, can I do this? Can I do it better and still cling to my convictions?

    It wasn't much later I committed to write what will be next year's debut novel.

    God bless authors and the things we learn from them.

  4. I was also at the midnight release party. I stood in line for an hour and a half, and read the book until I finished it the next morning. I sobbed. Hysterically.

    Just like I did yesterday at the movie.

    I've always wanted to write :) But two summers ago I woke up with a character in my head that wouldn't go away. We were out of town at a lake house sans computer, so my husband drove out and bought me a spiral notebook. I spent the next two days writing by hand. Got home, transferred it to the computer.

    And I haven't really stopped since :)

  5. Great story! I have been writing since I was five. I even have a few stories that I wrote back then. It's taken years for me to gain enough confidence to try it at a professional level, though.

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  7. My husband and I saw Order of the Phoenix then went to Walmart to get Deathly Hallows. We left for the lake the next day and I read it out loud to him while he drove. My boys were in the back wondering if I was insane. Now they know I am.
    I've always been a writer. I wrote a series about boy/girl twins, Fred and Rita, in the 4th grade.
    3 years ago at Thanksgiving, I started writing my first book. It's a struggle to find the time with work and the boys but I am committed to finishing.

  8. Funny. I think I waited for amazon delivery, and compulsively checked tracking info until I got home.

    I'm not sure why I started writing, maybe because I was 15 and bored of the lack of great fantasy novels with YA protags. Then I gave it up because nobody was writing books like that, and I discovered art and went to college and grad school... You get the idea.

    I swore to myself that once I got my MA, all I was going to do was read all the books I'd missed out on while in college. Then Katrina came and I lost my camera (and all my clothes and nearly everything else, but I was VERY lucky) in a fire, and I started thinking about all the pleasure I'd derived from my writing, and figured there was no time like the present.

    And the rest is history.

    Great post, Myra!

  9. I was lucky enough that my dad agreed to take 10-year-old-me to the Borders release party. I didn't really like the party. I just wanted the book.
    I remember the book that inspired me to write did so not because it was good, but because it was not that great and I thought that I could write better. Two years later ... I haven't finished a book, but I'm a writer. :D

  10. Haha, I love your story!

    Mine isn't as great, I has just finished Lauren Kate's Fallen at the end of 2009 and put up a word document and just started typing. I wrote like a paragraph and then left it.
    A year and a half later, during my GCSE's and having a boyfriend for most part, I finished my first book!

    Great post, by the way- is your book going to be released in the UK? I really want to read it, everyones said so many great things on their blogs!

  11. OMG--Myra, I LOVE this post. I'm so glad you wrote Hourglass. Thanks for sharing Emerson's story with us.

    Writers inspire other writers, no doubt about it, and just think -- perhaps Hourglass will do that for someone too. :D

    I had a similar experience to yours--not with the HP series (although I loved them terribly) but with that little known series about sparkly vampires. :D I'd just flown through all four books ("will he bite her or won't her?!") after the birth of my youngest son. I experienced the same hollow-end-of-a-series-hangover that I'd had when I'd finished the HP series, and I thought, what if I were 16? And desperately wished for something fantastic/otherwordly/earth-shaking to happen to me? Not falling in love with a sparkly vamp, or discovering I was a wizard...but something else? And my first novel was born that afternoon. :D

    Thanks for sharing. I can't wait to read whatever you write next.

    Fun post.

  12. I think that it is great that you were so inspired by that book to write your own. :)

  13. Awesome story! I am reading Hourglass right now and am very glad you made that vow!

  14. Well, I'm glad you wrote your book. :)

    Four years ago, a nagging itch got me to re-read the Maximum Ride series. Six months later, I could no longer fight thoughts of my own adventure story zapping my mind at all hours of the day and night. I finished that story and two more. I just can't stop.

  15. 4th grade: My teacher explains to me that I am a bad speller, and I will always be a bad speller. So writing as a career will not be a good choice for me.

    5th grade: My "What I did on my Summer Vacation Essay" is all about my bungee jumping experience and living in my aunt's barn while being mistreated by my cousins. What I really did that summer was watch the Young and the Restless and eat pizza rolls...but the bungee jumping and barn-living summer was more interesting to me, so I just made stuff up.

    8th Grade: I start secretly writing my first novel about Iris Ripley, a violinist who runs away from home and falls in love with Avery Johnston.

    11th Grade: I take a creative writing class, and I learn that I am a terrible writer.

    College: I want to major in theater and English, but I have classes with mean professors. So I keep changing my major until I find the nicest professors on campus. I major in history.

    Grad School: I attempt to get a PhD in history. It is awful. I need money so I get a job at the local library as a children's librarian. Fortunatly, I remember all of the books that I loved as a child so I interview well.

    One day at the library I observe that I don't like my life all that much, I awaken to everything around me, and I ask what would I do if I could do anything? I check out a book on screenwriting, finish reading it that day, and begin writing a screenplay called Pittsburgh.

    Six months later, May 2010, Rachel Hawkins walks into my library hands me a copy of Hex Hall and says, "I wrote this book, and I would like to donate a copy to the library." Or something like that I don't really remember because people bring me "books" that they wrote all of the time and those books are usually not very good. But then I read it, and Hex Hall was good, like a real book is good.

    After meeting a real live person who wrote a book that I really, really liked, I decided that I would at least try to write a book to see if I could do it.

  16. I love this story so much. It made me sniffle a little. By the way, your fabulous little HOURGLASS is popping up on so many blogs right now as the best read in July. :)

  17. I adore this post because I relate in so many ways. Harry Potter changed my life. I wouldn't be a writer today if it weren't for that series and what JK Rowling has taught me about writing. Harry is what kept me a reader throughout high school, when boys and friends won over my habit of staying in all day reading.

    I was 17 when the final book came out. My pre-teen dreams of being a writer were distanced by work and school, but it was still in the back of my mind.

    The final "PUSH" came in two stages:

    1) In college, I had an excellent honors English teacher. I knew I was a fair writer, so "honors" it was, but I didn't take it seriously at all. Our professor became more of a mentor than anything, and his entire 101 class chose to stay with him an additional semester for English 102.

    Second semester, I had realized how easy it was for me to write a paper and severely over estimated my abilities; I turned in a 5pg research paper I wrote in about 45 minutes before class. When my professor gave it back to me, he told me "I'm very disappointed in you. You have more talent than this."

    That statement changed my life and how I felt about writing. I was ashamed. From that moment, writing became something more for me. I didn't want to let him or anyone else down. I haven't half-assed anything since ;)

    2. I dated a guy who, as many of them do, completely changed over the course of our relationship. The compassionate and loving man I fell for, turned into someone who found any reason to put me down. He told me I was stupid quite often, amongst other things, but that one hurt the most because I still feel it was very unwarranted.

    After I finally broke it off with him, I was filled with a desire to do something meaningful. To prove to him and myself that I was capable. I shifted my focus from partying, to reading and writing.

    Best decision I've ever made :)

  18. Holy Cow I think you might just be my twin sister that was separated from me at birth! Okay, that may come off a tad psycho (grin), but really, it's like we share a brain sometimes. Total HP geek and wear my badge proudly, despite the eye rolling and head shaking it produces from my husband. He can just stuff it!

    I have not always been a writer, story teller yes, but that was for my own amusement. Long and terribly embarrassing story. But last fall the voices came to me as well. Persistent little buggers too. Thought I was losing my mind until I told a friend, and fellow YA addict, that I was thinking about writing a book. She immediately jumped on my bandwagon.

    Almost a full year later I am working with an editor on tweaks and refinement before I submit myself to the scarey world of literary agents.

    I have always been the artsy kind (family trait going back to the dark ages I think), but until I pulled out my laptop, and started a new word doc, I had never found something that felt 'right.' Now I cannot stop and the voices will not quit! The part that amazes me most is how sudden it hit me. Once it did though I think I caught a distinct 'bout time!' tone to the voices in my head. =^)

    Who knows, maybe one day I will have a blog posting praises for the authors, such as you Miss Myra, that have been inspirational to me through the 'getting the toes wet' process of being a writer...


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