Stephen King says a writer who doesn't read isn't a writer, or something like that. I'm paraphrasing, here, but you get the idea...
I have never NOT been a reader. Never. I was reading when I was three and have a rather eclectic taste in books. I cannot express my joy at discovering the Kindle app for my iPhone four years ago. I thought, "Cool, I can catch up on the classics!" Because, I had $0 and that's what I found that was free. I read every single Mary Roberts Rinehart book, because my mom and my aunt said she used to be their favorite. Then... THEN...Then I discovered Indie Authors.
And life has not been the same for me since.
At first, I was just searching for free books. Any free books would do. I realized that anybody was publishing here, and some were good, some were bad, and some were great. My husband would laugh at my snorts of derision, when I found a particularly awful book (one zombie book in particular comes to mind, a thinly veiled attempt at propaganda against the Bush regime, which would have been effective, had it been edited or something).
Eventually, he said to me, "You really should write a book. Heavens knows you'd be good at it, and you certainly read enough." Well, that's not exactly what he said, but it was something like that. I thought about it, and realized that I had a story or two inside my head that had been rambling around in there for awhile. I'd journaled my whole life, and taught writing to high school students, so I knew the basics.
So I went for it.
I locked myself in my room with my laptop for weeks, and pounded out my first masterpiece, an eighty thousand word tome, entitled Hunkalicious, complete with a bad boyfriend, hunky next door neighbor, six ancestral ghosts, and a hidden treasure. I promptly posted the first five chapters on authonomy, and let the ridicule begin.
Wow. It sucked big ones. I even sent it out to almost ten of my best friends and family members for feedback. The only person to respond to me was my mother, because I see her every day, and badgered her incessantly.
Hunkalicious taught me a lot about the revision process. If you're curious, it's free on AMAZON, BARNES AND NOBLE, and SMASHWORDS. And now it's called Neighborly Complications. The ghosts are gone, and the asshole boyfriend is history. I killed those darlings.
But the process taught me a lot. I learned about finding good beta readers, not friends and family. I learned about not being afraid to try something new, outside of your comfort zone. I learned about the joys of cutting crap out of your story.
Each story I've written since then has taught me more about the writing process and myself. I took writing workshops as a teacher, I went to them as a child, I wrote every day for most of my life. It just never occurred to me that it would ever become my living.
I had to step outside my comfort zone. I'm still not totally comfortable answering questions about what I do. I tell people I'm a writer, and the first question is always, "What do you write?" When I say Romance, that's usually the end of the conversation. Unless of course it's my husband's Aunt Karen, who insisted that I listen to her theories about why Romance is degrading to women. That was a conversation I had with her two years ago. She still asks me if I'm "...finished writing your little book?" But my acceptance of my profession and the shit I deal with when I talk about it sounds like a post for another day.