My writing career began around age four or five. I told my dad that I wanted to write a story about Woody Woodpecker, one of my favorite cartoon characters. He took a piece of notebook paper and hand wrote the story in pencil. It must have been a work of art; he laughed hysterically as he wrote it. Daddy kept that story until the day he died. After his death my stepmother cleaned out a cedar chest where he kept his treasures, and she found the story and gave it to me. I can even remember the day I dictated it to him! Trust me; that memory is an unexpected treasure from the past that warmed my heart for days afterward.
I wrote nothing from that long ago day until the year 2002. At that time my son inspired me to try my hand at writing when he wrote a novel himself. That first effort is still in a folder on my computer, but I submitted my second book to a small press called Oak Tree Press. Oak Tree sponsors a yearly contest whose prize is publication of your novel. To my great and utter surprise, I won, and my book A New Leaf was published in 2004.
Since that time I’ve written six more books. I could have finished more, but I have a full time job as a teacher. Why do I do it? It isn’t for the money; very few authors ever get rich off their writing. It isn’t for fame and recognition because I’m not on the New York Times bestseller list. No, I write because I can’t help myself.
My characters reveal themselves to me and demand that I tell their story for them. They get under my skin and nag me until I seat myself at my computer and let them express themselves. I’m totally consumed by their problems and triumphs, and until I give them resolution I can’t get them off my mind. I’ve even been known to take my computer on vacation so I won’t lose an entire day of writing. Often, after a book is finished I have a hard time letting my characters go. I’ve written one trilogy because of that letting go problem. I couldn’t let the Lovinggood family go after I finished their book.
Writing gives me a sense of satisfaction and allows me to express my creativity in a way that I’ve never felt before. I don’t cook anymore and my house needs dusting, but I can’t bring myself to care. I’m having too much fun.
Elaine Cantrell was born and raised in South Carolina. She holds a Master’s Degree in Personnel Services from Clemson University and is a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary sorority for women educators. She is also a member of Romance Writer’s of America. Her first novel, A New Leaf, was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love Contest and was published in 2004 by Oak Tree Books. She is a retired social studies teacher.