I'm a writer, unpublished, though hopefully before the year is out...but based on the last 30 years of writing experiences, writing is an integral part of my soul. It's the #1 way I express myself. Here's the compliments over the years that I can recall that have accumulated into a realisation that my purpose is to be a professional writer. First one I recall is from my ex father-in-law during my 20s, the early years of my doomed marriage. On a whim I decided to write him a letter. A few pages of a typical "Hi, how's things? letter turned into a 30-40 page epic Creatively writing about all manner of things stemming and tangenting off common letter subjects like weather and the kids, etc...even writing pages inspired by common words or phrases that would never be seen in day to day conversations. He said it was like reading a cross between Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Catch 22. I read Zen a few years prior (5 times in a row during a nasty bout of Depression and suicidal thoughts), and Catch 22 was one of my fav movies, first seeing it in my teen years. ( watched it again recently, though found the book difficult to get into) That compliment made me feel good regarding how I think and express myself. No thoughts of being a writer yet. A few years later, uncomfortably thrust (discomfort due to low self-esteem and zero experience, of being introverted and not wanting to be a leader or the center of attention) into doing Sunday School at the 2nd last church I attended, at the end of the year all SS teachers were invited to be part of a SS presentation for the congregation. I created and presented my short lesson on a spiritual aspect. An Elder, of whom I was fond of an inspired by, told me that I could be a teacher for he found the way I presented the info was clear, simple, concise and engaging. This was the first seed sown towards my future occupation, but unaware of it at the time. Though the experience was deeply embedded. Several years later, mid 30's now, marriage newly over, new church, single parenting, in a lot of pain. Each week I'd fill out the prayer request forms. The one short line wasn't enough space. I'd spend a huge portion of the sermons filling every empty space on both sides of these forms with details of our current plights...expressing myself much like how I'm doing now. One morning, one of the associate pastors saddled up to me, we chatted for a while. I imagine to get to know me more due to his intrigue of the perosn who writes these lengthy prayer requests. He said most of them looked forward to mondays for that was the day they read my requests. It was he who remarked that I should be a writer, based on various elements of my writing style. We talked more, and in that convo I began to see the succession of writing experiences and my passion for it that initiated the thought that I was to be a writer. During this decade I also discovered the internets and forums. In one christian forum, I'd sometimes receive compliments for the insights I shared. Folks appreciating the way I dealt with their problems, either providing info that solved their problem or inspiring them to keep going or to feel good about themselves during their dark times. I would also write crazy fun stuff and fiction in the social sections. One such event were a few short stories about the adventures of myself and Jet Su Shi, a penguin. This was before Surfs Up and any other Penguin stuff in movies. Penguins are one of my Totem Animals. Several folks enjoying the stories and anticipated the next installment. These were different compliments due to different aspects of my writing abilities, but still adding to my vision of becoming a writer when ever I'd think of it. While folks waited for the next installment, one day I was once again overcome with Depression and suicidality and I translated that suffering into killing off Jet Su Shi and my alter ego. My fellow forum members were shocked, for the manifestation of Hell was swift and there were no signs of trouble brewing. They were expecting another cute and wacky adventure and they got a nasty death and destruction one instead. They knew of my problems for I'm pretty open about my inner workings, though I imagine they felt they could offer no help, thus the demise of The Jet Su Shi stories was never discussed other than a few short statements of disappointment. Now in my 40's deconverted from Christianity, still hangin' out in forums, one at a time. I recall one story I wrote, either the one about the leaf or the leeches in my fav rainforest I would hang out in. One girl saying upon reading it that she felt as if she were there in the rainforest, that my writng had transported her in a big way. I wasn't even trying to, I just tried to express what it felt like for me. At this time in my life I just wrote because I enjoyed it. I enjoyed verbal communication. There was no conscious planning or development going on regarding my future occupation. The idea for the book I've just finished the first draft of, was several years down the track. That is, the idea to be a published author, to write a book instead of simply enjoying writing article style and sized posts in forums, had yet to become a serious matter to me. But as I look back, all the compliments, the observations and suggestions from others, plus all the various types of "dabbling" stuff I've written, were all part of the development journey towards this current soon to be realised goal. My writing has made a small number of folks laugh, cry, be inspired, made them think, feel good about themselves and change themselves in order to have a better quality of life. I've also received an equal amount of negative feedback. Some folks just hate or simply don't rez with many aspects of myself and how I express my thoughts and feelings on matters. I think this is to be expected. There's no way I can be everyone's cup of tea. Shit, most family members no longer like hangin' out with me. But as a writer, what is worth focusing on is the positive connections that've been made. The most imporant positive connection is the one I have with myself. I enjoy and appreciate all the work I've done. I've learnt to cease being concerned about external validation during the creation period. I like what I've written so I share it with others. That seems like a no-brainer. The key was to not be concerned about feedback while creating, but honestly listen to it once you've shared, in order to hone your craft, as honing is done regardless of an audience or not. I think I've had enough positive feedback in the small circles I've shared to conclude I have a reasonable chance to be successful.