I became interested in writing at such a young age that there never seems to have been a time that I was not interested in it. I made up stories all the time as a child, and began writing them down as soon as my motor skills and education caught up to my imagination. Those early days are truly the happiest time I ever experienced as a writer, because there was no audience, and no one to please. It was just me coming up with ideas and recording them. Usually no one read them. No one else’s opinion mattered, getting them read by others didn’t matter. All that mattered was getting these stories out of my head and on paper where they belonged. I used to sit at the kitchen table banging away on my Canon typewriter while my mom made dinner. When my family bought its first PC in the late 90s, the process became even easier, and even more fun since I could take quick breaks with Solitaire or Minesweeper. (Windows 98 FTW!) No matter how tired I was after doing tons of homework or being out with my family all day, I’d always be driven by that persistent need to free my stories from the dungeons of my mind, as if they were caged animals rather than pure mental constructs.
As you can imagine, I was also a big reader growing up. No genre was off limits to me (except some horror, but I got around that by sneaking the books into the house or reading them at school or a public library) so my writing now isn’t limited by genre either. However, it does tend to be more pitch dark than anything else. I’ve always been drawn to the darkness, and though I don’t think of my stories as horror, it’s never a surprise to realize that that’s what other people consider them to be. Those days hiding out in libraries shaped who I am as a writer, but the downside is that they gave me a rather tragic case of bibliophilia — not only do I loathe digital readers with every fibre of my being; I also hang onto my own “dead tree” books with a fervor that left logic and reason behind years ago.
After years of rejection, I’ve come to accept that perhaps I’ll never achieve my dream of becoming a real published author and seeing my books on library shelves alongside all the writers I’ve devoured in my lifetime. I’ve written two novels, but over a decade of failure to get either of them accepted by an agent or publisher, along with the need to earn some kind of living, has definitely pulled most of the early joy from my work. I started tweeting daily stories as a last ditch attempt to regain it. I also finally started to self-publish one of my novels in the form of a serialized audiobook. My advice to new writers is neither original nor interesting: keep writing. Don’t worry about results like getting published. Just write, and hopefully one day it will lead to something.
If you’d like to read or hear my work, you can find my daily twitter stories @MissKeelahRose or listen to the first installment of my horror novel here. I also write a lot of jokes for myself because I’m a stand-up comedian, and like my taste in literature, my sense of humor is pretty dark. If you’re into that sorta thing, you can check it out here: http://www.facebook.com/keelahrosecalloway. And if you enjoy listening to me ramble for more than 280 characters, you can check out my Polish television debut here.