My artistic life began at the age of five. That was when the proverbial fire in the belly ignited in me. I wanted to sing, and to be a singer. I began, at that early age, manufacturing audiences and situations so I could let the fire burn. My success, I have to admit, at least in the first fifteen or so years, wasn't spectacular.
That changed over time, though. I compensated for my lack of brilliance with an amazing persistence. Looking back now, and comparing my own young self with students I've taught since, I see that I was disciplined to the point of doggedness, right through college, on through my early professional years, through graduate school, and so forth. The lessons learned in that time are pretty well summed up in my often-reprinted essay Five Music Lessons for Writers (you can read it at http://www.louisemarley.com/lm-in_music.htm if you like).
Now, as a novelist and occasional short story writer, I still compensate for not being a genius by working really, really hard. When I write science fiction, I have to learn any necessary science from the ground up. When I write fantasy, I have to stretch my creative muscles beyond their comfort zone. I consider myself a slow writer, yet I've published eleven novels in thirteen years, which astounds me. I am no super-smart hare. I am a tortoise of a writer, making the most of the abilities God gave me, producing my three pages a day and staring in wonderment at my colleagues who write three books a year.
I retired from a thirty-year musical career--still being surprised and delighted that it actually happened--when my writing career seemed to be taking off. In the weeks to come, I'll be working out some demons on this blog, talking about the vicissitudes of a market in which awards (two Endeavour Awards, a handful of short lists) and critical acclaim (several times on the ALA's Best Books of the Year list) don't assure anyone of financial success. I'll get to ramble on about the choice of writing under a pseudonym. I hope I'll be announcing the imminent publication of my twelfth novel, which I turned in to my agent seventeen days ago (but who's counting?)
I do think if I were smarter, this would probably be easier. But I still love it, perhaps to a fault. I felt, when I was a working singer, that my weakness was how much I loved to sing--anywhere, anytime. I love to write, too. And it will be fun talking with all of you about the life of a writer!