WIHM: Being Accepted As A Young Writer
An interview with Mariesa Inez whose short “Seven Minutes” will be released in the upcoming ‘Paying the Ferryman’ anthology.
Why did you choose the horror genre?
I didn’t choose the horror genre. The horror genre chose me. And then it possessed me for a while until it consumed my life.
Okay, in all seriousness, that is basically what happened.
I didn’t know much about the paranormal genre for a while. When people would mention it I thought it was all only vampires and werewolves which didn’t really interest me.
Eventually, later towards the end of middle school, I picked up a few YA paranormal books suggested to me by a friend and realized just how broad this genre was. There was so much you could do with it. You could write about the weird and unexplained, making people think twice about what’s really hidden in our world.
I’ve always loved reading and writing fantasy, but I also love the stories set in our world, about the weird things that happen. Paranormal is a perfect mix of fantasy and more darker things. I also loved the idea that you could weave in reality and your own crazy ideas to come up with something that was really cool and imaginative.
Emotions are important to me in a story, and emotions came easily when I wrote a paranormal story. I loved making people who read my stories feel, whether it was fear, curiosity, or sadness. It may sound mean, but some of my proudest moments are when I freaked someone out or made someone cry with my writing. When I create emotion I know it was all worth it.
I’m a pretty goofy person, so people don’t usually expect me to write about what I do. The whole “girls only write cute things” is a gender stereotype, but it’s one many people unfortunately believe. Not that there is anything wrong with these stories but it means that sometimes your stories don’t get taken seriously when you write about darker things.
What was it like to be accepted in an anthology?
It was…indescribable, as I’ve loved writing for so long. Being 15, I never expected to be accepted any time before college or later.
Many people have had people go outright and tell them that they will never be published. I’ve been lucky enough to have a supporting group of family and friends. Still, I’ve met many negative people who treat my writing as just a hobby. Some people will ask me if I’m still writing my “stories” and act like it’s simply a teenager stage not something as serious as it is.
I’ve heard people say being an author is not a good way to live my life. And it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating having people not realize how important something is to you. Writing changed my life. I’ve worked through so many personal things with my writing. It’s made me laugh, cry, and feel powerful. People telling me it’s a mere side project is infuriating. It was as if the fact that I was a young, inexperienced, female and writing stories meant I wouldn’t get anywhere.
I always told myself I could become published later in my life no matter how scary it was or how long it took. The school assignment given to me to send in a short story to a publisher was the most intimidating thing I had done. After pushing send, I felt like I had already done something. I knew I’d made a big step and I was proud. I moved on, and kept writing.
One day, being bored at school, I opened my email on my mom’s laptop, I was expecting the usual random emails, but I saw an email in my junk drawer, and opened it. As soon as I saw the name of the publisher I’m pretty sure I stopped breathing. I read the first line about ten times, mouth hanging open. That’s when I start crying and saying “Oh my gosh” over and over again. I’m pretty sure my friends thought someone had died.
No matter how much positivity we surround ourselves with, there is negativity with. A common mindset that many young people have is that you can never succeed until you’re an adult. No matter what we want to do, most of the time we feel as we can never start working towards our dreams until we’ve gone to college. None of that make sense. Yes, teenagers do have their own unique limits. But, so does everyone else.
Centuries ago, people became adults when they entered their teen years. That was when they got jobs and started lives as a grown up. And now, in the 21st century, teens are assuming they can’t really do anything with their lives until they get out of college.
I myself thought this way as well. I was pretty sure that the next step in my writing life, being published, was something I wouldn’t achieve until I was an adult, and I was okay with that. I was terrified to submit something to a real publisher. I felt confident in my story, after writing 9 different drafts of it, but it felt wrong, doing this as someone so young,
I see now how I was so wrong. I put my mind to something. And even though failure happens, in the end I succeeded.
I went through many periods of time when I was about ready to give up, because I believed I would never write as good as my friends. That day at school when I read that email changed all of that. Even if it’s another ten years or longer until I get published again, I know now that I did it. That I can do it. That age, gender, personality doesn’t matter. It’s all about doing what you love and letting that fuel you.
Mariesa Inez is a homeschooled teen-writer tucked away in a small town in Washington State. She spends her days thinking of sad things to do to her story characters and obsessing over whatever TV show or book has grabbed her attention. She enjoys a quiet afternoon with a Disney movie, eating all the food her health teacher advised against, and enjoying some adventures in the forest with friends.
She has dreamed of being a writer from a young age, writing her first real story about a “super-dog” on the back of a math assignment (she never did finish her math assignment). She developed her love of writing by trading stories back and forth with her best friend. After completing her longest story, a novelette about the Loch Ness Monster, she knew writing was what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. It was soon after this that she discovered an online community of teen-writers just like her.
She has been part of this online community for three years, where she has developed amazing friendships, learned how to give and take critiques, gained confidence in her writing, and learned how to develop her characters to the point where they’re alive to her (kind of creepy, right?).
She aspires to grow up and live in a house full of bookshelves, where she can spend her days painting, drinking coffee, planning cosplays and writing out the many stories and worlds hiding in her head.
Seven Minutes is her first work to be published. Her thoughts and book reviews can be found at her blog: meobird.blogspot.com