Qualifications To Write
If you asked any of my high school teachers to guess which of their students was going to publish a novel one day, I can assure you I would’ve been somewhere at the bottom of the list. English was never a fun subject for me. No, I was reeling for art. For music. I didn’t want to read Animal Farm or Lord of the Flies, I wanted to draw something. Create something. Drum something serious! Who cares about words? Grammar? Worst of all… Punctuation? Yet, here I am, three and a half novels later, and a brain chalked full of story ideas to work on in the future.
I’ve always been artistically inclined, more so with drawing and music. There’s a few people I could thank for that and probably the right side of my brain. I was never the studious one in my family, no, that distinct award is held by my older brother, and when we had the same teachers they expected another nose in the book student in their classrooms. Well, I was more than happy to disappoint. I’ve always done what makes me happy. What keeps me focused. If it’s a fifty-hour painting that I carve out a few hours each day to finish, or a song I just haven’t gotten right yet, I will ignore the noise around me and do what I do best. Create.
So why books? I know, I know. I just said I wasn’t a fan of all the words, grammar, and punctuation. Well… to be honest. I wasn’t at first. Hell, when I started writing my first novel (I’ll spare you the boring details), I probably hadn’t read a book in ten years besides work manuals and the occasional video game guide. No, I just wasn’t ready to conquer my first story despite the wonderful idea I came up with or thought I did at least. The tools weren’t there. “’If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”—Stephen King On Writing. I was missing a few steps here. No, this first attempt was the epitome of a car wreck, everyone will want to watch from their windows, but no one will stop and offer a hand. I tried querying for the first time with this story, and oh boy, this was a mistake. The rejections pouring in week after week stung to say the least.
So, pack it in right? Load up the trunk and get the hell outta dodge? Abandon the quest to publish a book? I couldn’t do it. Something drew me to writing. It wasn’t a homework assignment. Not some 1500-word paper, double spaced of course, to be turned in after a long holiday weekend. No. This was for me. And like with everything creative, I started ignoring the noise around me and focused. I studied everything I could. Grammar. Prose. The oxford comma (look it up, it’s a life changer). I did all I could to learn. I read. I read as much as I could ranging from best sellers to self-published works. In the span of a year my reading list easily tripled the number of books I had read throughout my lifetime. Somewhere along this journey I wasn’t doing boring English stuff… I was creating again, this time using the stories from my head.
Here’s a good question you might be asking. Where do my stories come from? I don’t have a concrete answer, sorry to disappoint. I don’t stand in the corner beating my head against the wall trying to come up with something compelling enough to entice readers to buy the damn thing. Although, that’s not a bad idea should I ever hit a lull in the idea department. Let’s hope it never gets to that point. My stories can come from anywhere. Dreams. Interactions throughout the day. Stories in the news. I’ll generally see something and think to myself, “What if…” and I’m off to the races, a new story idea in tow. My next release, HAVE YOU SEEN SARAH BAKER? was a simple thought that flourished into a full-fledged novel set to release with Tule Publishing on May 4th, 2023. I am extremely proud of this book, as it took a few years to finish and couldn’t be happier to share it with all of you.
Back to the main point of this story. THERE ARE NO QUALIFICATIONS TO WRITE! I barely passed high school English. I am a college dropout without a degree to my name. By all standards I have zero credibility to write stories according to some people. My response? My two traditionally published books and active membership to the International Thriller Writers association say otherwise. Don’t ever let someone tell you that you aren’t qualified to write or do something you aspire to do. Learn your craft. Hone your skills. You can’t control what others think, but you can control what you put down on the page. That determination—to me at least—isn’t given to a graduate with their diploma.
Do what makes you happy.
Don’t be afraid to dream.
And for God’s sake, use oxford commas.
About the Author
Raised in a small California farming town, T.A. Cruz spent his childhood honing an imagination as vast as the wheat fields stretching around him for miles. With 6 years of military service and passport stamps from around the world, part of him will always be in that little town with a single stoplight and a population of 1500.
A lifelong lover of horror and things that go bump in the night, T.A. Cruz decided it was time to take that passion to the page and shock and terrify others for a change. When not diving face first into another project, Cruz enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter, two dogs, and axolotl.
I enjoyed your interview. You really showed those teachers up by becoming a published writer. I look forward to reading your new book.