My name is Joelle Schiltgen, and I have been a lover of writing since a young age. I have evolved from pencil and paper, to on-line round robins, then finally prose; and I will still do any and all, if time permits. I have a wonderful husband who encourages me in every aspect of the things I love (writing, reading, cars, and video games), and will force me to go write even when I’m exhausted just because it is my normal “writing day”. While writing has always been a thing I did for purely my own enjoyment, I always had a dream of doing more with it.

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NOW, with the formal introduction out of the way, I write because I love to write. I write because I feel a ‘need’ to write. And I write because there might be a stranger out there that just needs a little time away from the real world.

Art has always been a passion of mine, in all of its forms. Whether I was good at it or not, it did not matter. When I was young I could not draw so I practiced and practiced. I would sit for many hours in front of a TV screen with the VCR paused so I could draw what was on the screen, simply for the sake that I loved drawing and wanted to be better at it.

So often I hear people around me say “I wish I could…” My response to that statement is easy “You can!” This application is my way of giving myself that same advice. I can do whatever I wish to achieve my goals in life.

I cannot tell you when I first starting writing, but I do remember it was to rewrite scenes from my father’s sci-fi books. I would change them to the way I thought they should be. Growing up, I constantly had a notebook, or three, with me. They were filled with my notes, ideas, and parts of stories that I was working on. When I was in middle school I specifically remember a friend and I going to a movie, sitting as close to a dim light as we could and writing in our notebooks during the entire showing. These notebooks today show me the improvement I have made as I continue to grow as a writer.

I later discovered websites and with this came another art form to teach myself. I wanted to learn this not only for the styling and language behind them, but for the unimaginable audience that the Internet provided. My writing expanded in this on-line world as well. I invested hours and hours on forums with people who loved to write just as much as I did. I collaborated with upwards of twenty people at a time to create ‘living’ stories. There were round-robins where the enthusiasm of one writer carried the next one to a higher level. It just kept building the more that people posted.
I have met so many amazing writers through on-line interaction, and still keep in touch with several of them almost twenty years later.

Designing websites was what I pursued in college. It was a great experience purely for the teachers. Tom Casmer was the teacher whom left the largest impression on my life. He is the husband to Mary GrandPré, who illustrated the American editions of the Harry Potter novels, and a professional illustrator himself. The lessons you get out of someone who is actually in the profession you are working towards is vastly different from a teacher who is not. You are no longer being taught the meaning of ‘chiaroscuro’, but you are being shown it. You are attached to more than just a simple word.

Tom gave me a critique that I’ll never forget. The project was for a simple series of three single page magazine ads. When he looked at mine he told me that the series would be a terrific platform for my portfolio and what would allow me to sell myself to perspective employers. There was an issue though. He said that the hiring manager would love my work, but when they read the small paragraph of copy on each ad, they probably would look to hire me on as a writer instead. Tom did not know I loved to write. (There were no writing classes offered in my degree. There were none even available at my school.) But his words will forever be stuck in my head. At graduation I won “Best Graphic Designer” award for my graduating class. I was not in the Graphic Design branch of my degree.

So what keeps me writing? Really it is because I want to let these characters have a live, whether it is just for my eyes or someone else. I don’t need acknowledgement that it is good. It may not be, but I enjoy reading what I wrote many years after the fact and I chalk that up as a plus in my book.

I would like to do more, I would like to learn, and I would like to write more. So I keep on moving forward in my own made up little worlds.

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