I didn't always know I wanted to be a writer. It used to annoy me, when I was in my teens and just getting serious about writing and thus pretty insecure, when I'd read about authors who said they knew from when they were little kids. Like it was a calling, and since I hadn't "known" the same way, maybe I hadn't been called, and I was just kidding myself.
Obviously I didn't listen to those insecurities, 'cause here I am.
Don't get me wrong, though. I was always writing. I just didn't think of it as a career sort of thing. It was fun, an extension of the vast dramatic storylines I'd play out with plastic animals and She-Ra action figures on my bedroom carpet. (I had a love for melodrama even as a six year old. There was always the good side and the bad side, and someone from the bad side was always falling in love with someone from the good side, and having all sorts of emotional turmoil over this, and there was violence and betrayal and, y'know, all that good stuff.) My mom still has a file full of my story-writing notebooks from first and second grade: most of the stories about animals, almost all of them about cats.
Why cats? I loved 'em, liked all animals, still do. For a long time I thought I was going to be a veterinarian. That was the career plan. I'd still be writing, of course, but that wasn't work.
Somewhere around grade five, I realized that maybe writing could be more than fun. I remember my teacher picking out my story out of the whole class's and reading it aloud as an example of really great writing. And this was a teacher I admired, so it meant a lot. I started thinking, well, maybe I could be a vet and a writer. Like James Herriot. Perfect.
I think it was in junior high that I finally dropped the vet part. I'd seen a few of the family cats come and go by that point, and a couple of my own hamsters, and it occurred to me that I'd really hate to be the one to tell someone that because I couldn't save their pet, it had died. Too much responsibility. Also, the writing bug had thoroughly infected me by that point. I was starting (but not finishing) novels, and writing novelesque stories that reached up to 60 pages.
Which isn't to say I decided I was going to be an all-out writer. I just decided I was going to do as much writing as possible while having some non-vet career at the same time. See, my parents, while supportive, were also very practical, and they made darn sure that I knew the story writing wasn't going to support me at first, or even necessarily in the long run. (To be fair, I should note that they also suggested lots of ways I could make a more stable career out of writing--e.g., going into journalism.)
They were right, and I'm glad I believed them. That practicality, along with more than a little luck, has ended me up in a position where I can work part time at a good job, and make enough to spend the rest of the time on my writing.
In short, I knew I wanted not just to write, but to be a writer, when I was about 13 years old.
Back in the present, I have only one thing to announce. I now consider myself to be halfway through Merry-Go-Round! (This is based on the premise that, since all my other novels ended up being almost exactly 60,000 words, this one probably will, too. And I just passed 30,000. I do not know why I always write to 60,000 words. That just happens to be how long my ideas are, most of the time.)