I’m a little backwards too. I was a serious writer in high school, then it went on the back burner for years. I became seriously ill, and it took years to partially recover. From that illness, and some of the treatment, I lost a lot of cognitive ability – I went from studying Hydrogeology and Organic Chemistry to can’t balance the checkbook. When I finally found a decent doc, then the right treatment, I started improving. Not long after that, I started writing again.
I had to re-learn almost every part of writing beyond the very basics. AbsoluteWrite.com became my best friend, and I logged serious hours there. looking at my early attempts, a bit over 3 years ago, the growth is phenomenal. I’m always studying, working to improve, and I can see drastic improvement over just a few weeks (sometimes days) in my early stuff. I write every day that I can, and attempt to apply everything I’ve learned every time.
I wrote my first novel at 16, and thought it had been lost in our last trans Atlantic move. Recently, my mom brought me a box that she said had “Army papers” in it. At the bottom of the box, was a marked up copy of the first draft. Reading it now, I see all the elements except a decent plot were there. My writing today is consistently better, and I have good plots.
My current work is ready for publication, but I’m still working to improve it. The only reliable way I know of doing that is to write, a LOT, read a LOT, and study a LOT of what works, ask for and pay attention to the advice of good writers, and ask for opinions of my work from those who read, and write, my genre. And I still spend a LOT of time at AW.