Early on, I wanted to be writer. Even before I could formulate the idea. My mother taught me to read and write by the age of four. As an oops child, books fast became my best friend. In first grade, I inadvertently taught other students to both read and write by passing them notes in class. Ruined the suspense of our reading circle because I informed everyone how Dick and Jane ended. Personally, I think Dick and Jane could have used a little more conflict in their tales.
As I grew, I spent more time writing and less time destroying other children’s reading enjoyment. In the early years, I did receive mixed reviews for my efforts. Some teachers objected to my talking animals and flying people. Sounded a bit like witchcraft. Even though forbidden, I did get a peek at my permanent record being an expert at reading upside down. My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Pate, thought I had genuine writing talent. I always loved that woman.
As a teen, I won a few contests, even got paid for magazine publications. Between an active social life and a part time job, I wrote every free minute I could grab. These free minutes were usually available only in school. Not all teachers were supportive of my writing and would sometimes pick up, even destroy my work. To circumvent teachers’ inherent nosiness, all my characters became animals with exotic names. In truth, they were actual people in the school. My on-going comedic novel about the creation of the world, heavily read by dozens of students, but frowned upon by several teachers, would be out in weekly installments. I had friends who scribed different copies for me since the ditto machine was in the teachers’ workroom. That first novel attempt may have been my most read story.
In college, I discovered the joy of research. So much so, I wrote my professor’s dissertation on Charlotte Gillman Perkins. Even though assigned to do only the research and organize it in chronological order, it seemed natural to include a running narrative with it. To say she was appreciative was putting it mildly. She wrote endless references for whatever program or job I wanted. That was my first taste of the power of the written word.
College was as close to writing heaven as I thought possible. Papers were due every week. Fear of reprisal kept me from expressing my joy about these assignments around other students. It seemed like I was on my way to literary greatness at least in my dreams. Sometimes I imagined myself as another Hemmingway without the beard or the hard drinking. Even had two professors warring over me; one thought I should be a poet, the other a fiction writer. Why I couldn’t be both was beyond me.
At that time, I published a great deal mainly in anthologies, and an occasional magazine or book. Then it happened, the separation. Writing was forgotten when I married. Although I never forgot it, it seemed like my husband vehemently opposed it because it was something I did alone. If I’d known writing was not part of the deal, I wouldn’t have married at all.
Children followed, along with several across country moves. My life became full of the business of living. Every now and then, someone would find out I could write. Then I would pen the flyers for the school auction or the column for the weekly church newsletter. Still, I longed for those days of world building and typing out unforgettable characters.
Later on, as the kids left home, I fell into a local RWA group. The women were so kind and encouraging, even those who were multi-published authors. So, I started to write again. At first, I wondered if I still had the spark. The words came fast and furious along with the ideas. The characters spoke to me when I was driving, even when I was asleep. My first real publication was in A Cup of Comfort series book. I was so excited because they were even available at Wal-mart. I waited and waited for them, but they chose not to carry that particular edition at my Wal-mart store. I had to order all my copies from Amazon.
Just as I was getting my writing feet under me, Two things happened. My best friend died, and I divorced. As a result, I moved away from my supportive writing group for a job. For two years, I wrote articles, stories, even poems about dealing with my grief, and published a few. Still, I stumbled around wondering how I could be so foolish to even think I could write. The agent I thought I had went out of business without informing me. Needless to say, it was a dark time, but I continued to write.
Often I see writing as the way I make sense of the world. Other times it is my salvation. I have been fortunate in so many ways. RWA provided me with the chance to sit beside many excellent writers; I have found supportive friends and critique partners, and have published a few e-books, but no major novel yet. Ironically, I had difficulty calling myself a writer even though I had business cards printed up with that particular designation. I am trying. It is all part of the dream. Without dreams, we die.
I’d love to hear about the high and lows of your writer’s journey.