Saturday, November 6, 2010

My Story

Today is my first day as a blogger. It's all a part of my adventure. My journey. So I thought I'd start by telling you how I got here. Better settle in, I still struggle with being a bit too verbose. Besides, I can't possibly tell you my life story in under 500 words! I promise not all my blog entries will be this long. I am, after all, trying to cover forty some years of my life.

I've always loved the written word. I was an enthusiastic and advanced reader as a child, my best grades were in English. Every summer I was the first one in the neighborhood to get all my stamps on my Billy the Bookworm sheet at the library. It was a good thing I lived only one block away. Even as a five year old I was allowed to walk there on my own. I was a nerd, and proud of it!

I also had, and still have, a great imagination. A way with words combined with a vivid imagination, no brainer, right? Even though I was decent at math, somehow I never put one and one together to get to two. Instead I followed my love for animals and went to school to become a veterinarian, after a brief and spectacularly bad stint in acting. Can't say I'm not well rounded!

I never did finish the eight years of college required. Instead I fell in love, got married, and had three wonderful children. I'd always wanted to be a mom, and was happy to stay at home. One of my sons was born with severe health problems and I was forced to become just as much a nurse as I was a mother. I didn't mind that I would never be a veterinarian, my job was very important.

I still turned to the written word as a means of escape. Children are hard work and I needed to get away once in a while, even if it was just to a fictional place in a fictional story. I'm sure this is not unusual in any way. I know plenty of stay at home mom's who love to read. After hours of poopy, screaming, albeit adored children, it's nice to just go someplace quiet and lose yourself in a good book. Occasionally, when I didn't have a book handy and I was having a hard time unwinding from the stressful day, I would lie in bed and make up a story. I'd let it run through my head like a movie until I fell asleep.

Once our children were older, I went back to work part-time. Our youngest son passed away just one week after his 16th birthday. We always knew it would happen, but nothing, no amount of time or counseling, can prepare a parent for the loss of a child.

At this point my other two boys were old enough to take care of themselves and I suddenly found myself with hours of down time. Due to the slowing economy, I was getting fewer and fewer hours at my part-time job. I needed to do something different. This was about the time Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released.

As a family we were avid Harry Potter fans. They were books we could share with our kids through the years. There has been much talk about how J.K. Rowling encouraged children to read. I wonder if anyone's thought about how many people she's encouraged to write. And I don't mean in a look-how rich-she-is-I-want-to-be-like-her kind of way. Face it, her story is quite inspirational.

One night, after reading one of the books, I had a dream. It was just a piece of a story based around Harry and his friends. I woke up before the sun was up and the story kept playing itself in my head. It was driving me crazy and I couldn't fall back to sleep. Finally in some kind of exorcism, I got up and started writing it down. I wrote for two days and eventually had a complete story. In the end, it wasn't half bad. It was only for my enjoyment, but I liked it, and it gave me an idea. After twenty some years, I finally did the math and came up with an answer.

I started by reading books on how to write, it had been a long time since my last English class after all. I subscribed to a writer's magazine. I researched on line. I started writing. I made the decision that I would go back to school and try to see where this writing thing would take me.

Just as I was getting truly excited about starting my second life, the slowing economy came to a screeching halt for my husband who is a builder and architect. I needed to find a job, a full-time job. So much for dreaming.

I found a job working as a receptionist at a vet clinic (talk about coming full circle). I love my job (most days) and I absolutely enjoy the people I work with, but the long hours left me with little time for anything else. I still hadn't given up though. I kept “playing” at writing and finally found a course titled “Writing for Publication” at the local technical college that was being offered on my one regularly scheduled day off.

I was excited, I was terrified, but in the end I was inspired. I'm just finishing my fifth semester of that same class. I have a file full of completed short stories, poems and essays. One of my stories, a personal essay, was accepted and published in The Sun magazine. I started working on a novel, or two, or three. I loved writing them, but somehow lost enthusiasm before the end. Not because I didn't know where the story was going. I think it was the thought that I could put all that work in, lay my soul out on those pages, and getting it published was something akin to winning the lottery. The business end of writing was daunting, and it stopped me in my tracks.

There are several things that have changed that for me. First, I have a friend, who decided she too could write a book. Not only did she write it, it was published. She just celebrated the publication of her second book, a sequel to the first. Secondly, I attended several talks by a local author, who was a stay-at-home mom like myself. She also struggled with the industry. But the industry is changing now and she found her chance and took it. She has five books being published.

It was one thing to be inspired by someone larger than life like J.K. Rowling, or Stephen King (his book “On Writing” is my all-time favorite on the craft), but to see everyday people like me see success, that was invaluable. So now I have found the determination I was lacking before. I've picked up one of the novels I started, I've taken time off work, bought frozen dinners for the family, and put my nose to the grindstone as it were. Every spare moment is dedicated to getting my first novel finished and out there. Opportunities are all around me, and I plan on taking full advantage. I don't know how successful I will be, but I will never know if I don't just do it.

I've already reached a huge goal by becoming a published author. Now I'm aiming higher. J.K. Rowling said in her speech to the graduates of Harvard, "Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default."

If I fail, I don't plan on doing it because I never tried in the first place.

So here I am, ready to take the leap. I hope I have the wings to fly.

4 comments:

Tristan said...

Comment test :)

Gary Banach said...

Fear is a poison...courage and support is the antidote.

D. L. Marriott said...

How true you are Gary!

Evan said...

You'll do well. I believe in you! :)