I was a prolific story teller as a child. I lived in an imaginary world created to block out the fear and worry all around me. My stories most often included dogs, because I was so desperate to have a dog. But, just as often, they were stories of a girl alone in the world, searching for her place in it, surrounded by bad advice and sometimes, cruelty.
It's what people who are abused do. They find ways to deal with the terror and to justify the mistreatment. I put my emotions into my stories and didn't even know how much that was helping me cope.
Today, I know. I know that the girl I was, was deeply traumatized and had no where to turn, so she wrote. Every day, she wrote.
Then I Got Serious
As time went on, my storytelling grew into serious work. I wrote a novel in 7th grade. 300 pages of a love story between a widow in an old house, by herself, and the ghost who lived there. Yes, it was an idea stolen from The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Yes, even then I watched old, black and white movies. (Today my 11 year old granddaughter just shakes her head and walks away when I turn on an old black and white movie.)
My writing was private, during my teen years. Private to me and a few select girls in my high school, who all read my stories and clamored for more. Perhaps it was their enthusiasm that kept me going. I didn't get any encouragement at home.
There I was, this frightened and fearful teenaged girl, sitting at my dining room table with pencil and paper, pouring her soul into stories with happy endings, where the heroine always got rescued, knowing there was no rescue for me, in my home. But the very act of writing gave me the courage and determination to get through an other day, and another day, until ... I didn't quite know what the 'until' was, but I knew there had to be something. Something else.
In high school, my senior year, I wrote another novel. A science fiction novel. Another 300 or so pages. A friend who lived down the street helped me type it up and I sent it off to a vanity publisher. What did I know about vanity publishing? Nothing. So, when the reply came that yes, they would publish my book, for $1000 or something, I was crestfallen. Even being given the title of "Most likely to write a book" didn't take the sting away.
Today I know that vanity publishing is called 'vanity' because it's to serve the vain author who doesn't care about anything but getting his book in print. Do not confuse vanity with small press or self-publishing. We'll talk about that soon, but there is a big difference.
For me, at that time, it was a learning experience. I put the book in a drawer and there it sat. Until... I don't know. To this day, I have no idea where that book is. In the trash heap somewhere, I suppose.
And Time Went By... Yawn!
It wasn't until my children were in school that I found the time and courage to go back to school and study writing, finally! It's hard to describe the pure joy I felt the day I walked into the student lounge for the creative writing track at the college I attended. I had finally found a place I knew I belonged. The very smell of books was like perfume! The room was a bit dark, the drapes on the windows were heavy and closed, the furniture was a mismatch of early American attic, heavy and fat, all comfy and cozy. It felt like home. A home I'd dreamed about but never thought I would part of.
There were students there writing. Or talking. Or studying. The kinds of things I had wanted to do, all of my life, but never thought I'd get the chance to do.
Those next two years, completing my BS degree (they still called it a Bachelor of Science degree, even though it was in literature and writing), I was in heaven. I didn't mind the 40 minute drive each way. I didn't mind the work. I didn't mind the fact that I was a good 15 years older than everyone else.
I was where I was meant to be. And no matter what happened afterwards, I knew those two years would be the crowning glory of my professional career.
And Life Goes On
I graduated. With honors. I wrote a lot of papers. I was always appreciative of the grades the teachers gave me, and even when I once got a B+ on a short story, when I thought I deserved an A, it became water flowing under the bridge.
Life goes on. You learn that other people don't define you.
You learn that you are master of your fate, and if you aren't, you better figure out how to become so! (that included a divorce for me)
I didn't go into a writing career path following graduation. My life was fraught with the divorce, surgery, taking care of my kids, finding a job that would help pay the bills. You get it. That place we all end up at some point in our lives.
That period of time that holds us in place, no matter how hard we try to break free.
The one thing that can't happen, while you're standing in place, stuck in place, worried you'll never get free of the chains that hold you so tightly sometimes you can't breathe, is that you don't lose sight of your dreams. Hopes and dreams.
That's what kept me going. The hope that something better was around the corner, the dream that I could, someday, be the writer I'd always wanted to. And the realization, somewhere along the way, that I was in charge of making that happen. Me, not anyone else.
Where I am today is a place of great solace and joy. I help others tell stories. I help other women, especially, give voice to their story, revealing their unique truths about life and love and success. I am part of a bigger picture, a small slice of the whole, a drop of rain offered to a budding author, that she might open and spill her words onto the page and inspire others to greatness.
I will write my novel. Probably more than one.
I will continue to write non-fiction and tell the stories that need telling, about how to write, how to publish, how to get noticed.
I will always be the writer who sat in second grade drawing pictures and making up stories about dogs, because that little girl lives in me still.
What is the little girl inside of you asking you to do? Is she nudging you to tell your story this year? To become a published author next year? Listen to her. Let me hear what she has to say. I am positive it's phenomenal. Because you are phenomenal. Let's show the world just how phenomenal you are.
Time to write your book.