Writing is no small feat.  It takes discipline, a willingness to be rejected, and a tough exterior that can withstand comments from family and friends that writing is not a REAL job.  Giving yourself the title of writer is a ballsy move when everyone around you giggles or looks askance at the very idea.  Sitting alone in a room, closed off from the world for hours each day invites the imagination to take flight, but the soul to wither once in a while.  Writing is scary as hell, delightful as the laughter of a child, and simply amazing.  So if it’s all these things and more… why do I write? 

 

Sinclair Lewis said, “It’s impossible to discourage real writers—they don’t give a damn what you say.”  He got it right for the most part.  I began writing as a child in bed with the covers pulled up just enough that I felt like a secret agent uncovering something no one else knew.  In the bed across from mine, my older sister slept like a baby.  I wrote on one of those yellow tablets with bluish-green lines left over from the year before.  Often using a nub of pencil I sat with the tablet perched on top of my knees writing frantically.  Back then, I wrote about how cool it would be to be in high school, date, and go out like my older siblings.  What I wouldn’t give to find one of those stories that I wrote among a bunch of old papers. 

 

In third grade, the students of Mrs. Throne’s class were asked to write about an adventure.  Thus began several years of dreaming of becoming an archeologist.  My essay took place in the desert of an exotic land.  I rode a two-humped camel sitting between the humps.  Dear Mrs. Throne became my most favorite teacher because she liked my story, told me it was funny, and gave me an A.  I kept that story for years, but after several moves, it’s come up missing along with a box of childhood memories and treasures. 

 

Shortly after getting married at a tender age, my mother gave me a journal.  I found it not so long ago and read it.  It took me back to the angst of being 20, trying to be happily married, and figure out life With the birth of a daughter, it was time to put childish toys away, and I stopped writing anything more than grocery lists, cute remembrances of little ones in baby books, and once in awhile, letters to family and friends flung far and wide across the country.

 

It took the death of my mother to shake me out of a fog that engulfed me for years.  Suddenly, I couldn’t wait for the children to get on the bus and go.  Like a maniac, I waited until they were on the bus and then I set the tea kettle on the stove, grabbed paper and pen and wrote at the dining table, looking up to peer out the bay window that overlooked the expanse of front yard.  I didn’t stop to eat, I didn’t stop to pee, I just wrote.  Only Gwennie, our boxer, brought me out of my imaginary place with a cold nose nudging my leg. I got out the old typewriter and began typing until the ink on the ribbon dried.  During this time, I wrote in secret, designing worlds that I wanted to visit populated with people I wanted to be.  When I heard a car driving up the lane, I’d toss the papers and pens into a drawer.  I didn’t have to be secretive, but I found excitement in keeping my writing life hidden. 

 

My mother’s death was also the catalyst for life changes.  After the finality of a divorce, I needed to reinvent myself.  I wanted to write.  I took myself to the place of my dreams, Cape Cod, and set about writing.  I journaled, I worked on novels, and I licked old wounds that needed to heal.  I didn’t have the know-how or the worldly sophistication to point myself in a direction that would make me the writer I wanted to be.  I didn’t understand the need for networking and getting to know people who can help lower the ladder.  So I took retail jobs, but continued to write.  I went to Cape Cod Community College in Barnstable pursuing an English/Creative Writing degree.  Two years there with a goal of two years at Mount Holyoke would surely get me to the writing place I yearned for.  One year at 4 C’s was all I could afford. 

 

A circle needs to come around to the point of its beginning and I did just that.  I moved back to Ohio and once again found myself in a position of needing to reinvent myself.  This time I became a bull-headed terrier refusing to let go.  I stumbled upon a site that claimed to publish anyone’s writing.  I jumped in and started writing.  When I received money for writing, no matter how meager, I was ecstatic.  Finally, finally someone besides third grade teachers and creative writing profs believed in me. 

Writing is a coy lover.  One moment inspiration hits, followed by frenetic activity and the next it recedes into a dim room of emptiness.  I’ve read numerous times that writing is not a chosen vocation…it is an obsession, a part of who the writer is, and I join ranks in this belief.  I cannot turn my back on writing.  I cannot just walk away.  Writing beckons, no demands that I follow.  I found great delight and wearisome tears in the journey so far, but  I can’t wait to see what lies around the next corner because I am a writer.