Thursday, February 20, 2014

How I Started My Writing Journey

Today's post is something I wrote to submit to an anthology last year. It traces my journey into the writing world. Those who are just beginning that journey or are partway on the path might be able to relate. If you're partway there, please keep going. In the long run, you'll be glad you did. How did you start writing? Let us know in the comments section. 

 Sometimes Life’s A Puzzle

I think life is a puzzle with many pieces that somehow fit together by the time we're done. It took more than fifty years and a whole lot of patience to find one of the most important of my puzzle’s pieces. And when I did, it fit perfectly into what was already there, even though I had to experience some difficult days before it happened.
    
From the time I was a little girl I wanted to write stories. I excelled in my English classes. It was one subject that I looked forward to, received top grades and soaked up every word the teachers offered.  Helping out at home and working to save money for college left me little extra time to pursue my passion for writing in high school.
    
College and working summers so I could return to campus filled the next four years. Suddenly, I was a teacher and my extra hours were devoted to lesson plans, extra projects for my students, dating and taking care of my apartment. Even so, I still loved words and read as often as my busy schedule allowed.
    
Marriage came next, more teaching, then motherhood and supporting my husband in his career. The writing dream remained in the recesses of my busy mind. Someday I’d tell myself, someday I’ll write stories for children. It was a goal I’d set, although I never mentioned it to anyone else. Maybe the desire hadn’t reached full strength yet.
   
I loved my life as teacher, wife and mother, but an important piece of the puzzle of my life was missing. Would I find it one day? I sometimes wondered, but it remained elusive.
    
Suddenly, my children were independent and my husband took a job in a state hundreds of miles away. After we’d moved to the small town, I found myself friendless, bored, and depressed.
    
One evening, we sat at the dinner table, neither of us talking. Finally, Ken said, “What’s wrong? You haven’t said a word since we sat down. That’s not like you.”
   
I erupted like a volcano that had been simmering for a long time. “I have nothing to talk about. I don’t go anywhere! I don’t see anyone! I don’t talk to anyone!”

As soon as the words spewed forth, I regretted it. Ken liked his new job and the people he dealt with at the bank all day. It wasn’t his fault that the people in this small town didn’t accept strangers. I had signed up weeks earlier to volunteer at the local hospital because I’d loved volunteering in our former community and I hoped it would be a way to meet people.
    
The job given to me was to do all the copy work for the Education department. I spent one afternoon every week in a small room with only a huge copy machine for company. I didn’t mind the work, but it wasn’t what I’d had in mind. It didn’t solve my problem.
   
The hospital held a Christmas Coffee for all hospital volunteers one December morning. It was a perfect opportunity to finally meet some other volunteers. The chairs
were placed in several circles. Great for conversation, I thought. I sat down, balancing my coffee and plate carefully in a circle where three women were chatting. The ladies took one look at me and pulled their chairs into another, already full, circle, leaving me sitting entirely alone, humiliated and miserable. I soon left for home. As hard as it was, the experience proved a trigger to action for me.
    
Flipping through a magazine the afternoon after my rant to Ken, I spied an ad that told me I could learn to write for children through a correspondence course. A tiny spark of interest flickered as I turned the page and then returned to it two more times. I talked it over with Ken that evening. I checked the school’s credentials the next day and enrolled. Why not? What did I have to lose?
    
I hoped a challenge like this might help me enjoy life more. I knew I couldn’t continue on in the same mode much longer. Little did I know then that it was going to change my life.
    
I finished the course in record time with great enthusiasm, wrote story after story geared to middle grade children, the age group I’d taught so many years before. Shortly after I’d finished the course, Ken’s bank was purchased by a bigger one and they transferred him to the main bank. It was located in a larger community, and I found a small critique group where I learned more about writing and heard encouraging words about my stories. I sold a story and was hooked for life. I also made friends within the Newcomers group. Now, my life felt full again.
    
I branched out, trying fiction for adults and turned out some pretty clich├ęd, lame tales. I attempted poetry and some of it was not half bad. Next, I delved into creative non-fiction and a lot of it was published at ezines and then magazines and finally anthologies like Chicken Soup for the Soul and Guideposts. That was where my strength lay. Being one who likes variety in life, I wrote some articles on the craft of writing and many of
them were published. I joined an online critique group and then another one when the first folded. I gained knowledge about our craft, confidence in myself as a writer and some lifetime writer friends.
   
I started a blog about my writing world with the intent of encouraging other writers and found that I loved posting five days a week about a subject dear to my heart. Somehow, the old teacher in me never died, and my blog, Writer Granny’s World, lets me teach through the written word.
    
Lately, I’ve been selling children’s stories again and have an editor interested in a juvenile novel I wrote several years ago. I also continue to write creative nonfiction and articles on the craft of writing as well as an occasional poem.
    

This second act of my existence turned out to be a large and important piece of my life’s puzzle. With it came great satisfaction which continues every time I string words together to create a new story or poem. The loneliness and rejection I felt in that small town ended up making me accept a personal challenge to change my life and satisfy a longing to write. 

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your struggles with your readers Nancy. It's always amazing to me that sometimes when we look back on painful events we can see a reason God made us go that direction. You write with such confidence and are a great inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for the nice comment. Much appreciated.

    ReplyDelete