Someone asked me last week how long have I been writing, which has brought back the memories of how my love for writing began…
In the seventh grade, my friends Gail Allman, Linda Ryan, Carolyn Taylor, and I started an organization called “Future Writers of America.” We had no adult adviser although Linda often checked with her mother and inserted conversationally “Mama says…” before we voted on new rules or made big decisions. I can’t remember what any of those were other than I insisted members had to actually write stories or they couldn’t be in the club. I wrote westerns, fashioned after the characters on “Wagon Train,” “Rawhide,” and “The Rifleman.”
Having no filing cabinet, much less an office, I kept my novel-in-progress on the floor of my closet for two years. My mother repeatedly griped and scolded me about “the mess in your closet” until, in a spiteful fit of anger, I threw away the unfinished manuscript and asked in that belligerent tone teenagers have, “Satisfied?” Yes, as a matter of fact, she was. I, on the other hand, deeply regret that I tossed the novel instead of putting it in one of my dresser drawers. (Spitefulness is a character flaw that raised its ugly head in my teens and still can bring ruckus to my life if I don’t turn from my emotions and use the brain God gave me.)
I stopped writing, other than high school compositions, until my sophomore year when I signed up for journalism. Once again, I found my passion. Karey Bresenhan was the faculty adviser of the school newspaper, the Hornet Hive, and I can still remember her perfect handwriting above my typed articles where she suggested edits to my pieces. She served as my copy editor; I paid attention and improved.
(An interesting aside: Karey is now president of Quilts, Inc., and director of International Quilt Festival and International Quilt Market. Quilting, throughout history, has been a creative way that women have stitched stories into fabric.)
I stayed with journalism throughout college, even majored in school public relations in my master’s program. I’ve depended on my writing skills in every job I’ve had and I have also freelanced my writing, on the side, throughout my adulthood. My best year of freelance brought $20,000 extra income to my bank account. I don’t write for the money, but it is tasty “frosting on the cake,” as they say.
My current novel-in-progress is in my computer, with a back-up on a thumb drive and a hard copy in a 3-ring notebook. My mother is probably standing beside St. Peter and smiling from heavens’ gate at my organized tidiness. My mentors and teachers, Karleen Koen and Charlotte Gullick, continue their encouragement.
I am a writer. Writing is what I do. It is my passion, my purpose.