I’m celebrating the first anniversary of my blog by giving the long answer to a question I have been asked by many friends and family members over the past ten months.
You see, I’ve wanted to be a writer my entire life. And I realized recently that I am, and have been, just not in the way that I had always thought I would be. It started with books when I was a kid. As I voraciously devoured story after story, I dreamed of having stories to share and of being a writer. At that time, I had a very narrow definition of what ‘a writer’ was, and the definition in my head meant I would spend my days in front of a keyboard, writing a novel, having it published, and then repeating the process. I never thought I’d write the great American novel, and in retrospect a plan to get me from point A to point B might have been helpful. In truth, perhaps I was more of a dreamer than a writer. But I did write.
As a child, I kept a diary for a year or two. I didn’t have a particular eventful or exciting life, but even so, my first attempts at bringing words to life were weak and lacked just a bit of detail. Here are a couple gems.
- July 19, 1974 – Today was my cousin’s son’s birthday. He is one years old.
- December 25, 1974 – Today is Christmas Day.
- May 5, 1975 – Today nothing happened.
When I was in elementary school I wrote, illustrated, published, and bound my first work of fiction. I still have it and wish I had included a copyright date as I don’t know if this was a project in Mrs. Patterson’s class or Mrs. Shellenbarger’s class. (I’m sorry I can’t remember. I loved you both!) This was a pretty big deal as it was before self-publishing was a thing, and nobody had heard of Amazon. My affinity for writing fiction and free verse poetry continued in fits and starts over my scholastic years, and although I was studying for a business degree, I filled my electives quota with creative writing classes.
After college I don’t remember writing much. I’m sure I still had daydreams of producing a novel, but for ten years I concentrated on work, marriage, and starting a family. And then suddenly, I began sitting in front of the computer in the evenings, putting words on the page after my son had gone to bed. I wrote 49,096 words about a Human Resources Manager at a manufacturing plant (write what you know), working with quirky employees and fun friends. Workplace drama ensues.
The result was terribly amateurish and the whole manuscript had huge flaws, but it was an incredible experience for me. I learned so much about writing including how cathartic it could be. In my ‘real-life’ I had lost a work friend to cancer and through my words, I was able to escape from that real world, including her, alive and well, in my story, creating a life for her as I wished for it to be. Recently, my circle of encouragers have asked if I can edit that first manuscript and ‘fix’ it. Sure I could update it some and change the main character’s crush on Richard Gere to one on Jason Momoa, but I think it’s probably best left alone. I have many other stories still inside of me. I’m constantly jotting down notes, working on outlines and plot ideas, and developing characters in my head. I know some of my fictional characters better than I know the coworkers that I see every day.
Sometimes its hard to make the time to write. After a long day at work, when my creative juices and self-motivation are battling with a comfy couch and wiener dogs begging for snuggles, guess which usually wins? But two years ago I made a deal with my son to write about prompts together and then share our work with each other. It was good practice and we made a commitment to each other to make the time for writing. And although I have never cared for my writing topics to be chosen for me, I started trying to weave the topic of the prompt into scenes for my future novels, throwing my known characters into the fray.
And in some weird way, that commitment to writing regularly led me to my current blogging situation. I needed an outlet for self-expression, and I also wanted to preserve my memories of my folks that I didn’t want my family or me to forget. So I started off, with lots of memories and little confidence. Self-doubt runs deep in me, and although I started writing and posting on www.onceuponawillow.home.blog in November 2018, I didn’t have the confidence to ‘turn it on’ so others could see my words until January 2019. Big thanks are in order for all my encouragers, but especially my copy editor friend who convinced me that I could run my own WordPress site, my sister who read all of my words and listened to me talk and fret endlessly about all of my words, and my aunt who has inspired me so much more than she knows. She always expresses interest in my blog whether I’m pouring out my deepest heartfelt feelings or ranting about my washing machine. I love you, AM.
So, I’ll take my progress as it comes, however slowly. Over the course of forty plus years, I have come from diary entries such as “I had a fluoride treatment today” to having written 46 publicly exposed blogs over the past 12 months. And if I do no more, I’ll consider it a success; but I’ll keep on trying. As I said in my author bio when I wrote my first blog, “I am on a learning journey. Learning about myself, learning about writing, learning about life. And every day, I’m practicing.” Still true.