It was not in the cards for me to do something with my life that required a certain amount of education. Far from being a scholar, I had no desire to be academic. School from K-12 was difficult for me, to say the least. I would have been happier locked away in my room eating dry Cheerios. School hurt. I was shy, timid, introverted, and oh so sensitive. My little feelings could be crushed with one misperceived facial expression from a teacher or peer. I squirmed my way through my school days hiding from everyone. I could literally squish myself down to a being so tiny no one noticed me. The best hiding place I found happened to be behind the spread of an open book. And thank God for that! Reading saved my hide and mind.
I think it might have been the third grade when we could order books from a little catalog once a month. Without money to spare, my dear mother saw to it that I chose at least two each time. Nancy Drew became my superwoman/girl. Oh how I wished to be her. She acted fearless beyond belief and was she ever shrewd. Later on, someone gave us a set of Hardy Boys mysteries. After that I read old copies of The Boxcar Children® and the Five Little Peppers that my mother discovered in a dusty cardboard box. There’s been what feels like a zillion books since.
Flash forward a bunch of years. Okay, many years, and there I am, almost 50 years old, sitting in the middle of our big bed, crying my eyes out, and writing my very first poem about my beloved horse that had recently died in a tragic accident. I explained about her the best I could and wrote of what she had given me in our years together. Every word came to me, ripped right out of my heart. Later, when I was not so blinded by tears and grief, I reread it and found myself pleasantly surprised to see that it read like a nice poem. Not great maybe, but pretty damn good.
I fell in love with western and cowboy poetry. The words and thoughts, the feeling of pastoral poems felt so personal to me. They fit my life style. I fit in the pictures they conjured. I found a place I belonged, and it felt like a homecoming for my heart. I read. I wrote. I attended poetry gatherings. I wrote. I shared! I had never spoken a single word before an audience. Was I terrified? Yep. But I did it anyway, and I know it stands as one of the bravest things I have ever done. As Dr. Phil might say, that was a changing point in my life.
In my writing life, some poems stretched their arms and became short stories. One poem and the short story which followed nagged me for more attention. There remained considerably more to say about the whole deal. There was more to be told about the people in my poem than a few pages could convey. I thought long and hard about my characters. I met them, listed them, made lists about them and watched them come alive. And I began to write my first novel. I now have two completed manuscripts and have begun on the third. I am sure I will always be writing something as long as I am able.
There is a broader reason for sharing this with you, other than hoping you may get acquainted with me and my writing life. I carry a message around inside myself that I would holler out randomly if I wasn’t afraid of the guys in white coats. I almost can’t stand to think how close I came to never realizing I could do something that matters so much to me. Please, if you are 15 or 50, whether it is a rising passion or a tiny seed of desire looking for the light, please grab every opportunity you can to own your aspiration. If that nervous, fearful little girl who struggled through school and stumbled along her trail for such a long time – if she can take leaps of faith – you can do it.