How many interviews with authors do we hear their “confessions” of having loved to write since early childhood, of having always dreamed of writing a book? (What kind of confession is that? Okay, they feel vulnerable in the telling. Still, they got an early start!) My story is precisely the opposite–the thought of writing for fun or for any reason, of having anything at all to say other than penning flirty notes to a cute boy never crossed my mind.
If I hadn’t fallen in love with a long distance hottie when I was fourteen, and if he hadn’t kept my letters, and if I hadn’t married the boy, I’d have no notion or record whatsoever of my young girl thoughts. I’d have no recollection of voice or opinion, or curiosity. I didn’t journal or pen bad poetry as a teenager. I certainly was not an English major and I procrastinated taking a writing class until my final semester of college, which I took at a junior college at night so my GPA wouldn’t take a hit.
How bizarre it was then, that in my early 30’s I landed a run of well-paid collaborative writing contracts with celebrity authors. By sheer determination I learned to string words and sentences together. I became friends with the Strunk and White manual. I studied the architecture of books. I started reading everything I could find on how to write. I studied the intonation of the authors I wrote with. We sold A LOT of books. And that is why our local fiction writers club, The Bozeman Inkslingers didn’t believe me when I shyly confessed (a real confession) that I still didn’t know how to write… not in my own voice, anyway.
Even though I was well into the middle third of life, I was yet early in the process of finding voice and developing my craft. After struggling and stressing about having something life-giving to share, I quit trying to write for others, I even left the Inkslingers and closed the door on my playroom (with me on the inside). Finally I had freedom to indulge in wild ideas and emotions, and throw color at the page to see what might happen. I needed space for imagination. I needed to be little, unfettered and ridiculous.
Most of those pages were stunted–more boring than brilliant–absolutely not fit for human consumption. But slowly I became more daring with imagery and comparison, metaphor and dialog. Still new to the joy of discovery and truth telling, I grew into wanting my friends to join me in that space. Until now I’ve only invited in a few trusted confidantes. Slowly, slowly and with much prompting I want you to join us here too.
It is in this spirit, and when time allows, I am installing excerpts from my private journals and essays into these Collections. I hope you enjoy.
Forty-nine, but Who’s Counting?
So This is Fifty: Making it Count
A Writing Journal of Sorts