I have all sorts of science fiction pictures in my head due to that title. I’m glad you missed me, those of you who have commented. I have been going through a time of self-rediscovery. I have, for as much of my lifetime as I can remember, wanted to be a writer. And some of the time I actually was. I have been a family entertainer with short stories, the one in fifth grade who wrote the six page story rather than the one or two pages required.
I have been a high school journalist, editor of the paper, even winning an award for an editorial about the Bicentenniel. (Not sure I should have given that time frame….)
I have been a college journalist, quitting halfway through the program because Elvis died. Seriously. I watched the interview with his barely-holding-it-together brother who somehow managed to maintain his dignity in the worst moment of his life. There was a lull in the q and a, then the reporter said, “How are you feeling right now?” I let out a primal yell and charged the television, turning it off. I determined then that if those were the sorts of questions required of a journalist, I had no interest in it. I went into education instead, determining that writing was my hobby, not my vocation.
Except I didn’t write. Oh, some poetry, some really great letters, especially back and forth with my best friend and my dad. But nothing else. I mean, what was the point? This was pre-blog — it seems like pre-everything.
Then one day – in church of all places – some words came to my mind and I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote them down. “It was raining the day Dinny and I buried our father.” What?? I don’t remember a conscious thought before that, but I kept writing, a long paragraph that became the opening of my first novel. It was a western, a novella really, about two brothers who make their way in the world, facing some adventures – funny and scary – along the way. My kids loved it. I shared it with some friends and family and they loved it. What an ego trip.
After that, I wrote two more books about the two brothers. My test audience was very approving. What followed was a modern-day story about a teen boy whose parents are killed and his experience of trying to solve the mystery of what happened to them. That one has been read to several middle school test audiences who are NOT told who the author is until it’s over. It has been pronounced “cool” and “tight” and “rad” – all depending on the generation.
There are others in the drawer (about 14 all together) – all read by a very kind and supportive, albeit small, fan club. A Christian science fiction, a genre challenge by a family member and the only book to be read by someone outside the family. It was skewered. I didn’t write for awhile after that. A few westerns – all brother themed, a really fun mystery involving a girl detective and her dog, a scary book about a woman who thinks she’s being haunted by a man she accidentally killed, a trilogy of a family who immigrated from Ireland, a Christian book about a mysterious yellow house visited by people who think they died in a tornado, and – most recently – a story about a family of animals and how they save their people family from disaster.
That last one was written for my newest audience member. We finished reading it last night. The first comment was, “When is the next holiday that involves gifts?” Why? Because she wanted part 2 of her story…. Couldn’t ask for a better review than that.
I read a novel not too long ago about a writer in hiding who couldn’t stop writing, but couldn’t publish for obvious reasons. So he just put the finished novels in the drawer and started on the next one. That’s me, I guess. I’ve been bugged lately by people who say I should try to publish, to “get them out there.” That concept totally freaks me out, although I’m not sure why. Except for the fact that my writing is like therapy for me. There’s a story in there that MUST come out. But I’m not writing for the public — there’s a lot of stuff in there and NOT in there that the public would not be happy about. My standards have perhaps made me unpublishable.
So why do I continue to write? What is the direction?
I have absolutely no idea.
Except yesterday I got a glimmer of an idea of a bigger picture. Can’t say just yet, but we’ll keep that one on the ol’ back burner. It might amount to something – a direction – or it might amount to another manuscript in the dresser drawer.
But as long as my little audience is happy — and keeps stroking my story-telling ego — that will be enough.