I march to my own beat!
Oh, quiet all of you who know me well. Pick yourselves up off the floor, stop laughing, and let me explain this revelation.
Yes, it’s true … I’ve never done it the easy way. I’m the middle of 5 kids and if I wanted attention I needed to do something different. When everyone rolled their tongue (which is genetically impossible for me) I taught myself how to flip my tongue in odd directions. When my siblings would sing (which is sooo not one of my talents) I taught myself how to say the alphabet backwards. Then I memorized the original “Big Mac” (two all beef patties, special sauce..) song … backwards! I can say the tongue twister “How much wood can a woodchuck chuck?” and switch the chucks for the woods and woods for the chucks “How much chuck can a chuckwood chuck?” kind of thing. (I can still recite the list of prepositions we had to memorize in 7th grade! I’m such a geek.)
When I went to college I ended up in a male dominated major. (Which was really fun.) One of three women in a 20 person oceanography class out in the middle of the ocean studying squid is an absolute blast with all that testosterone flying. And so as not to be bested by the guys, I pushed myself to not only succeed, but rose to the top of my graduating class.
Yeah, I’ve always done it my own way.
But then I had kids and I wanted to be like all the other moms. Just bake cookies and do Girl and Boyscouts, go to the kid’s plays and sporting events. I chose to step back and let the kids shine. I had part-time jobs that kept me out and about … and sane. I would have liked things to go this way. I was very happy.
But life had other plans for me. Enter multiple sclerosis.
For about 10 years following the diagnosis, nothing in my life changed save for the many doctor’s appointments. I will be forever grateful I had the younger years with my children as a vigorous and healthy mom. But then, just as I was looking ahead at a job I loved and a house with young adults, my disease reared its ugly head.
I had to give up my teaching job. I still cry about the loss. I absolutely loved teaching. It was the job of my heart.
But I’m a firm believer in making lemonade.
So, the door closed and I opened a window. My mobility continues to become difficult. I use an electric wheelchair a lot of the time and I walk with a cane … and not well. (Think Aunt Martha with 3 too many glasses of sherry. 😉 ) Anyway, I wasn’t going to sit home and twiddle my thumbs. I want to be responsible for myself which meant I needed to find something I could do that didn’t require anything more than my hands and my mind, but bring in some income.
See, when you hear the story of most writers they talk about how they started writing when they were in elementary school. How stories chased them until they finally sat down and put pen to paper. Now they eek out writing time around jobs and children and other mom duties. Man, do I admire them. Those authors when asked if they would stop writing if they won the lottery said “no way, I’d just have more time to write!”
That is so not me.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have always loved to write. But not things that required my imagination. I LOVE research and writing papers that compare and contrast. I spent 3 months doing a research paper on Ernest Hemingway that most of my high school classmates did in two weeks. In college I loved the science classes where we had to do scientific papers on animals or fishing industries.
Yeah, I’m sick like that.
But the kind of writing I’m doing now is a whole different ballgame. I have to dig deep within myself to let the story free. After nearly seven years, I’m finding it’s getting harder, not easier. But I’m learning what works for me. And that’s what it is for me … a learning process. But see, as I get older, I’m figuring out what makes me tick. I can’t change how I’m wired. I love to figure things out, set them in logical order and present them in a way that makes sense to everyone. It’s why I loved teaching. Taking something ordinary and presenting it in a way that makes people step back and say “wow, I never thought of it that way”.
I guess that’s why I’m so drawn to the suspense end of writing. It’s like putting a puzzle together. How can I give you, the reader, the corner pieces and a couple of edge pieces and then begin filling in the middle, carrying you along as the picture comes to life, without giving it all away. Then springing an ending on you that perhaps you had suspected, but totally weren’t expecting.
Now, that’s a challenge and one I realize … I’m really enjoying!
Whew! You know … it’s nice to have figured this all out. Since this looks like the direction my life is headed (and happily I travel this path) I’m glad to have gotten it all sorted out. Thanks again for letting me ramble.