Monday, August 24, 2009

Do you write every day? Part One

Ok, so enough bookseller recommendations and thoughts for a while. Now I want to talk about writing. That's really why most bloggers are here, right? We love to -- no, need to -- write.

I started writing when I was eight years old. I can still remember the awful story I wrote about a girl who died and saw a path to heaven (yes -- it was that dreadful) . I ripped it into pieces and tossed in the wastebasket. Off and on throughout my school years, I wrote depressing stories and depressing poetry. In college, I went more for the urbane, sophisticated short stories. I thought I'd get published by The New Yorker. Ha. No publishing credits to my name, other than the college literary magazine, but I kept writing. Off and on. Off and on. I'd write furiously for a month or two, then stop writing for a few months or a year. (Get the picture yet?) In my twenties, I plugged away at short stories and started branching out into essays. Rejection letters began to pile up in earnest. Still I wrote off and on. A few months off. A few months on.

I married at 30 and my first son was born when I was 32. That's when I started trying to write children's books, specifically picture books. I collected more rejection letters and long before my second son was born (when I was 35), I had given up. Kaput. No more.

Most of the time I was too exhausted to clean the house, let alone write picture books. I've never understood how mothers of young children can also write. Maybe if I'd kept up with the writing and stopped worrying about cleaning the house, I'd be published by now.

I'd have a filthy house and probably be divorced, but I'd be published.

So it's a trade-off. I wouldn't take back those years of being a stay-at-home mom for anything. It was something I was actually good at (yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition, but you get the idea).

My sons are now in college, I've been working at the bookstore for seven years, and I've been writing on a regular basis for two years. What changed? It's simple. I survived a life-threatening illness in 2005. Nothing like a brain aneurysm to help you see the light. Once I'd recuperated to the point where I felt like myself again (in 2007), I told myself: if you're ever going to realize your dream of writing children's books, you need to sit down and write. Right?

To be continued...

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