A Writing Journey: How It Started, Stopped, and Started Again
The Southern summer day was sizzling, and I was ten years old. In the years before air-conditioning was standard, all windows and doors in our house were open, welcoming the slightest breeze that never came. Fans whirred in occupied rooms. My sister, the non-reader in the family, was in her bedroom practicing different hairstyles, staring judgmentally at her mirrored image. I was sprawled across my bed reading Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin.
Already a fan of the movie starring Shirley Temple, I was thoroughly enjoying the book, particularly delighting in the poetic chapter titles like A Difference in Hearts, Wisdom’s Ways, Color of Roses, and Gray Days and Gold.
I twirled my hair, stared at the ceiling, and allowed the chapter titles to conjure up images in my mind. I saw gray winter days and golden autumn ones, people who were once in love but no longer in love, a parent advising a wayward child, and the myriad of colors in my father’s garden.
Pulling myself from my daydreams, I grabbed a pencil and notebook and started writing. I wrote, erased, wrote, erased, and wrote some more. Time did not exist. The stifling heat disappeared. I didn’t hear my sister’s whining about the chores I needed to do. Lunchtime passed without notice.
The pencil and paper transported me to a different time and place, somewhere I’d never been before; a special place I never wanted to leave.
At the end of nearly three hours, I had 31 poems for the 31 chapters in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. I don’t have them now and wish I did as I wonder what my 10-year-old mind conjured up.
That was the day I started writing. Essays and papers, once a drag in school, became my shining moments. I gleefully read my compositions in my classroom and before other classes where I was invited to share my work and even a few times before the assembled school body. I composed Christmas poems, odes to friends, and, as years and politics wore heavy on me, Vietnam protest poetry.
In college, my creative writing slowed to a trickle, replaced by ponderous papers and long hours of reading. Leaving school due to finances, I was quickly mired in the working world, putting in as many overtime hours as could be had to pay the bills that accumulated quicker than I got paid.
Later, marriage zapped even more of my writing time. We moved to the suburbs of a large metropolitan city, forcing me to commute three hours a day. Time didn’t exist for what I loved and wanted to do — write.
We moved to another state and lived in the country. More years passed. Marital woes and family tribulations grabbed the few moments not spent working or caring for our growing brood of rescue animals. My writing was limited to business letters at work and letters to my congressional representatives about all the political and social issues that plagued my mind.
Not until I started anew at the half- century mark of life did I think about what I wanted to do, what interested me. Writing came to mind but so did many new interests. And, what creative self-confidence I once had was long gone. My attention went to other pursuits until November 2016.
Post-election depression was deep and broad. I said sayonara to Facebook, stopped socializing outside of family, and spent my time reading anything that I could not relate to what was happening in the world around me.
Then, along came Medium.
I don’t know how I found Medium or how it found me. Not one memory remains of how our relationship began. I know I was shy, testing the waters with caution, reading with no commitment to write, observing but not participating, learning how to navigate this new world, soaking up inspiration. I followed people and publications, commenting often.
My dormant creativity stretched and yawned like Rip Van Winkle. Soon I was writing again — a little, then more. I joined a writing challenge. People began to follow me. I was invited to write for publications. Finally, after 52 years, I was writing, really writing!
I am not a great writer. Probably never will be. I once dreamed of being a professional writer, but now I am content with writing when I can and publishing on Medium where the comments and claps motivate me to write again tomorrow. Thankfully, my writing doesn’t have to pay my bills nor would I want it to.
There is not enough praise that I can shower on this writing platform or on the people who use it and astound me daily with their talent and imagination. There is not enough gratitude that I can express for my Medium followers and cheerleaders. My tribe is on Medium.
This is my writing journey. What is yours?
I would enjoy reading how you began writing. Were you a kid, a teenager, or as old as me? Did someone inspire you? How long have you been scribbling in notebooks and tapping keys?
How did you discover Medium? Did someone suggest it? Did you spot an ad? What started your relationship?