I have been dreaming of selling my (writing) work for more than 40 years. I know that it is true because I have known my husband for more than 40 years and he has confirmed that he noticed a copy of the Writer’s Digest magazine and other writing “tools” in my possession shortly after he met me. I can’t really explain why I allowed one rejection letter to keep me from finishing more work and sending it out for queries.
In 1994, I purchased the “Writer’s Market” directory…probably full-price. I don’t know what I was thinking since at the time I had a toddler and was thinking of getting pregnant again. I am happy to say that the second baby is now 24 years old and her older brother will turn 28 tomorrow. That part of my life (parenting) has been satisfied, I cannot say that it had been a lifelong ambition, but I can say without any hesitation that my children bring me immense joy and satisfaction. I am proud of them as human beings and count them among the pinnacle of my “success”.
I had an older sister who was always (silently) competing with me. I am not sure that I was as aware of it when she was alive than I have been in the almost 18 months since she died. My brother was the one who had the (doubtful) pleasure of clearing out her belongings from the ashram in Iowa where she last lived and although I asked him whether he found any material worth publishing, all he found really were her journals in which she wrote sporadically. I have no interest in looking those over because there is no reason for me to believe her journals tell a different (honest) story than the one she tried to convince us was her reality.
It was about 6 years ago that she ran out of personal projects (becoming a distance- healer was the latest) that she latched on to mine. I have taken on (and quit at the appropriate time) a number of projects that have included being president of a local chamber of tourism, homeschooling my children, hosting radio shows, taking music lessons, blogging, etc. Right now I am in the process of concluding my last 18 months as treasurer of an important local organization for Senior Citizens which will finally conclude (for me personally) my need to contribute to my community. After that (June 2021), I will feel that I have done what I need to do and can get on with my desire to do something (or nothing) for the rest of my days.
I tell people that the stories I want to write are the ones I would like to read. What would I like to read? Mature love stories that are full of deep love and longing but not graphic sex scenes. Is there any interest out there for that? I cannot know until I write and begin to pitch it for publication. I am hopeful that my Ideal Reader (IR) will be someone like me. Since I consider myself a pretty middle of the road person who has many counterparts, I hope I will be successful. I just need to eke out the time and get to it.
I blog quite a bit but on different topics. Now is the time I need to begin to focus on writing my story, developing my characters, seeking my ideal readers. It’s all doable!
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“Wait a minute”, she said to me,”do you mean to tell me that you don’t get paid for the work you do in the Chamber of Commerce?”
The minute she finished the sentence I realized why the townspeople resented me for the work I was doing. They thought I was getting a salary. They thought that was the reason I felt compelled to knock door to door seeking “volunteers” to help me set up the tables for the upcoming fair. It never occurred to me and now my naivety disturbs and embarrasses me. Why in the world did I sign up for that job? Oh, yes, I remember now. I didn’t sign up, I felt coerced when one of the leaders of the group dug her nails into my leg when I politely declined to accept a non-paying position to help her win the town’s respect and perhaps an elected or appointed position in the municipal offices. How silly was I? I thought we were friends and the last thing I expected years later was to be stabbed in the back the minute I said no to something, meant it, and stood firm by my decision.
It has come to me as a revelation that I have many times in the course of my lifetime succumbed to other people’s directives whenever the mere suggestion of physical harm appeared. I don’t know when that began happening to me. As a child, my parents were rarely violent, I can not recall my father ever hitting me and my mother’s infrequent use of force to coerce me to do anything was limited and should not have been the reason for this unreasonable acquiescence even in my adulthood.
I can only explain it one way. I attended a catholic (nun-run) grammar and high school. The teachers all had some quirk, the nuns had plenty of their own and although they should have been the models of kindness, generosity, good humor, etc. it was not unusual to see the nuns distributing hurtful remarks and random physical harm on students. I remember seeing one of the nuns box a classmates ears when he didn’t stop talking after she asked him to. I can understand getting punished by losing a grade point, let’s say, or having your parents come to school for a conference that involved telling on you, but the physical harm done to my classmate was strangely unnerving and made a mark on me.
My older sister was also pretty generous with fisticuffs. I did my best to stay out of her way and made sure I never told on her to my parents or things would have been even worse for me. I always wondered what happened to make her so unkind? I was almost 3 years younger and can’t know if between the years 0-3 she experienced so much trauma that all that was left was for her to act as she had been treated even though she should have known better. She died before I ever had a chance to bring it up, but I doubt I would have done so anyway, we were not close at the end. I am working on summoning empathy or sympathy or even grief…that is how distant our lives were. For the moment, I will accept and continue to live my life the way I have until now.
I have never been violent. If a fight or argument is developing anywhere near me, I panic and look for the nearest exit. I suppose one could label me a coward; I prefer to label myself a self-preserving pacifist.