The writing bug bit me way back in third grade when I won a prize for my short story, “A Boot Dinner With Seaweed Sauce.” (Don’t ask!) I remember the flush of pride that swept through me when Mrs. Hitchcock announced my name and invited me to read the story to the entire class.
From the moment the black letters of the alphabet turned into something other than a jumbled code, I read everything I could get my hands on. Highlights magazine, Jack & Jill, but my favorites were chapter books. Once I’d polished off all the first grade level books, I remember begging the mean librarian to let me advance into the next shelf and my absolute despair at her refusal.
My parents smiled at my aspirations and around age 9 they gifted me with a typewriter. At the time I was racing through Beverly Cleary’s series of children’s books about Henry Huggins. Now that I had a typewriter I was going to become an author I decided. I proudly inserted the first sheet of onionskin paper into the roller, and typed the title, “Billy Braggins.”
I typed a few sentences, then a couple of paragraphs. My memory fails me now as to what they actually were about. But I do remember stopping before I’d reached the bottom of the page. I chewed my lip. What should Billy Braggins do? Where would he go? Who were his friends? I didn’t know enough to write a book, I thought. Writer’s block already at nine years old!
I didn’t let that stop me of course. Over the subsequent years I penned several stories and a lot of bad poetry. And I continued to consume novel after novel. I just knew I would become a famous novelist someday. I just had to live a little more to get some good stories to tell.
When I entered college I declared a major of literature and creative writing. I imagined it would only take a few years before I wrote a best seller.
But my writing sucked. At least I thought it did.
The Universe threw my plans a curve ball when my mother became sick with cancer and I dropped out of school to care for her. After her untimely death I found myself pregnant within three months and my life took a definite detour away from college and dreaming and toward single motherhood and food stamps.
Once Ciel was born the bad poems and the stack of journals were stuffed in a box, not to be rediscovered for years. I got busy being a Mom. I had moved to a new community and made many new friends – none of whom were writers. I became interested in herbs, women’s empowerment and natural healing and opened a retail store.
For 19 years the only writing I did was the intermittent journal entry and articles for the store newsletter, which I sweated over even though I wanted to write them. Occasionally I’d remember my novelist dream and resolve that ‘someday’ it would happen.
It’s been seven years since I sold that business in part to pursue this lifelong dream of writing. And sure, I’ve been writing. Lots and lots of writing exercises. I’ve published herbal articles (written on a volunteer basis for our small town newspaper), and a several articles for the environmental newsletter I edited for a few years.
And I’m blogging. And enjoying that a lot But I can’t seem to break through this invisible barrier and gain that confidence to write something of substance. When I decided to sell the store I wrote an affirmation on a piece of paper and stuck it on my special altar. It said, “Make money writing.” That is what I wanted to manifest.
So, when a blogging buddy, Fran Sorin, raved about how her writing and writing confidence had improved through a course she just completed called Damn Fine Words, my interest was piqued. She’d loved the course so much she wanted to take it again! I’d heard of James Chartrand the instructor and author of the blog Men with Pens. Of course I thought she was a guy – but guess what? She’s a woman. Even better.
I clicked through to Damn Fine Words and my heart raced as I scrolled through the description of the course. This looked just right. Build my confidence and hone my writing skills at the same time. Perhaps that invisible barrier could finally be dissolved.
At first I wondered if the course wasn’t meant for folks who already had some writing background. But Fran’s a published garden writer, and she’s ready to take the course a second time. There’s go to be something really good going on here.
Maybe this is it! I thought excitedly. It fits right in with my current goal to build up an online business based on my blog.But then my heart sank when I saw the price tag. Wa-aay out of my range right now. Well, damn.
Back to the drawing board…er, keyboard that is.
But guess what? When I opened my Google Reader today right there are the very top was a post about the Damn Fine Words writing contest. And it fits right in with my commitment to write something each day on this blog. What serendipity! Often I don’t even make it through all the articles in my RSS, or even check it at all. I’m hoping the angels dropped this for me at just the right juncture in my life. Wish me luck!