We all have a story to tell. Some of us will tell that story with music, some with art, some with poetry, some with a garden, others with photography, and some with the written word.
My story began when I was a little girl. I was fascinated by books. My parents bought me books. I was in love with Snoopy’s book. I wanted a typewriter. I wanted to write stories. I could read well before I started kindergarten and I think it’s because I loved stories. I’ve passed that down to my children and my grandson who is only two years old will hand you a book and tell you “read.” We’re a bunch of bookworms around here.
What really upped the ante when it came to my love affair with books was when my father died when I was seven years old. Lost in grief, I turned to books. I could pretend I was a character in the book. Pretend that I was anyone except the little girl who had lost her father. Getting lost in the characters of books wasn’t enough though. I began writing about a little girl who saved her father. Then I wrote a story about a father who turned into a guardian angel. I don’t remember every story I wrote back then, that was forty years ago, but the one I remember the most was about a kingdom of magical people who were hidden from the rest of the world. A little girl loses her father and while she’s picking flowers in a garden she finds a hidden doorway. The doorway leads to the kingdom of magical people and she finds her father there. He is a prince there and he tells her that she mustn’t tell anyone, that it’s their secret. If people knew about the magical kingdom everyone who ever lost someone would come there in droves and the kingdom would no longer be hidden, and the magic would die.
In elementary school I was in one library or the other all the time. I was the kid who always turned their books in late because I got so wrapped up in the seven to ten books I was reading I forgot when they were due back. My mother fussed about the late fees, but I think she was happy that I’d finally stopped locking myself in my room with a book and was out and about in the real world again. By the fifth grade I was reading adult books like Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, which my 5th grade teacher Mrs. Whittet introduced to us. I was hooked. Mr. King wrote stories like a real story teller and I fell right into the world of the book, like Alice in the rabbit hole. I remember sneaking my mom’s copy of Carrie out of her bookcase and going to my room so I could read it under my covers with a flashlight. Hooked, I tell you, hooked.
When I was in high school I took journalism and was on the newspaper staff. I loved it. I went to the football games, wrestling matches, soccer games, and other school functions and borrowed my (step) Dad’s expensive Yashica camera and took pictures and took notes and then wrote stories for the school newspaper. I went to the University of South Carolina and toured their campus, including their journalism building. I dreamed of a journalism scholarship. And i got one, but it was only a partial one and things were rough back then (in the mid 80s) and we couldn’t afford the difference so I went to work full time at a bank. I told myself I didn’t need college. I’d graduated from high school, which was more than either of my three parents (my mom, my father, and my (step) dad) had done. I was ahead of the game. Besides, I told myself, I can always go to college later. (The longer you wait the harder it gets…)
I went to college in my early 30s. I didn’t finish. I had to drop out for various reasons: as a single parent I needed to work more hours, or I needed the benefits so they could get braces, or I was having a hard time juggling everything, etc…Back to work full time I went, deferring my dream. I also deferred my dream of writing, not just college.
Two years ago when my husband (then fiance) and I were writing our vows, he said. “I ought to put a part in there about how I promise to move you and your books for the rest of my life…” and he did. Part of the reason he mentioned it is because he helped me and my daughter move two bookcases into my apartment on our first date. And he moved those same bookcases twice more, including all the books that go in those bookcases… Now we’re in our home and those bookcases, along with the other two I have, have been moved around our home several times and he never complains, just jokes about keeping his vows.
Now as I sit in front of my computer screen typing this post I am reminded of why it is so important not to give up on your dreams. I’m writing a novel. Yes, I said that. I. Am. Writing. A. Novel. I am pursuing my dream. You’re never too old to pursue your dream(s). That little girl who turned to books out of grief and despair still resides inside me, pushing me forward to write that book. To pursue our dream. I carry her with me.
There will be people in your life who will try to knock you down, make you question your dreams, make you feel unworthy, and there are those who will support and inspire you. Push you to do more, to do better, to be more. I know, I’ve had both kind of people in my life at one time or the other. I am blessed that my husband is the kind of person who pushes me to do more, be more, and he makes me a better person and still strive to be even better, to push even harder. To be inspired to write, motivated to write, and writing, especially good writing, is hard work, is such a wonderful thing. Don’t let anyone ever make you feel like you should give up on your dream, don’t let anyone push you to give up on a dream.
It’s time for me to end this story, the little girl inside me is waving a book at me telling me it’s time to go back to writing my novel…