Grateful

Sometimes life gets in the way and the best you can do is plug along. I am plugging along as best I can. This has been a rough week at our house. If I actually post this, it will be a minor miracle. 

That said, this being Thanksgiving, I am going to count my blessings.

What I am grateful for:

The opportunity to write everyday.

The love and support I receive from my husband. He encourages me to reach my goals and he is proud of me. He is the best partner for me and I really enjoy traveling through this world with him. I love you Michael.

Zoom. Zoom has provided me with a writing community. Being a part of a community of writers is integral to writing. Without Zoom, I don’t know how I would find that. 

My job. I really like my job. Yes, I like that it is part-time, enabling me to write full-time finally after all these years, but I just like it. I work with sincere and dedicated people. I have the opportunity to work on interesting projects and I am learning how to edit and write in a business setting. 

My daughter is in a good place. This is what we all want for our children. She has worked hard to make a wonderful life for herself and her new husband. I am so grateful for both of them and for their accomplishments. I am grateful that they have each other, that they are happy and that they are eager and curious about the world. I am especially grateful to be a part of their life.

I am so thankful to get to spend time with my Mom and Dad as they age. The conversations we have and the time we spend together are such a blessing. They continue to teach me things.

My friends and family who have my back. Ya’ll know who you are. You are the ones who believed in me when I was at my lowest point. You are the ones who never disappeared when I needed someone to trust and to trust me. You are the ones who stayed to celebrate my successes and encourage me to write. Thank you. I’ve got your back too. And I love you.

Books. 

Sunny days.

Laughter. 

All the joy in my life and there is so much of that now!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Oh, and also dogs. Of course, I am grateful for dogs.

My Yes Marble

Sometime around 1995 or ’96 I was taking a college course required to get my teaching certification. This particular course had little to do with the field of education. I don’t know why it was required but I’m glad it was. The course was all about curiosity and research. It was about data gathering and subjective inferring. I ate it up. I wish I could remember what the course was called and the professor’s name. 

What I do remember is that at the time I knew what I learned there would help me in the future as a writer. We were required to read a book called The Search for Emma’s Story: A Model for Humanities Detective Work by Marian L. Martinello. I have kept it all these years. As I look through it now, I am thinking it is time to re-read it. 

On one level, the book is the story of a woman named Emma Beckmann who lived her life in Albert, Texas in the late nineteenth century. This story was inspired by her wedding photo and the authors’ curiousity about Emma’s life. 

On a deeper, more universal level, the book tells the story of the research that took place in order to tell Emma’s story and how the author filled in the gaps of that story. This process can be used to explore any story. Start with an artifact and reconstruct a life. Fantastic! The book is a guide. I highly recommend it for anyone who writes historical fiction, family history or has an interest in genealogy.  

Clearly, this course impacted me deeply. A shout-out to the professor, I wish I could tell her how she has influenced me, one student. On the last day of the class, she passed around a box. The box was filled with marbles and we were told to take one. 

I chose my marble, small and black with little specks. It looks like the universe. Once we each held a marble in our hands, she explained that these were our “yes” marbles; that they were meant to serve as a reminder that when life offers an opportunity say “yes” and go for it! 

I still have my marble. It sits in the little dish on my dresser where I set my jewelry at night. My marble brings me joy! It is always there to remind me of possibility.  It tells me to say yes. It tells me to live! My marble tells me to write my stories, to run those miles, to love my people, to laugh and to sing in my terrible tone deaf voice! 

Professor whose name I cannot recall, thank you!

Martinello, Marian L. And Weinheimer, Ophelia Nielson. The Search for Emma’s Story: A Model for Humanities Detective Work, Texas Christian University Press, 1987.

Late Bloomer

I have always been a late bloomer. There’s that. 

DIARY WITH A GOLDEN KEY

My first memories of writing and of wanting to be a writer go back to the year 1969 when I was seven years old. I had a pink and white diary with a tiny gold key. I remember sitting on the edge of my bed in my grandmother’s house and writing in that diary. I remember deciding that I would be a writer. That room had white french provincial furniture with blue floral covers on the twin beds. The azalea bushes just outside the window were in full bloom creating buckets of fuchsia so it must’ve been springtime. 

JACK OF ALL TRADES

In college I was not an English major or a journalism major. That would’ve made too much sense. Instead, I focused on Latin American literature and Spanish. Not too far off, but still. Over the years I have studied a little bit of everything, eventually getting a master’s degree in Library and Information Science, again, not too far off. But I still wrote.

WORKING & WRITING

When I reached my twenties, I would get up early most morning before work to write. I was diligent. I found writing groups to join and workshops. I submitted short stories for publication. I collected lots of rejection slips, but I did have a few pieces in some very minor journals. My goal back then was to be able to write full time. That did not happen as I had hoped. I just plugged along writing when I could.

LIFE HAPPENS

At 31 I was suddenly a single mother. I put writing aside, deciding that my daughter was my “opus.” I would get back to it later. Decades went by. Sure, I would dabble now and then but that proved to be frustrating. Although I have always identified as a writer, I have not always pursued the act of writing. 

PRATICALITY VS CREATIVITY

Yeah, you can say that life got in the way. However, it’s more complicated than that. I have spent a lifetime battling between others telling me that I have to “be practical” and practicing my art. Like it’s one or the other. Both things can happen. All art forms are under-appreciated in our society. I lacked the confidence to stand up for myself as a creative.

STORIES TO TELL AND THE TOOLS TO TELL THEM

I knew a time would come when I would pick it up again. And I have. Here’s the thing; I have so much catching up to do. All those decades I was not studying my craft. I have so much to learn. I have, however, collected experiences. Because of all those years, I have lots of stories to tell. So many stories! The stories will go nowhere without the tools to tell them.

NEVER STOP LEARNING THE CRAFT

If I could talk to my younger self I would tell her not to stop writing, to at least continue reading everything possible about the craft. Acquire the tools. Now I have no choice but to study the craft every day, write like a crazy person, stay healthy and live a very long time because I have a great deal to say.