Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wednesday Writerly Ways~ The Uncalling

The call to be or do a particular something with your life is often known as " The Calling." While I received a "calling to be a minister, and many jobs I've had in my life, there has never been a calling or life-long dream to be an author.

In fact, English was my least liked subject in school. I was good at it like any other language I learned, but I much preferred mathematics or science to language arts. So is it a surprise that I'm a writer? It is to me.

When you ask most authors why they write you will get a variety of answers. The most frequent heard would have to be, "There was something in me that had to come out," or a variance of it. That isn't my story.  I wrote my feelings and impressions down in a journal. I wrote about my day as most children and teenager do. I actually did this in four languages to keep my writing skills up. Overkill, probably but it was how I retained things and memorized them. Not that my phono and photographic memory didn't do that too.

I wrote poetry for my classes and for my own enjoyment.  You see I was a control freak even back then. Rhyme, meter, and prose that could form a story with visual impact. In college it was term papers like "The Plagiarism of William Shakespeare" for English composition. It shook my teacher up. <g> I always wrote little storybooks as a child, but never envisioned myself as a writer.

So what changed? Well, I had a daughter diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA). I could not find out much about it in magazines or books except for medical abstracts. So I wrote from an anger perspective about having a daughter with this disease. Even though I wrote the articles and subsequently the nonfiction, I still didn't see myself as an author or writer.

In my mind, I was an angry parent with a child with a devastating disease that almost nothing was written about from a parent's perspective. Mommie, I Wish I'd Never Heard of Arfritis was born.Yes, I did type out a manuscript based on a longer version of each point I mentioned in my articles, but that's expansion not really an author, right? I sold my rights and royalties, present and future, to the Arthritis Foundation. Yes after thirty plus years, I still receive statements of charitable contributions for book sales. But I was a life flight nurse not a writer. That was my focus...my calling at the time. My true calling was to be a doctor, but with children at home I couldn't run off to med school. But I continues publishing articles mainly out of frustration because I couldn't find them and more books followed.

So spring ahead a decade, I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In other words a rooted severe depression. So what did the therapist have me do...journal with drawings. So once again I started writing. A lot of skeletons started popping out of my mental closet where they had lain buried for decades. I had already been raped, divorced, single mother of four, disabled, and a host of other life events. Was it any wonder I had PTSD? I'd had more things happen to me in thirty years than most people had happen to them in a lifetime.

I still didn't see myself as a writer. The main reason I wasn't was because I made my livelihood by other means. To be an author you spent hours in front of the typewriter pecking away and spent hours in the library doing research. To be an author, you had to recognized as such, have book launches and book signings. I had done none of that. I did have two agents assigned to me by publishers though. I didn't query or get rejected by either of them. It was a fluke. I wasn't really an author. I just wrote nonfiction from my point of view and unseen people bought it. I didn't feel like the authors who were seen everywhere. I wasn't rich and famous. Robin Leach wasn't banging on my door although I did have brief television and radio interviews.

So writing was my uncalling. I made good money as a international business consultant and as a chef. Meanwhile my journals I kept during therapy smoldered in the background. I decided to write novels because no one would believe that all these things could happen to one person in their life. My first novel was horrible. Even now, I cringe at the thought that it would be ever published. Fact is more terrifying than fiction in some cases.

I started writing about my experience in Ceylon. I was still learning the writing process and it was a break from the nonfiction I had been writing. Breaking ground on a new avenue for possible income, but I'd have to start from square one. This was something I'd never done before in writing. All of this because my father would only let me publish it as fiction. It was his only stipulation. I shopped it around to agents and publishers only to be rejected. So I put it in a drawer for five years and wrote other things.

I liked the way writing stories around the skeletons in my closet made me feel so I wrote another manuscript, then another and so on. Meanwhile I joined to several critique groups and writing groups to hone my skills. Writing was never meant to be a full time job. It was something to do in my spare time. It was fun creating and exorcising demons. I felt better about my life because of it. I got satisfaction from writing. Then came the advent of indie publishing which was a rejuvenated and reconstructed form of vanity press. The rest is history for the uncalled author.

So why do you write?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.


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