Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday Musings: From The House Of My Faddah

This is on my newest coffee cup.

I was born, yonder, in the house of my Faddah. Wait, wrong origins. Sorry, I was channeling Tony Curtis’ character Myles, in The Black Shield of Falworth.

Still, it’s not too far removed from my origins as a storyteller. My father was a fabulous storyteller, as many Celtics can be. He would have made an excellent warrior bard. He entertained his children and wife with stories on many an evening. Hot summer nights we’d sit outside and do round robin stories with each of us taking turns. The story might have started as a dream Dad had, or something he saw from his travels, and he’d embellish it with details. Dad told his stories in installments. While Dad worked he’s be thinking up the next installment for us. We loved it.

The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. As kids, my brothers and I would also make up stories to act out in—‘let’s pretend’. We took turns making up adventures to play pretend and they, too, lasted days. A living adventure series. We couldn’t wait to get outside for the next adventure—which worked great for mama because we had to do our chores before we were free to play. Ah, waiting was agony for us!

My parents encouraged the free reign of imagination. There were many times Dad and Mom would get rid of the TV set, entirely—not a TV to be found at our house. Instead we were encourage to listen to or play music and we had tons of books to read, we are all good artists and crafters, great singers, and good conversationalists. And, we all can tell stories. J  

As long as I can remember, I’ve told stories. My mom still has some drawing from when I was 4 and 5—think comic book style—of stories I made up. Then came Barbies and more stories, only Barbie was rarely allowed to be a princess, mostly, she and the GI Joes (Gads, do you remember how wimpy looking Ken was?), were taking part in some kick ass adventure of discovery and danger.

I don’t think I consciously thought of writing as a career, but I did win contests as a kid for poetry and stories I did and some were even published. Any project I had in school had as much time spent on the creative words as the nuts and bolts of the project. I had teachers who encouraged me to develop my skills, but painting pictures with words was as natural as breathing for me. I figured everyone could do it and why were they making such big deal about it—until I got older.

College was the first time I actually considered writing. That was about the time I was taking some clinical psych courses that involved detailed journal entries of children and adults I dealt with. I always got A’s on that, not only for the applied technical content but also for telling a compelling story on each of my clients. Always, there had to be a story at the heart. My professors would always add on the comment page that I should really consider writing because I could paint pictures with words. About that time I was also working part-time with radio and newspapers writing up articles and in radio doing the scripts for commercials. Every job I’ve had used my writing skills. It’s something I’m good at.

I have various notebooks filled with stories and several complete novels written. They were fun to write—it was always something I did on the side and it fed my creative side just as much as music and art do. Frankly, my life was so full I simply didn’t have time to pursue publication for fiction. I had a demanding high power job that consumed most of my time and utilized much of my creativity. I hardly had any inspiration left over, although I still wrote fiction. 

I moved from the San Francisco area, settled in Missouri, to be near my family. I left behind the corporate world for a different sort of life. Fulfilling dreams of being a mom and ranching, raising hay, vegetables, creating flower gardens, horses and Great Danes.  My life is still full, fulfilling, but in a different way. Much of my storytelling was channeled towards my son, but still...I found myself thinking much more about my writing.  There are a lot of stories out here beyond the back forty.

Friends and a few family members who had read my stories urged (okay, browbeat) me to move forward with it. Finally, I decided to enter one of my stories in a contest a few years ago (2007). I placed at the top 25%. I decided to query them. Got some positive feedback and joined a writing group which I’m still part of. All this showed me just how much I didn’t know about this business of writing. For me, that was unacceptable. The need to know has always a driving force for me. Knowledge of a path always gives me confidence to continue to walk it and if I get knocked down, the ability to dust off the dirt of the pratfall, stick a bandage on the boo-boos and move on.

I’ve spent the last few years learning about my craft. I’ve read and reviewed books to learn current market expectations, did judging gigs, experiment with various promotion platforms, and gained name recognition. In 2009 I created my blog. For me, it’s never been a race for followers (although I love them) but sharing other writers’ journeys, what they’ve faced and overcome. What they’re still overcoming despite their successes.

What’s next? That’s still work in progress and is still evolving. Definitely more writing, and the editing what I’ve already written and more querying.

From the house of my father to who I am today has been a living story. I’ve enjoyed it all.