In sixth grade, my English teacher gave the assignment to write a short story, and I had so much fun writing about a little girl who discovered an underground cat colony, that I turned in a 60-page illustrated (by my Dad) novel instead!
From then on, I was hooked.
I took creative writing classes in high school and felt totally in my element. When I got to college, I let the story-making go but when I began teaching second grade (1978-1984), I found myself writing short stories, one per week, each one featuring one of my students and some of their interests. That was fun AND they got inspired to do more reading!
Years later—after leaving teaching and entering the corporate world of educational consulting, and then raising a stepfamily with my husband—I sat down at the computer and started making up stories again. A character would flash into my mind, or a simple sentence would make itself heard, and I’d start with that and see where it took me.
In 2015, I took a course with author Jennifer Louden called “Get Your Scary Sh*t Done” and my life has never been the same. At that time, I had half of my Dragonflies at Night novel written but didn’t know where to go with it. Also, I didn’t know if I COULD actually write an entire novel, plus self-doubt was holding me back. But… finish it I did! And I’ve been finding the joy in writing fiction “for real” ever since.
When I make up stories I can go anywhere; I can put myself in anyone’s shoes and feel their feelings; I can tell their tales and perhaps inspire others with similar feelings or in similar situations.
That’s what I hope will happen with my latest novel, Sea Glass Memories, which launches October 10, 2023. The main characters, Elana Jeffries and (Aunt) Kit Gilmore, have both experienced loss and Elana leans on Aunt Kit’s wisdom and experience so she can become more in touch with her sorrow, and is able to open to new possibilities.
Grief is a tricky thing to write about, and I’ll be honest— it wasn’t always fun to let Elana (and Aunt Kit in her flashbacks) have their anguish, but easing into hope and possibility for each of them has been truly a joy.
Have you ever experienced a tearing, despairing grief? How did you widen your heart and your thoughts to make space for that grief?
I find this book extremely helpful whenever I am facing deep sadness and loss: How to Carry What Can’t Be Fixed, by Megan Devine.
When I’m making up stories, I can go anywhere, put myself in anyone’s shoes, feel their feelings, tell their tales with love and grace.