In order to gain insight and a belief in my ability and intent to write, I have sought out the work of local authors to make it feel more human to me and thus more possible. Here in San Diego, novelist Margaret Dilloway and non-fiction, self-help author Debbie Ford have both been of interest, and I recently read "The Red Skirt Memoirs of an Ex Nun," by Patricia O'Donnell-Gibson, from whom we bought our house in Michigan, although I never met her personally. Through Facebook, I've also renewed friendships with those from high school who have successfully made writing their career. My friends Kitty Broihier and Sondra Dee Garrison actually spent time honing their craft in college, whereas I have little more than an excellent high school English department to bank on (thank you, SJHS and Mrs. Nealer, much as I may have despised it at the time, and Mr. Hop, who inspired and encouraged me and so many others, including my step-daughter the year he retired), and I have always operated at my own speed, especially when it comes to believing in myself.
There's a saying by Dr. Seuss, "Why fit in when you were born to stand out?" Well, I've spent my entire life trying and feeling as though I failed to fit in, fighting that fact and vacillating between being proud and feeling bad that I'm just different. I have always enjoyed the spotlight, while others may shy away from it and look at me as though I'm an alien. I was a single mom before all the celebrities were doing it. I certainly didn't fit the mold of the corporate employee when I worked at Whirlpool. I have enjoyed having standard poodles because of the attention they attract since people don't see them every day (and the no slobbering and no shedding parts, which kinda rock). And I've had to relearn practically everything about parenting that was successful with our daughters, because our son is a different creature with unique needs. And it only took me six years to make that boy; later in life when anybody my age with any sense was finished building their families. Let's face it; times they have a'changed very much so from when we raised our girls. Did I say I have always operated at my own speed? There was a reason I was dubbed The Poky Puppy in Kindergarten, and I’m stubborn, too.
It isn't as though people have told me my whole life that I'm not worthy; quite the opposite, in fact. The spotlight I enjoyed so much when I was younger came from my singing, for which I received a lot of appreciation, support and encouragement. But it's almost as if singing was too easy. My words were different. They were personal, and they were my (crazy?) thoughts and feelings...things I was afraid to put out there for the world to see. I did have teachers who encouraged me about writing, from as far back as grade school. I can vividly remember Mrs. Schroeder telling me in fifth grade how descriptive my writing was. And during one of the most difficult times in my life, working in corporate America and so not fitting in, a communications consultant I'd befriended told me that I had the ability to impact people someday. College just never happened, but motherhood did, and years of keeping my words to myself made any confidence I may have once had falter. I occasionally showed my daughters bits of my writing and they liked it, but what else could they say? What if everybody my whole life was just humoring me? I mean, watch American Idol auditions for five minutes and you realize there are plenty of people whose families delude them into thinking they’re great.
Well this is me. Operating at my own speed. In my forties, I'm finally coming to accept that maybe I don't have to be Special, I just have to be Willing. Everything I write doesn't have to be Brilliant, it just has to be Good, and it's OK to do it just for myself. Writing daily does seem to be having a positive effect on quieting my mind, and that's a good thing. At some point, however, I have to be willing to risk rejection, to risk people rolling their eyes and thinking, "Who does she think she is?" (Probably my worst fear and what has paralyzed me more than anything else over the years.) In the meantime, if you get something from what I write, GREAT! If not, as my very encouraging friend and “writing colleague,” Sondra Dee Garrison said, "There's plenty to go around." There exists something out there that will resonate with you, and in turn, what I write will surely resonate with someone. Anyone? Hello?
Check out the Blogrolls here. Cross-posted to West Coast Posse, which will be home in April.