Even though I was always interested in writing, from the time I could put crayon to lined paper, it took me years to actually consider that it could be more than just a hobby, more than sharing my rhyming or free verse drivel with friends. Prior to moving to Long Island, I worked as a secretary/receptionist at an attorneys’ office, but once I moved to Long Island, due to marriage, I first took care of three children whose mother had died much too young of cancer; they are still a very big part of my life. I then had my own children. I loved being a mother, but I also wanted to do more with my life. I really wanted to be a writer, but I felt that could be nothing more than a dream. For me, writers were on some unreachable pedestal. So, instead of going after my dream, I avoided it and tried to find something else to inspire me. I thought interior designing was a possibility, but after one initial introductory class, I found I didn’t have the passion for it. People in the class were chatting about window treatments and placement of console tables — all of it boring me to distraction.
Then, my husband, from whom I am now divorce, started his own business and needed a receptionist/secretary. I said no. And even though he begged me, I kept saying no. But he eventually wore me down and I finally agreed to work for him part-time, even though his accountant at the time ticked me off when he said it was the wife’s duty to help her husband. It’s amazing that I lasted several months before I quit. It just wasn’t working out since I had to find a babysitter for my babies and that didn’t sit well with me; well, that, and the accountant’s misogynistic comment. However, I couldn’t stop thinking about writing, but I didn’t know where to begin. So I dipped my toe in the water, so to speak, and signed up for some college courses. It wasn’t easy with small children, but other women did it, so I figured I could, too. I also started going to author events, literary teas, and writers’ conferences, immersing myself in that world. Here’s an entry from those earlier days:
Went to Borders Bookstore* tonight. There was an open mic. I finally got up and read two poems I wrote: Written Word and Mr. Preacher Man. I blushed and trembled and even messed up a line. I felt pathetic. Afterward, I went to the register to buy a wonderful art book on Van Gogh for a mere $20. A nice collector’s edition. Anyway, one of the staff was there and he mentioned that he heard me read and liked it a lot. It certainly made me feel better, even though I want to flog myself.
As you can see, my confidence was still wanting, but at least I took that brave step of being willing to open myself to ridicule, and maybe even praise, which is something every writer must be willing to do.
*This was before I worked at Borders Books & Music but was a faithful patron.