June 28, 2017
When I was about ten years old, I decided to write a script for my favorite television show of the day. I was the youngest of three children, with a mother who by then was a single mother who worked full time to support us. My mom was not affectionate by nature. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times she hugged me in my life. I didn’t understand at the time, of course, that some people simply aren’t able to show affection, even with their own children. My daddy had been one to hug and snuggle and read stories to me. But he was gone.
One of my fondest and earliest memories is being tucked into my bed in the winter by my daddy, who took my sheet and two blankets out to the space heater that was in our living room. He warmed each one, one at a time, and then tucked them around me. I was about five and still in a crib. I shared this bedroom with my parents, and my sister, so until my parents got a three-quarter bed that I could share with her, the crib was all there was space for in that tiny room.
To this day, I get a wonderful, cherished feeling whenever, being chilly, I’m comforted by a warm blanket.
My father died when I was eight and a half, and by the age of ten, I missed him keenly. I’d already learned that I couldn’t talk to mom about daddy. She’d either refuse to talk about him, or end up in tears. In later years—when I was 16 or so—she could talk about him some, but not then, not when I was ten. Her loss was still too new. At the time, my brother was twenty, and totally into the woman he was dating, the woman he would marry the next year (they just celebrated their fifty-second wedding anniversary). And my sister was too busy with her many “boyfriends” to pay me much mind. And when she did pay attention to me, it often didn’t work out well for me at all.
So, there I was, a ten-year-old child, lonely, hurting, and inwardly raging that life was unfair. Why not, then, create my own world, one that could be fair? I lost myself in writing, from that time forward. I made the mistake of showing my sister, once, something I had written (I kept trying with her, for all of our lives. It never worked out, but at least I know that I did what I could). That day, the day that I, full of hope, showed her my great screenplay, was the day when I learned that I have a very thin skin and that ridicule is nearly the most painful thing in life to endure.
Her ridicule didn’t stop me from writing, however; it only stopped me from sharing that writing with others—until well after I was married, in fact. When times became particularly difficult to endure, all through my life, my writing was there, a sanctuary for me, a place where I could lose myself, forget reality, and simply be. My ability to write is the greatest gift I’ve ever received, next to my family.
It took my becoming an adult who had an early heart attack at the age of 48 to consider that the time was right for me to do more than just escape into my own stories. Now, as a woman who has survived, so far, nearly fifteen years post-triple by-pass, as one with more than 50 novels published, I can see how all things have worked together to bring me to where I am today. And I can how see those times that were the hardest to bear in fact have ended up being blessings to me.
Nobody likes emotional pain. Loss is hard, no matter our age, or who (or what) we lose. If our heart has been engaged in the relationship, the loss of that loved one, even that beloved pet, hurts. No, no one likes emotional pain, and yet to some degree we all experience it. For me, emotion pain became the foundation for the development of empathy. Empathy is crucial if one is to be an author of works that move or touch other people.
It was never my goal to get rich writing. It was never my goal to become famous, writing. Did I imagine the pleasure of maybe, someday, stepping into a book store and seeing my book up on the shelf? Oh, most certainly. But not because it meant either fame, or fortune.
That joy would stem from a logical conclusion. If my books were on the shelf in a book store, that meant people were reading them. And if people were reading my words, then I had to be touching lives and/or moving hearts.
I’ve heard some wonderful stories from readers that have brought me to tears, because they’ve shared with me how my words have done just that—how my words have helped them.
That is my goal. That is my mission. That is my ministry.