Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Chasing Dreams

I knew at an early age that I wanted to write.

Maybe it was because I learned to read early, or maybe it was because I could lose myself in a story, but whatever the reason, words drew me as if I were being sucked into a vacuum.

Books saved me on many occasions by giving me an escape. They were also great fountains of knowledge, and I valued this. I even liked my math book, though I have never cared much for math.

I vividly remember the day I looked up from reading the local paper and told my mother that one day I would write for that publication. Only I would do it better, I said. I wouldn't have any of this "a little bird tells us" stuff that was often found in the paper at that time. That was in 1974; I was 11 years old

It was 1985, four years after I graduated high school, before I managed to get a byline in The Herald. My first piece was headlined "Making Shiloh Apple Butter" and it was about a church group using apple butter as a fundraiser.

I was ecstatic. I met my mother at Mike's Market (which used to be in Daleville where Bellacino's is now located) to show her the paper. I had fulfilled that dream, and apparently since I am still writing for the newspaper it became a calling, maybe a passion. I have had something published every year since, even when I was putting myself through college. These days I publish an average of 30 articles a month. I am nothing if not consistent.

But other dreams have not come to me quite so easily. I also want to write books. By this time in my life, as I sit here pondering middle age, I had hoped to have a poetry book of some kind published. Even just a little chapbook would be nice.

I also want to write fiction. I have several fiction novels about half written, another that is finished but it is handwritten and needs to be typed. They sit untouched in my computer or in drawers. They are no worse than some published stories I have read but I've never moved further with them.

I once thought I might write young adult fiction, a la Nancy Drew, perhaps, but alas, I have not. These days I doubt I could.

Or maybe I'd write a mainstream fiction book, like A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley.

Or maybe I would be another Phyllis Whitney, specializing in Gothic romance, a genre that seems to have completely vanished from the shelves. How I loved those books.

I never thought that at 45 I would be writing only newspaper articles. Or that I would be doing so many that I don't have time for anything else. Or that as I head toward my 46th birthday I would be wondering if I am burned out.

I never thought I'd have 875 posts on a blog, either, but here I am, making my 875th blog post. It's a lot of writing and I am greatly thankful for the relationships I have made through my blog. I am grateful for my loyal readers who seem to have found something here they like.

However, a blog is not a book.

Since my scare on February 20, which greatly highlighted my fear of dying at what is these days a relatively young age, I have been rethinking what I am doing.

I really *like* writing articles. I enjoy writing for the newspaper. I see it as a teaching position. It's a way for me to impart knowledge, to share what I have learned. It is for me a civic duty, a way to give back to the county and the nation that has done so much for me.

Plus, I do okay with it, and isn't it my responsibility to use my talent where it works?

What I don't know is when you stop. Even the Army lets you retire after some many years, and with a full pension. If I retire I will have no pension or no income. There is no safety net when you're an independent contractor, which is what I am.

I also am concerned that I have some innate issue with sticking with a long-term project. It's kind of like weight loss. I can see where I want to be but darned if I can figure out how to get there. I fear it is the same with something like a book. I can see the beginning and the end but can't slog my way through the middle.

Life is a long and interesting journey. I firmly believe it is not the end that matters, but the way we get there. I hope to make some changes in my life this year. I don't know yet what they will be. Maybe it will simply be an hour a day trying to write a piece of fiction. Maybe it will be weight loss and better health.

I am still thinking, still pondering, still wondering. My life is not a bad one - I can stay home and write in my jammies if I want. My husband loves me, and I love him and our marriage is sound and strong. I have a nice house and food to eat. I have much for which to be thankful, and so I am.

But I smell change on my horizon. I wonder where it will lead?


  1. Many years ago I met a psychic who gave me glimpses into my future. At the time I thought she was crazy, but since then many of her "predictions" did come to fruitation. One of the questions I asked was if I would ever be published. She said I would write for a newspaper, which I did, but my "crowning glory" would be a book, but that I wouldn't begin it until "my heart was opened" and it would be many years before that happened, but to be patient and that it would be up to me to realize when the time was right. I didn't understand at the time what that meant but it always stayed in the back of my mind. Although I would have preferred a different way for my "heart to be opened", last year I finally understood what she meant. It hasn't been easy reliving certain bad experiences but everything I write is coming from my heart. It'll be done when it's done and I won't force it because then it's no longer from my heart. I think you'll know when it's time for you too, but it's not something you can force. It'll come when the time is right for you, just open your heart to it.

  2. Anita, I am in awe of all that you have accomplished, with the 875 posts and the countless newspaper articles you've written. Think of all the people you have reached and influenced with your words! Not many writers can say that. And, speaking as a 51-year-old myself, 45 is young yet. Of course, none of us are promised tomorrow, but it is likely that you have many years of fine writing ahead. And we've all heard many stories of writers who publish their first books in their 50's and even 60's and 70's. That gives ME hope. And you have already taken the first steps towards your dream by recognizing a need for change, and by pondering your next steps. Whatever you decide to do, I wish you well and have every confidence that you have the tools and the energy and the abilities to accomplish your dream. I'm looking forward to hearing of the next step in your journey.

    And, by the way, I like your header and profile change. Nice!

  3. You go girl! I hope you will keep us posted along the way.

  4. I know exactly how you feel.

    Love the new header too!

  5. I really enjoy your blog. You have good rhythm, and your words aren't wordy. Does that make sense? When I read them I feel like I'm inside your head. It's challenging to write and juggle life. Richard Peck says that we write by the light of the fire of the bridges burning behind us.
    Why not set a smaller goal for yourself, like finishing one chapter in your novel per week or every two weeks. That way you aren't so overwhelmed with loose ends. I can't wait until it's published. I'll be the first in line at your signing.

  6. I do relate to this in many ways. I want to write something enduring. Stories (I do a fraction of the amount you do) are a great way to spotlight others and get an education myself, but even now I wonder 'where does it lead' for me as a writer. I find the blog a good outlet for more informal writing which seems more sustainable to me personally.

    I remember as a teen reading an Erma Brombeck column in the newspaper and thinking 'I could do that someday.' I got my first letter to the editor published as a teen too. I was only a moderate reader (still am) Nancy drew and such but I was constantly translated life into words in my head as speech. Still do. I dream that I'm constructed sentences and often write in my sleep.

  7. You actually do stick to long term projects. Look at this blog! THIS is a book! And all those articles--if you put them together... (Am I going to get in trouble from those three periods? lol)

    Write some fiction and put it away instead of putting it on here. Next year you'll have your book.



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