I was recently asked, “How long have you been writing?” and “Why did you chose to be an author?”
In the past I would provide some uninspiring, flippant-but-true answer: since before stone tablets were used. Or an equally redundant non-clarifying response that showed my amazing mental aptitude: Ah…geeze. You know? I don’t know. I guess…like… a long time. But thanks to a discovery I made a few years ago, I am now able to give a truthful, heartfelt answer. Probably more than anybody would want to know!
I’d never realized how long my inner heart had been pushing me toward being an author until that summer I decided to take the plunge and clean out the attic of my family’s old home. I happened on some wooden crates shoved into a corner. As it turned out, they housed some of my earliest attempts at writing. I never knew Mom kept any of the stuff, but there they were: poems about my dog, my horse, my dad, my first crush, and that stupid Mockingbird who perched on a limb just out side my bedroom window and woke me each and every morning as soon as the sun touched the far horizon. Hated that bird. Evil bird.
Beneath the poems were the stories. Kindly dragons who would gobble up children and keep them safe and warm in their mouth on a cold day- until their mother’s called them in for supper. The mystical red robin who would lead the way to a magic kingdom if you whistled the right tune. And not to be forgotten, the tale of the day Eddie Snodgrass wore a sack to school.
On his head, people! I was ten years old. Geeze.
Then there was the day the fire alarm went off. I smelled the smoke for possibly an hour, maybe longer, but brushed it off as inconsequential as I strove to write yet another clue to the mystery of the broken cuckoo clock. Even calls from the neighbors standing outside my house and the fists pounding on my front door couldn’t dissuade me from my single-minded determination to nail that clue. At some point, the dog bounded to the top of the stairs, took a stance just outside my office door, and began to sing. (Some may call it howling). “Okay Murphy,” I said, pushing the glasses further up my nose. “Give me five minutes and we’ll go for a walk.”
Murphy knew I was lying through my teeth.
Finally finished, I had a belated epiphany that there was smoke billowing up from the general direction of the kitchen. OMG! My lunch! The same lunch I had put on the stove to reheat just before my brilliant clue idea hit my writer-blocked brain… some two hours earlier.
Yikes! Oh m’gosh! Kitchen on fire!! Why didn’t somebody tell me???
I know it’s too much to hope that the world will cease to exist when I become totally focused on a story. But going forward I carry the hope if smoke is detected I will leave the story long enough to put it out.