A little bit of musing as I try to ignore the holidays barreling down on us…
People ask me how I got started writing. This is a hard question for me. I’ve always been a reader, and I think I always had a secret dream to write. I just never thought I was good enough. The answer is, I think, there came a point where I gave myself permission to do what I needed to do—write.
Then they ask me how I persevered through eight years of rejection. That one is easy. I Could Not Stop. Seriously, I’ve burned myself on the stove and stopped touching it. It only took three children for me to figure out childbirth hurts. I learned that if you do it and it hurts, stop. Really—I usually try to avoid pain.
Rejections in my mails box were an open sore and I just kept jabbing that sore with hot pokers.
So I tried to stop writing.
But I kept writing. I cannot explain it. It’s a deep compulsion that I feel in my gut. And it’s voices in my head. Whispers of ideas…
What if a woman’s husband is not who she thinks he is? What if she’s is so desperate to be married and have a real family, that she clings to the “story” in her head rather than facing the truth? Until the truth threatens her and her two sons? Samantha Shaw is that woman. And me, being me, I had to throw in humor and sex it up.
That’s my style. That’s who I am as a writer. And I can’t stop. Even if I no longer showed up at the computer to type—the stories keep running in my head. I don’t know why, but it’s always been like that. I thought everyone had ongoing storylines in my head.
This weekend my husband said, “I’m going to be like you and just go to my happy place in my head.” He meant it. I do it all the time. Say there are commercials on TV and I’m bored? I disappear inside my head, weaving stories and characters and murders and love scenes…whatever.
I suppose it goes back to my childhood. I was the youngest of four siblings, born late in my parents’ life. Can you say, Surprise! My parents loved me; my mom went out of her way to assure me of how much she wanted me, etc. But the result was that my brothers and sisters all had busy lives by the time I came along. So I spent a lot of time alone, playing by myself or with my dog Duke. Duke and I had grand adventures. I didn’t play much with dolls, and frankly, Barbies freak me out, but I invented entire worlds for Duke and me to play in. We had a terrific time.
Then I learned to read, and Whoa! Other people invented entire worlds too and I got sucked right in! I loved reading.
Naturally, I used to get in trouble at school for daydreaming. Eventually I learned how to control it and pay attention when I needed to. Actually, my 7th grade science teacher once pointed out in exasperation, I was the only child he had met that could look him straight in the eye and not hear a word he said. He was smart, but he was boring so I went to my happy place.
The point is that I cannot stop writing. And I can’t stop now.
What really brought this home to me was having my palm read at a party for fun. People starting gathering around to see what the palm reader would say, and I laughed. I said, “I’m really boring, guys. She’s not going to say anything stunning.”
And they she did say something stunning. “Jen, I see why you think you’re life is boring to talk about.”
Me—”Uh, ’cause it is?”
Her—” No. Because you are so clear. But you also have a duel life. You have your ‘real’ life that you live, and then you have an incredible internal life.”
Me—”Oh, Right. So, uh, that’s not normal?”
She, and the entire group watching, stared at me oddly, and she answered,—”I’ve never seen it so clear on anyone’s palm.”
All righty then. I’ll just keep my palms to myself and keep writing books 🙂
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!