My earliest recollection of what I wanted to be when I grew up was a nurse. That was in the second grade, and I was going to marry Phillip forgot-his-last-name. My teacher, Miss Melanie who was a beautiful Hawaiian lady, (she sang and did the hula for us adoring seven year olds, and she looked just like the pretty pictures), discovered Philip and I writing love notes to each other one day. I distinctly remember her snatching the note from my horrified hand, then reading it out loud to the class. I was so poetic back then. When she muttered those three words I had written, “I love you!” with such contempt in her voice, there was not a rock small enough for me to hide under. I was humiliated to the core, and to this day, every time I hear melikalikimaka I break out in hives.
We, the two love struck children, were promptly separated, and Phillip never spoke to me again. And that’s ok, because when I finally took a good look at the twerp, I discovered Phillip had big gaping nostrils and he didn’t blow his nose when he should.
But I digress.
In the third grade I was introduced to my first true love: horses. By fourth grade I had read every Margurite Henry book written, and my daddy was taking me to the local riding academy three times a week for lessons. Naturally I was going to be the world’s first lady jockey of note. I could not wait to grow up so that I could ride with the wind. Um yeah, I think by sixth grade I was 5’7″. A tall and lanky 115 pounds. Sigh. But that was ok, because now I had heard my true calling. I was going to be the veterinarian of all veterinarians. Here’s how I knew this.
It’s spring time, my daddy bought me a flat of colorful petunias to plant in the back yard. I’m toiling away when my little spade hits something hard. A rock I figure. Oh, contraire. It was a box turtle who hadn’t bothered to come out and play. I dug him out and put him in a box. And watched, breathless for him to immerge from his long winter’s nap. An hour went by, nada. Ah, I understood his reluctance. He probably thought it was still winter. Easily fixable. I cranked up the tried and true Suzy Homemaker Oven, slid ol’ Tom the turtle in, and voila, several moments later, he popped right out!
So, when that went by the wayside, I was going to be a model. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL
But the turning point in my life (hey when I look back it was!) was in the eighth grade, when Barbara Zappo slipped me a dog-eared copy of The Flame and the Flower, and forbid me to tell anyone where I got it.
Sigh. After devouring the book in one night, under the covers with a flashlight, I knew then my heart’s desire was to be Heather Birmingham. That lasted me into high school.
Then I wrote my first love story. Long hand. About a beautiful tragic model and her pet wolf who lived in Manhattan and who accidentally bumped into a rock star who amazingly resembled Rod Stewart, and yes, after several temper tantrums and the Rod Stewart boyfriend coming around, and proclaiming his love for her to the entire world by dedicating his Central Park concert to his lady love, they lived happily ever after. The title of this critically acclaimed novel? THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME. Yes, my friends, I had found my calling. I Karin Maiden-Name was going to be the next Jackie Suzanne/Rosemary Rodgers.
Well, then reality caught up with me. I married, began a family, was still a voracious reader but it never occurred to me to write. I started a business at 25, a business that is still running strong. The writing bug didn’t hit me again until my last child was born. But I had four of the buggers and two businesses at the time to run and a husband who worked weird-ass shifts, and just no time. Or so I thought. It took me eighteen months, but I wrote another story, in long hand, between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Another masterpiece! A 175K word romantic suspense. It’s still under the bed.
I didn’t write again for 10 years. But this time when the bug took hold, my life was more conducive. Thank god for my office manager who did the work while I was squirreled away in my office and wrote like a mad woman. So here it is years later, I still have the same office manger, I work a little bit more in the biz than I would like, but in so doing it keeps me on my toes, and I am a writing fiend.
I think it’s odd, that until six years ago, while I always dabbled in writing and loved to read romance, it never occurred to me to write toward publication. In so many ways I wished I’d had this realization earlier, but then again, had I, I wouldn’t be where I am sitting right now, and from my window the water lilies in my koi pond look pretty amazing. So I have no regrets.
How about you? What did you always want to be when your grew up? And are you now?