Continuing with the revisit of my Fact and Fiction story (see Part 1 here)…
I had what I would call a normal, happy childhood, even though my dad died when I was a baby. My brother and I were raised by my mom and grandmother, and we had a close-knit and loving extended family. I have fond memories of holiday gatherings when we would play games like “Spoon” around a large dining room table at my aunt’s house.
I was a B student, for the most part. I studied hard at the subjects I loved best (English and History got As) and I did as little as I could get by with in the subjects that didn’t interest me much (Science). I went through a rebellious period in high school. I wanted to be a hippy but didn’t have the courage, to be honest. I never tried drugs; they frightened me. But I did do a few other dumb teenager-type things.
My family always went to church, but the mainstream Christian church we attended was more of a social experience. Truth was there in its long-ago founded doctrines, but that truth was hard to find in the church it had become. So while I believed in God, I didn’t know I could know Him. He was distant, up in heaven, like my grandmother.
Perhaps because I grew up without a dad and was surrounded by mostly women, I didn’t aspire to any sort of career after high school. More than anything, I wanted to marry and be a mommy. So that’s exactly what I did. As it turned out for the career I would one day have, that was the best thing that could happen to me. I lived life. I experienced people. I met heartache face-to-face. I developed empathy, one of the most critical tools for a novelist (to have the ability to put oneself, in heart and mind, into someone’s shoes and understand what they think and feel).
My voracious reading habits grew ever more so. I gobbled up books. Historical sagas and romances for the most part, but also history books and biographies/autobiographies and memoirs. I was learning a lot about writing during this time, although I certainly didn’t think of it as a learning period. I thought I was simply escaping into wonderful stories of love and adventure.
The year was 1973 with winter fresh upon us. Although the U.S. had pulled out of Vietnam, the war continued and P.O.W.s and M.I.A.s were still very much in my thoughts. I was a stay-at-home mom to two girls under the age of five. I had recently purchased a Sears electric typewriter. Believe me, it was one rickety clackity little machine.
I remember snow falling outside my dining room windows as I sat at the table, that noisy, clackity, humming machine that wobbled when I touched it sitting in front of me. I began to write a story about a young mom whose husband was serving in Vietnam. I made it either 7 or 9 pages, single spaced, before I set it aside. Years later, I ran across those pages, and they were bad!
To be honest, when I sat down to write, I didn’t think *I want to write a short story or a novel* or *I want to be published*. I was just playing at storytelling. I never thought about being a writer, as I said before. I simply wrote for the fun of it, because I wanted to. Had to, maybe.
Over the next 7+ years, my writing remained journals and letters. My sister-in-law used to pass around my letters to neighbors because she thought they were so entertaining. I found that weird. Why would perfect strangers want to read something I wrote? My s-i-l, yes. She was family. But her neighbors? Didn’t make sense to me. But I guess they were my trial audience.
Stay tuned for more of my Fact and Fiction story.