Tuesday, February 26, 2019

For the Love of Writing

My book Making History: how to remember, record, interpret, and share the events of your life, published in 2007, is full of great stories – some of them mine, and many others from people who shared theirs while attending my memoir-writing workshops.

Here is one of my own stories, illustrating that we should never underestimate the power of our heroes.

Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a writer. I wrote plays, poems, stories, and even a newsletter for my family, which I subjected them to every Sunday night at the dinner table during the year that I was nine.

My mother kept some of my early efforts, and it is to her credit she was able to see anything impressive in them. One of the first stories I wrote was a thrilling epistle called “The Cow.” It featured a cow who broke out of its pasture and ran amok through a quiet suburban neighborhood, mooing and bellowing in rage while it knocked over cars and trash cans. It even ate pet cats, birds and small dogs. The cow was eventually caught and ground up into hamburger, the moral being that bad behavior is punished.

I wanted to be a writer because I loved books and stories; it seemed a miracle to me that color, excitement and action could bloom out of black lines on white paper. My mother read to me until I was old enough to read on my own. I still remember the Christmas when I was nine or ten and given Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I fell in love with its heroine, Jo March. She too wanted to be a writer, and her “scribbling” meant more to her than anything else. She wasn’t one of those namby-pamby, retiring, “good” girls – no, she was exciting, bold, tumultuous, a passionate rebel who had problems with anger and who rebelled against female restrictions. I identified with her strongly.

Jo March was my first author mentor. I read and re-read Little Women until the pages came out of the spine and I could recite whole chapters by heart. Jo March was my touchstone. She was how a writer was.

I was savagely disappointed when I first read Little Men, the sequel to Little Women. It told the story of an adult Jo, who had become a wife and mother, leaving her writing dreams behind. All the focus in the book went to her boys, and Jo was relegated to the sidelines. Even worse was she seemed happy with her diminished role.

I was somewhat relieved when I read the third book about the March family, Jo’s Boys. Here I learned that Jo had retrieved her writing dreams and become a successful writer in middle age. Better late than never, I thought, although to my eleven year old mind, it seemed like a long time to wait.

But now I am struck with how my life has paralleled that of Jo March. I, too, showed early promise and wrote from heart-stopping passions so deep I knew I would always keep writing. But I grew up and married, had children, and left my writing dreams to molder while I made a living and focused on my kids. Just like she did.

But today! Today I am past middle-aged, but my writing dreams are still young and vibrant. I have published a number of books and am working on more. I help others write their books. I make my living scribbling.

Just like Jo.

PS: Making History is available for purchase online. (You might also find it in your neighborhood library.)

Kim Pearson is an author, ghostwriter, and owner of Primary Sources, a writing service that helps others become authors of professional and compelling books and articles. She has authored 12 books of her own, and ghostwritten more than 45 non-fiction books and memoirs. To learn more about her books or services, visit kimpearson.me.

3 comments :

  1. "Today I am past middle-aged, but my writing dreams are still young and vibrant. I have published a number of books and am working on more. I help others write their books. I make my living scribbling."

    Isn't it interesting how an early, unbridled passion for writing can mature into a productive lifetime career? Kudos to you for making that happen. Well done, Kim! Your eleven-year-old self knew what she wanted, and she went for it. Keep up the good work.

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  2. I took that long break for work and family as well, and finally saw my first book published after age 65. The dream doesn't die, it just hangs in there and waits.

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  3. I am probably the opposite of all my blog mates. I pursued three different careers before I put computer to a story, but once I did, I couldn't stop and haven't slowed down until recently. I could never have made a living writing. Never thought of writing. It was only AFTER middle age that I had the luxury of time and a way to live that I even tried. I think that's why many writers, certainly the ones on this blog, are in their "middle years." Me? I'm later than that.

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