It was asked in one of my wonderful writing groups by Kim this question:
“Throwback Thursday: When you were in high school, what were your future plans? Were you going to be an author or were you headed somewhere else first?”
I started writing it then realized just how long it was and decided it was blog-post worthy.
(Be prepared-this is a story in itself)
When I was in high school, in my junior and senior year, we had vocational school training available. Even though I majored in Art in school with 4 years under my belt, as well as 4 years of Honors Spanish, my mother convinced me the practical route (AKA-where the money was and a steady income) was in the health field. While I loved my artwork, I sucked at sewing (got a 76% in Home Ec for it), had an ill father and was used to being around sick people (myself included). I felt with our poor income, that was the way to go. I grew up shopping for groceries once a month, we had no car, and my father was diagnosed when I was 11 years old with schizophrenia after he cornered us and said he was going to kill us all. I became interested in psychiatry after that (still am) but I could never go to college without a scholarship.
My father had an 8th grade education and my mother dropped out in 11th grade to get married. I was the golden child out of us five girls with my ridiculously high grades and had a good chance at getting into college without much effort. I went into nursing my junior year in high school. The month before, I had tried to commit suicide my cutting my wrists, failing miserably with a broken bottle I found down near the horse pond. When I saw the blood, it kicked in-what the Hell was i doing!? I still have that scar to remind me how far I went down that road and show it to others.
Why? That was August and in September at a teen dance, I met my husband when I was 16 years old. I fell head over heels in love. We got engaged only 2 weeks after we met. He had gotten a concussion and I was stricken with mono so bad that I was hospitalized. He threw the engagement ring on the bed. He supported my ambitions and I his since he was going in the Air Force after school. I dreamed of trips around the world with my husband. He was going to take care of me, something I felt my father never did for my mother, and we threw caution to the wind. We felt the way we could get married was if I was pregnant. We decided to have a child and get married (yes, in that order).
However, it was not meant to be. His recruit officer refused to allow him to complete registration once she found out he had me at home and was only 17 and pregnant. She wanted to make sure the child was taken care of, my mother wouldn’t let us get married since she had to sign papers because of my age. She married at 16 and I believe regretted it and didn’t want me to make the same mistake. While my artistic self yearned for a lifestyle of travel, instead stayed, completed my nursing, and graduated as Home Health Aid and CNA my senior year of high school. My daughter was 6 months old at the time. I was lucky to be alive since I almost died having her, missing 4 months of school and being told by my guidance counselor I would never amount to anything since I was unmarried and had a child. I had great respect for the medical community and figured that was my path.
I still wrote short stories the entire time. I would have a notebook and pen with me all the time. I wrote a story in 10th grade and still have it. I even typed it up while I was pregnant in my senior year of high school. Unfortunately, to me, with my mother’s voice in my ear, it wasn’t a practical journey for me. I had a child to take care of, after all. When we finally could marry (which I still stalled until I was 19 because by then, my mother said I would ruin my future getting married rather than do it on my own, unlike her), I was working as a home health aide to a woman who housed my husband after his mother threw him out after our daughter was born. That is a story unto itself, but needless to say, it was tedious and my heart wasn’t into it.
I still considered the medical field up until 1991. My father had been hospitalized for pneumonia. They sent him home after 2 weeks at 11 AM on July 11, 1991. By 6 PM that night, I held my dead father in my arms from a massive heart attack. When we went to do his obituary, I realized I had nothing to put into it. Absolutely nothing. He was only 59 and had been through Hell and back, and yet nothing could be said about his life. It changed me that day.
I started sewing when I was that age after we married, but had a new fervor when I lost my father. I told my mother I was going to sell my doll clothing around the world. She laughed at me saying there was no way I could ever make money with doll clothes. Somehow, it reminded me of my guidance counselor. I was hell bent to prove her wrong. I loved Barbie dolls and started my daughter’s collection. The first outfit I ever got her it ripped. That is another story for another time, as I launched my career into the designing and sewing of Barbie clothes. I excelled, even getting a NY State educational grant for those with disabilities. Still, I would dabble in poetry and short stories. Nothing serious as there was no money in it.
Fast forward time. I was now 34 years old and my marriage had stalled, no prospects of things getting better financially, now with 2 children to care for. My husband had lost his good job when I was sick and my youngest daughter was one (when I got the grant) and times were tough. If I ran out of toilet paper or bread, I went to my mother’s house or to eat. I remember days when I wouldn’t eat so my kids could. I was miserable. I dropped my sewing and got involved in paranormal investigating, meeting some people online. In a last ditch effort to change my life, I packed my family up in the car, had no furniture but the mattresses for our beds, my computer, sewing machine, and whatever we could fit in a 4×8 trailer what was dear to us. I moved a thousand miles away and moved to Georgia.
Fast forward again, another 7 years. After almost getting divorced when we moved here, then repairing our marriage, I had lost a good several years with my sewing. My heart wasn’t into it, my head wasn’t into it. Again, I was lost and miserable. I had collected a doll named Hitty. She was based on a story by Rachel Field that was written in 1929 and received a Newberry Medal Award. I itched to continue her story. Finally, one day, I started it. Just sat down and started writing. I could see the story in my head. I could see the end of the book in my head. However, even after all these years, I still also had my mother’s voice in my head about how impractical it was and a waste of time. I left it then, going back to my sewing and had no heart in anything at that point.
Then the economy struck the bottom and my sewing skills and designing wasn’t making enough money. I got into dog rescue where I felt I was actually doing something. One day, I came across the story I had started to write. “Why not?” I asked myself. What did I have to lose? I started researching the 1930’s and the story took on a life of its own. Two years after I started writing it, at the tender age of 42, I published my first book September 15, 2012. As I said in another post, I was terrified to hit the publish button. My daughter, Michaela, was there and so was my husband. She was going to do it when I stalled so I ended up doing it myself.
That is how the writer in me came alive and was born that day. In the back of my mind, I couldn’t wait to get a copy and find out if my old guidance counselor was still there up in New York. She was, and oh how tempted I was to get a copy, sign it, and write inside “This is the nothing I have become”. I doubt she would remember me, but it gave me great satisfaction to know just how wrong I had proved everyone. My mother to this day still hasn’t read my book and even thought it was a flight of fancy (AKA-made up) until I sent my stepfather a copy of my book. He was always supportive and of course, he read it and loved it.
That was all that mattered to me.
If my story doesn’t inspire someone, I don’t know what will. Overcoming that little voice in your head that makes you feel you cannot succeed is the biggest struggle ever. I am at the point now where money is at the forefront with medical bills and me needing surgery we cannot afford, so again, my writing has taken a backseat. Due to other issues in life, I don’t devote the time to marketing like I should. I am using my skills to sew, but even then, my heart is still a bit lost as to where I should be after my sewing machine broke. My wonderful friend, Karen, bought me another one. My daughter is facing being screened for breast cancer at only 26, my husband’s knees need shots we cannot afford, and I have a special needs dog along with a grandson who has eating issues that I help with when I can.
I have been lost for a while now, but it doesn’t mean I will not overcome. How does that song go? Anyhow, my path is full of twists and turns. I still am interested in medicine since I have kids and grandkids with medical issues, but feel I had that nursing experience so I could help them, not to be in the field. I keep up on my sales for my book and took the print one off the market. I have seen people put it up on Amazon for $80 and it sells…but I see no profit from it. Still, each night, I sit here and wonder what in the world I should be doing with my life. My sewing machine is gathering dust and I cannot find the effort to write anything of value. I am now 44 and have gotten into politics and even considered becoming a bounty hunter for several reasons, including an ex-son-in-law with a restraining order and now a felony rap. What am I to do from here? I should know by now, shouldn’t I?
To find the book that launched my career, find the eBook version on Amazon.com
Of find and like her Author’s Page on Amazon to find all of her works including “Twisted Tales”