Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Birthday Wish

This January 13th would be my father’s 94th birthday. He died in 2012 after several years of steadily diminishing health. Following his wife’s death, he developed gangrene which was completely overlooked by nursing staff. Family was too preoccupied with one unexpected death to closely monitor my father’s nursing care. One month later he was dead. In many respects, I was glad he could finally be free of a failing body and mind. He was a rock in my life. I cannot imagine who I would be without him. I often wish he was still around. In some ways he is.



I remember my mother saying to me that I was the best of her and my father. I assume they felt this way about my two younger brothers also, but the first born is a special case. New parents put all their hopes and dreams into that first child. I suppose from my mother I inherited artistic gifts and she had a set of mantras she was always hammering into my head—such as never be like the rest of the sheep. Always think for yourself. Stay away from mean-spirited, catty girls. And on and on. She was gentle and accepting. My father was the disciplinarian, but the parent who was the most affectionate with his children. He transmitted all the family values and expectations. But then when I turned 12 our lives fell apart. My mother abandoned our family for reasons no one could understand. My brothers were totally confused, I was angry, and my father was deeply wounded. My mother left a note on the kitchen table and she was gone with the wind. It was a very painful, traumatic time for all of us. No one escaped without scars.

In the 1950s, women almost always got custody in divorce proceedings. I thank God that my father was the one who sought and got custody. There was no way my mother could have supported three kids financially, emotionally, or in any other way. My father’s mother had died when he was a toddler and he was separated from his brothers and father and sent off to be raised by his maternal grandmother. I think that scar on his life made him fiercely protective of his children. It was a difficult undertaking for him to be a single parent, but he didn’t run away from his responsibilities. I cannot imagine what life would have been like if he had run away. I cannot imagine who I would have become if abandoned by both parents as some children are.

And so on this anniversary of his birth date, I think of all the things that I inherited from him—flaws, strengths, outlooks on life. I wonder how he shaped my life for the better, how his history runs through my veins. I wonder how both he and my mother are ever present in my life. And then I remember a stunning comment my mother made to me when I was in my late 30s. She sighed and said: “When you born, that was it. As far as your father was concerned, you were the one.”

3 comments:

  1. Such a tribute to your father. It must have been particularly hard for him to cope with an angry young girl. As the second of two girls, I can relate to your mother's comment to you. My sister was the one....and being the one is worth emotional gold. January 9th would have been my mother's 102nd birthday, so I've been having thoughts about her too...mostly how amazed she'd be at the technology advances. She was a gadget lover and always liked to contemplate the future and not think about the past. I found this post intensely interesting. I hope you continue to memoir (is that a verb?).

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    1. Thank you for your comment. It's fascinating how one's parents' DNA just seems to bubble up through the fabric of thoughts and experiences. Nice when they are good thoughts and experiences, but what about the bad ones? I'll have to mull that one over.

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  2. A wonderful tribute to your father. I miss mine lots and wish He hadn't let me at the age of ten. I have inherited his poetic talent and resemble him for which I am grateful.

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