Monday, July 19, 2010

My Life as a Writer

F. Scott Fitzgerald, photographed by Carl van ...Image via Wikipedia

I can’t remember if I was eight or ten when I was first published. An English teacher assigned all of us to write a poem about our philosophy of life. I entitled mine, The Ultimate Goal and I wrote about death. She thought it was amazingly mature and insightful for my age. Personally, I think I was just feeling morbid that day. She liked it so much she sent it to Highlights who published it and sent me a check. For some reason the number 5 remains in my head. I couldn’t tell you if the check was for $50. It could just as easily been for $5. I don’t know if I won a contest or if every child who had the honor of being published, got paid.

I should have been on cloud 9 but the only thing that really sticks out in my mind was my foster mom’s comment. “You can’t take credit for your writing. God gave you that talent.”

That may have been when I started resenting religion or it may have been when my foster dad insisted on my bringing home a catechism book at lunch time every school day. Before I could eat, I had to recite answers to questions from the book. I’m blaming that on my current eating disorders and the fact that I’m 100 pounds overweight today. Anyway, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
After the episode with the poem, I wrote very little that I didn’t have to write but I continued to get praise about my writing from several people throughout my life. Still I wasn’t convinced I had any real talent although I always enjoyed writing and I knew my writing was adequate. Even when teachers would tell me I was a good writer, I would thank them, but remain unconvinced that it was remarkable enough to be published.

Later, in the orphanage, one of the nuns mentioned to another nun that I had an inferiority complex. Smart alek that I was, I denied it by telling them I actually had a superiority complex and was trying to hide it by acting inferior. I’ll never forget the shocked looks on their faces. I wished I could have been a mind reader. They never talked about me in front of me again. Who knows what they said about me behind my back after that.

I can’t remember when I started writing for the sheer joy of it again on paper but I have always written in my head. Is that what is meant by hearing voices in your head?

I submitted another poem several years ago for a contest. It was also published, in an anthology, but I was never paid for it. I suspect they publish just about every poem they get in order to sell anthologies to the poets and everyone the poets know.

About three ½ years ago, ran a First Chapters contest. That motivated me to complete a book I had been attempting to finish, the previous ten years. I had about 4 chapters completed and from January until March to finish it. I wrote everyday to make the deadline. It contained four murder mystery novellas. Later I added a fifth. I’m currently revising it to be five separate and longer novels for my Sleuth & Scribe series.

I’m a bit like F. Scott Fitzgerald. In spite of his many published and well read works, he always considered himself inadequate. As soon as my first published book was released, I submitted a second just to prove to myself it wasn’t a fluke. The second was also accepted and will be released either toward the end of this year or the beginning of next. Book One of Sleuth & Scribe has also been accepted. I have no idea when that will be released. Probably around the end of 2011.

Still, there is the niggling thought that I’m not good enough to get accepted by a main stream publisher. Do I dare to attempt it? Maybe someday.
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  1. Mary, we are so alike, it's uncanny sometimes. You write wonderfully, and I have complete faith in your abilities.

  2. Hi Julie. :) Could you give me a link or url to your blog? I'd love to check it out.