I was three years old when I taught myself to read. The youngest of 6 children in a dysfunctional home, the kids were on their own without nurturing from either parent. Comfort lay in the amazing stories in hand-me-down books that I was glad to receive.
The first book I read was Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss. At my age I recognized that an important element was missing but couldn’t define it. It wasn’t until I read the next book, Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman that I understood what a real story was about. Although I was too young to explain it, I knew that Hop on Pop lacked a plot and substance. Finally, I came across the gem, the one that intrigued and inspired the writer within.
The Passion Ignited!
Go, Dog. Go!, another great story by P.D. Eastman, hit me like my first Steinbeck novel did a dozen years later. I was blown away. Not only was the book full of literally colorful characters, but it added a new dimension to my reading experience. In and out of multiple dog adventures, from a canine party on a tiny sail boat to working on a crane, a young dog couple meet in passing. She dangerously flirts, flashing him with fancy hats, but it’s not enough to win his affections.
This flirtation goes on until the end of the story, when a big dog party takes place in a giant tree, and herein lies the moment when I discovered that I wanted to write stories of my own. The cartoon drawings in the book are one dimensional against a white backdrop. It’s up to the reader to see through the white canvas background. Beyond the giant tree where the party takes place the road disappears into a pinpoint on the horizon and I wanted so desperately to know where the road led. My imagination filled in the blanks and more.
Now here’s the next best part. Out of nowhere, the female dog appears with the most atrocious hat ever, filled with spiders, potted plants, and party favors. She asks the male dog, “Do you like my hat?” He is utterly thrilled and smitten with both her and the hat, filled with all things like a dowry that she has to offer in exchange for his love and protection.
At the end of the book, the male and female drive off into the sunset and that makes Go, Dog. Go! the first romance I ever read. And of course, I wouldn’t know for decades that writing served me as a way to escape the brutal realities of a childhood that no one should have to endure.
But What Will People Think?
I hid my stories for fear of rejection until my mid-twenties, always concerned about judgment and criticism. I didn’t give myself permission to pursue writing as a profession until my late thirties. Over two decades later I have a fiction and a non-fiction book contract, as well as an addiction to perfecting my craft. (Please don’t do the math!)
Perhaps I intuitively knew at a young age that I needed a voice to express the chaotic institution called family and all the suffering it meant for me. Since I didn’t feel heard, the written word became my preference of communication.
A passion should never be held at bay and put in favor of something we feel we “should” be doing. I was called to be a writer and strongly feel that my writing is making a strong contribution to those who allow themselves to be inspired by what they read. Writing makes me feel like a better person and lets me see beyond the horizon.
Does your career fulfill your passion? What is it that you’re doing and what inspired you to get started?
Getting past that, ‘what will people think’ phase is so important to writing with authenticity. I think it is the only time you can truly connect with the reader. Good for you that you were able to achieve that.
Thank you for reading my blog. If I didn’t care about what others thought, I would have started writing in the 1st grade when I learned how to write “bigger” words. You’re right -it’s one of a writer’s most difficult achievements in order to tell a convincing story. The one thing that helped me the most was when I read that there is our truth, other people’s truth, and the real truth. In writing, our truth is the only one that matters.
Excellent write up! I enjoyed reading it and sharing it with the WORLD (well, my little niche anyway)! Nice to hear of your successes! Thanks for sharing.
Thank you, Chris, for reading my blog. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
For some reason your post really touched my heart. You ARE a success story, and I appreciate everything you’ve done and everything you’re continuing to write. (LOL I started doing the math before you said not to.)
Thank you for reading my blog. I’m glad you were touched –now that makes me feel like a writer! Too bad you did the math. I used to stop at 30 but then gravity caught up so I had to up it and finally stopped at 50. Still, I feel younger than ever!
I loved Dr. Suess. Go Dog, Go, Green Egg and Ham. All those great ones.
Dr. Seuss and P.D. Eastman are total classics next to Steinbeck and Hemingway. Green Eggs and Ham was awesome!
Carole, so refreshing to hear your story, honestly and touchingly told.
Thank you, Melodie. I’m glad you enjoyed it!
I also hid my writing for the longest time, then read some advice from one of my online writing groups that I should admit out loud to being a writer. It kind of felt good.
Thank you, Lesley, for reading my blog. It so reminds me of being at an AA meeting: “I am a writer.” It’s silly that we need to have permission to do what we love or to stop doing what we don’t enjoy, yet I needed it, too. My best friend was dying of cancer and on her deathbed she made me promise to write!
Your addiction is our pleasure. You’re a great writer, Carole and your spirit brings beauty to your prose.
Awwh! Thank you, John. Why can’t you have a Creative Writing -Level 3, or Creative Writing for Those Who Didn’t Get Enough Love in Childhood at Mt. SAC?
Carole, I heard on NPR yesterday that a Wisconsin university did a longitudinal study on who is the most successful over time. Two elements seem to create success. 1. high IQ and 2. a warm family life.
Oh well, I thought– one out of two ain’t bad. I got 50 per cent of the way there without even trying; the rest is up to me. And, you know– it’s never too late to have a happy childhood. 😀
That’s why I love you, Marta! My chances just dropped to zero but some say anybody can write!
Carole, writing is a wonderful way to sort out the chaos in that institution called family. And that’s where your material is, if you choose to take advantage of those wounds. Go for it!
Thank you, John. I have been writing about family stuff, much to their dismay. I am hoping to end the generational sexual abuse pattern but there are those who have asked me not to write the book. (Too bad, so sad.) Still, I got a lot of comedic material, too. Thank you for reading my blog!
I just had a chance to read your recent story on your blog, very cute and family oriented. You have come such a long way with your writing since you have been back to So. Cal. So glad that you have pursued your “dream” of writing and soon to have your first published or have you? Last time I asked, you said that you were very close to being finished and it’s almost December. I will be one of the first to buy your first book. I feel like I have traveled the journey with you in your writing endeavors and the classes you took in school. And just like me, despite what your family thinks, you are doing what you love best in life, writing and becoming a publisher. You have a gift and I am so very happy to be a part of your life. You can only go UP from here! The sky is the limit!
Thank you for reading my blog. I’m glad you enjoyed it and that you have supported my writing endeavors!