It’s been a full two years since I first began writing my first novel. What began as a challenge and an appeal by a close friend to co-write a story with her has turned into a quest to pursue my only life-long dream. Writing was always the only thing I had ever really wanted to do. I inhaled books as a child, reading dozens of books each month.
I read anything I could get my hands on and read some of my favorites over and over again. My favorite places were libraries and bookshops, the smell of old leather, polished wooden bookshelves, and aged paper, all just waiting to be read.
The older a book was, the happier I was to read it. Language from times past just spoke volumes to me, especially from the Victorian era. The written word was beautiful to me, both to read and to hear spoken aloud. The way people spoke and wrote letters, poetry and stories in such delicate and beautiful words, the time they took to express their thoughts or to describe some new wonder that their eyes beheld fascinated me to no end.
Beyond the words, beyond the pages within, was the journey of the book itself. Where had it been? Who had once held its pages and so lovingly read them by candlelight or near an open window on a sunny day? A king? A princess? A farmers wife? Maybe a noble of English descent or a traveler from a far away land?
I was utterly enthralled by the story that the book itself held, that just reading the pages felt like history itself connecting me to its past. My love for old books was a deeply rooted need to feel connected to the past, connected to something larger than myself, to humanity, both past and present. Having been adopted, I secretly harbored abandonment issues, never really felt at home anywhere, never connected to anyone or anything. Just a small ship lost at sea, an orphan wretch looking in the window at the happy home.
I remember going to the library as a young girl and disappearing in the stacks to find the oldest book I could, just to open it and breathe deeply of the past and perhaps my roots. To hold history in my hands and perhaps graze the forgotten prints of ancestors now passed. The book, the tangible leather and paper tome in my hand, was my connection to my past, the only one I had. In the library, I could breathe. I became something more than what I was, I became a possibility. I became connected, rooted and truly felt at home.
I knew I was gifted when it came to words but in this world of irony, I was not gifted with speech. I stuttered severely as a child, nerves and fear of being laughed at, over and over again, flooded my eyes with tears, every time I had to speak or read aloud. Shame would fill my body and my face would burn with embarrassment and tears. The laughter of my classmates and some teachers still haunt my ears today. I became introverted, sullen and depressed. Terrified to speak to anyone, for any reason.
My stutter nearly crippled me as a child, socially and still greatly impacts my life today, even though I stutter very little now. But those old memories of laughter and my shame frequently halt my attempts to speak openly and aloud. Imagine my frustration when I realized that I loved words enough to write them but could never speak them for myself.
Middle school found me in an English class studying poetry and prose and finally, my own gifts began to flow.
Poems began to drip from the ink in my pens, all my shame and sadness spilling out onto blank pages. I began writing every day, making verses and rhymes, giving voice to my sadness and rage. For the first time, I had a voice, even though I could not use it to speak, I could use it to deal with my emotions and my grief, my loneliness and despair. I finally had an outlet and something that was truly mine.
All through school, ink ran in my veins. I bled out on the page, died and survived, year after year. Poetry turned into stories, and running narratives in my head. I buried myself in books by Edgar Allen Poe, poems by Browning and Dickinson, Whitman, Wheatley and Frost.
I discovered Stephen King, Clive Barker, Anne Rice and VC Andrews. I read horror and romance, modern and classic, kids books, adult books and everything in between.
I loved the classics and made my way through most of them, “Anne of Green Gables”, “Little Women”, and “Little House on the Prairie”. I read about Narnia and Terabitha, about “Wrinkles in Time” and the “Call of the Wild”. I read “Roar of Thunder, Hear My Cry” and I read “Roots”, “Beloved”, “Uncle Toms Cabin” and the “Life of Jane Adams”. “Old Yellow” and “Where The Red Fern Grows” and yes, when those dogs died, I cried.
I read everything about despair and madness, I read about misery and scorn. I read of the Wild West, and Slavery, of the Civil War and the Great Depression. I read my way through our histories and back. I laughed, I cried, I lived. This, was how I lived. In my books, my life entwined with theirs, when they cried, so did I. When they bled, I bled, when they died, so too, did I.
My life in the world, I simply endured, but my life between the pages, I could be more.
As life would have it, things rarely go as we planned. I set my pen down, accepting that this dream would never be. I moved on and grew up, found a job and kept learning. I grew into adulthood, letting go of my dreams. Some things just were not meant for me. I was convinced I would fail, terrified to try, what if I had to speak then? I knew I would cry. It was best to stay silent, grow up and move on. Those echoes of laughter never strayed far from my mind, try as I might to leave them behind.
Decades have passed without a word put to page, my childhood dream I let finally fade. Now here I am, many years later, two novels behind me, with a third in the works. I own my own website and interview other authors. I write my own content and publish my poems. I’m working on novels and conversing with my heroes like it’s an every day thing. The laughter has faded and my soul quietly sings as I bleed across paper, penning my tomes. Never thought I would be here, finally living out my dream. Finally living, breathing, rooted and home.