A friend of mine, Allison, blogged about losing writing then getting it back. At the end of the post, she then said she’d “love to hear your stories about dreams that you have thought were lost that you are getting back to or when you have realized a dream.” I wrote the following in response to that, because, Yes, I’ve been there!!!
I am an artist, no two ways about it I love to create — visually and sculpturally as well as writing, I wrote my first book at about the same age you wrote yours. Then I discovered clay in our pasture… and once I had a horse of my own, both lessened as I spent every free moment during daylight with the equines and nighttime reading.
But I always wanted to be an artist (like my dad) and still did a fair amount of watercolor and copious numbers of drawings. Off to college I went and earned a BFA in studio ceramics and planned to take some time to build my portfolio for entrance into an MFA studio ceramics program.
AND Life Happened!
I ended up spending 2 years in wretched pain, unable to move much. This was my first serious autoimmune flare, although back then it wasn’t recognized as such. Alas, with the pain went any chance of working in clay… I thought I’d lost the love of my life forever. Painting is great, but clay RULES. I couldn’t even hold a pencil or pen for more than a few seconds. Even so, I thought up story after story…but never got very far with most of them.
AND Life Happened!
The flare broke, and I was courted by someone who had gone to the same church as my family, when I was still too young to remember. He was charming and suave, and good-looking…. and eventually I was firmly on his hooks. The experience with this master manipulator (and later discovered to be a serial killer) was one that should have ended in my death at his hands, but my mom knew something was off — something was wrong — and she got help to break me away from this man’s control.
AND Life was Happening Again!
I decided, since health-wise I was still on shaky ground, to help others…especially those who were being manipulated into giving pieces of themselves to another. So I picked up the necessary undergraduate classes, plus a bunch of social work classes before beginning my Master’s in clinical psychology.
Working on my MA was one of the best times in my life! I had a graduate assistantship, which was actually fun, learning (which I love to do), and most evenings I was painting again.
After earning my degree, I went out into the big bad world to earn my living. I had hoped to begin work on a non-fiction book that I had begun planning soon after getting away from that manipulative killer. But a day doing therapy or psychological testing leaves you little to no energy for much else. Especially as I worked mainly with sex offenders and adult victims of molestation.
AND Life Happened!
I eventually burned out. For the next several years I took temp jobs and entry-level jobs doing physical labor, and my mind began the process of putting together that non-fiction book on extreme interpersonal manipulation. It got written…took years of research and I have no idea how many drafts, but it was written.
No publisher wanted it, though. I may be good at the creative end, but marketing is something I have had to learn. I hate it. It shows, suspect.
Looking back, I see how horribly dry the writing was; I was writing to two very different groups of people — the professional mental health crowd and the average person-on-the-street. Because of that, the writing stank. The info is golden, but the presentation has the stench of a three-day-dead codfish sitting under a sink. (And yes,I kinda want to rewrite it again and try again to get a publisher interested At some point.)
All this time, however, I was writing other things as well, this time on a website I owned, designed, and coded. Topics ranged from cooking to how to ship artwork to (of course) extreme interpersonal manipulation.
IN the Meantime, Life Happened!
I was working direct care for a DDA (developmentally disabled agency) — I did one 48 hour shift (with sleep time) over weekends for a nonverbal man with a history of behavioral outbursts. (Because of my background in psych, I usually was assigned to homes with more behaviorally disturbed folk.)
My sister, one day, was casually looking over what opening there were at About.com for Guides (experts) in the various topics, She saw they had a posting for a psychology guide (as they were then known). The next day I went online to apply, but there was no listing for a guide to psychology…. but there was one for pottery!
I sent in my sample and was approved to go through the next phase of training, before a final decision would be made as to whether I would get the job or not.
I GOT IT! Which meant, I GOT CLAY BACK!!! Proceeds from that job paid for a new wheel and kiln. Oh, the rapture of being at a wheel again, listening to the clay and having the clay listen to me. It was like the rejoining of long-lost soul mates!
So now I got paid to do two of my most favoritest things! Clay and writing! It was through About.com colleagues that I found out about NaNoWriMo, and through NaNo I found so many new friends! AND…. I finally know the story I want to tell, and I believe for the first time I have the chops to write it the way it is meant to be written,
After all, I’ve only tried to write a credible novel…oh, say…..fifteen times before this!