I’ve written most of my life. I was five or six years old when I penned my first poem, it was about God—a pretty big subject for such a small child. I wrote my first screenplay in the fifth grade, it was about cannibals—too much early exposure to the Tarzan and Jane television series. As a teenager, I treasured the hours I spent with my diary, sharing deepest secrets and wildest dreams. When I ran out of space in those tiny, clasp locked booklets, I stole my school notebooks to write in, a step that resulted in much scolding. Paper was expensive, not something to be used for frivolous things.
Since 1973, I’ve kept a journal. There were years when I recorded daily and years when a weekly entry was all I could manage. As an adult I’ve written about many subjects. I have had a few articles and ‘Letters to the Editor’ published. I’ve even sold a short story, and given away many others. For years, I was the only grant writer for The Rose, submitting more proposals than I’d ever wish to count or ever want to remember. Some were successful in winning the award, some not.
I have another book ready to publish. It is a work of fiction and on a topic not remotely associated with breast cancer or the story of a real life organization. Patrick and I wrote it together years ago when he was working overseas—creating its characters and storyline was a big part of our nightly chats over the internet. Someday it too will be published, and I imagine I’ll experience all the author’s angst and anxiety that my first published book evoked. Most likely I’ll question my sanity, wondering why I would put myself through that again. I realize publishing is the goal, but it’s taken a toll on me and I wish I found a smidgen of the joy in it as I do writing.
Publishing is one thing, writing is another. To me, writing means a time and process that allows me to enter a different world. It is a world very different than my CEO world, the place where I spend the bulk of most days. That world is filled with making decisions and taking action, it is a world of creating and implementing strategic plans and overseeing projects and managing people. The CEO world requires certain intensity, a willingness to be ‘on stage’ through good times and bad and the ability to effectively move within disparate entities and people. It is a world I’m comfortable being in, one I enjoy.
But, in the writing world I am different, somehow softer, more fluid. I realize some of the skills from that business world will be valuable to this world of writing and publishing –the discipline, the prioritizing of tasks, the reality of public acceptance and demand or the lack of it.
Yet, lost in my thoughts as I play with words and see sentences appear across blank sheets of paper, is a world so welcoming it borders on being addictive. It is more solitary, at least until the editing process begins. It is a world filled with possibilities, at times so many that the process of writing shuts down. That is when I return to my more familiar world of meetings and decisions, grateful to have the routine and distraction.
But the writing lingers in the background. It watches me, patiently waiting. I barely notice its soft whimpers, then it becomes louder, cries filled with such a yearning that I can ignore it no longer and I am forced to return.
At first the return only involves my journaling. Picking up my spiral notebook, recording my daily musings, knowing no one will ever read them, yet I must capture them, I must see the words on the page. I must write.
Then the stories emerge. Like children peeking over a fence, longing to be on the same side as I am, to walk and play alongside me.
The stories peck at my mind, stories that have their own beginnings, and tease me until I help them find their endings. So many stories that sit inside my soul and have no place to go...until that moment when I open the notebook and pick up the pen, or turn on the computer and find the space, and write.