ORIGINS Blogfest…In Which a Poet Morphs into a Book-Writing Mom

For the Origins Blogfest, we’re supposed to chronicle our earliest remembrances of our writing superpowers…okay, maybe not superpowers, as you’ll quickly find out below.

As you can tell from my monkey bar photo above, I had a highly cerebral childhood! Seriously, though, I was ambidextrous till K-4 (they made me choose), I read a LOT, and I liked phonics. This lent itself handily to my fascination with writing.

My dad went on a business trip and brought me back a chinoiserie (always wanted to use that word), burgundy silk-looking diary. I faithfully scribed all the highlights of my eight-year-old existence into it. Many entries simply said, “Today, Mom made me take a nap again.” I also kept detailed lists of all my Christmas gifts, realizing their importance for posterity.

The first time I hit the big-time was in fifth grade, when we had to write an essay titled “A Teacher Is.” I won a $25 savings bond and got to read my winning essay on the radio. This would be the exact same essay I whipped up the very morning it was due. I’d written about how our teacher loved us because she disciplined us, perhaps harking back to sermons I’d already internalized about “Whom the Lord loves, He chastens.” Or it could’ve been the fact that I was in a rowdy class and couldn’t concentrate unless the teacher pulled rank.

Once I figured out how to type, I amused myself and my family with personally typed newsletters. But I had my epiphany moment after returning from the beach when I was probably eleven or twelve, when I wrote this poem:

As I look at the clouds,
I think of how
The ocean lapped at my feet.
I remember how
The salty water tasted on my tongue.
I remember
The bright moonbeams dancing on the waves.

But all that is gone.
I am looking at a space
Between two trees
That allows me to see
Limitless potential.

The clouds move swiftly on
To new horizons.
I look at them and know
That some other person 
Is looking at them, too.

The golden sunsets,
The red light of dawn
All assure me
That time moves on.

This very poem cinched the deal. I ran over to inform my mom and grandma that I was, in fact, a WRITER! I had been all along–who KNEW?

Fast-forward to my college years, in which I wrote goth stuff (before goth existed!), wore black, and started drinking coffee. I will spare you a lengthy poem, but here’s a little glimpse into my mind at that time:

–what is a pessimist?
   am I?
  good night I hope not. 
but optimism is a trivial jeopardy 
–a risk
taken by a blind and ignorant few…

Um….yeah. Moving right along. I won the extemporaneous essay contest my senior year in college, finishing my essay about fifteen minutes before everyone else and turning it in without a backward glance. I like to write fast.

Then I volunteered at a local newspaper, running a popular series called “Of Beds and Breakfasts.” It was rather infuriating to discover that my relatively error-free copies had accrued alarming numbers of grammatical and spelling errors when printed, thanks to the editor’s changes. ‘Nuff said on this particular small-town editor’s ability to edit.

After that, I strode into the editor’s office at a larger newspaper and convinced him of my writing qualifications. He proceeded to create a job for me covering county news. I’m nothing if not ambitious.

Around this time, I did try my hand at novel-writing. Here’s a blip of one of the MYRIAD stories I started:

That one hit.

I stand at my French doors and let the hailstones beat a rhythm into my brain. I remember the last storm–I remember Nicholas. We had been sitting on the front porch, not fearing because we had each other. He had been working on a new song–he sang it to me, loudly, as if to overpower the elements.

“Shattered rainbow
shining in moonlight
luring me inside
your colorless splendor
to the heart of the ocean…
the heart of the storm
the eye of fate.”

I had laughed. “What a melodious compilation of nonsense!” He grabbed my arms. His blue eyes were sharp, chastising. “Oriana, this is real. Not nonsense. I sing to nature, for myself, of you.”

Yes, the mysterious artist in love with the beautiful girl with an impossibly exotic name…not a new theme there. And I must say that was almost the extent of this story.

Then I got married. My romantically overblown poems and stories stopped, because I had a tangible love now. Someone who accepted me, pessimistic poems and all. I loved marriage and, it turns out, I loved having kids. So then I was a homeschooling mom who happened to write poems as an outlet. They were a bit more disjointed, but here’s one I’m still fond of:

West Virginia is 
a hard place to know
It welcomes you with sunlight
And punishes you with snow.
It holds you in its vision
And blinds you with its trees
It shows off its baby birdies,
Then kills them, if you please.
Dogs don’t stop to wonder
And I can’t stop to care
Because in leaving West Virginia,
I’ve finally moved in there.

Then the rest is chronicled on this blog. My kids got bigger and more independent. My friend challenged me to write a book in a month for NaNo–and we have established that I like to WRITE FAST. Thus, Otherworld was my first completed novel, though I’d come close a couple of times before. And now I’ve finished my first historical fiction novel, God’s Daughter. I’m getting ready to start on the sequel. And I hope I”m on the cusp of finding my second agent (had one for Otherworld).

I’d love it if you could follow my blog, or at least leave some comments of how your writing journey has paralleled mine (or perhaps diverged greatly!). And let me know I’m not the only person who loves to write poetry (though I rarely share the super-personal stuff, okay?).

Enjoy the blog-hopping!


71 thoughts on “ORIGINS Blogfest…In Which a Poet Morphs into a Book-Writing Mom

  1. Thanks for sharing your story! I loved reading it.Good luck finding a second agent! Also–I had to read it twice–second? Wow. πŸ™‚ Seeing as so many writers are looking for one, that's impressive!

  2. Well, I speak fast! But I have taken over 2 years to write my book, not 1 month! I also don't write poetry. Other than that, we are very similar LOL But, hey, wouldn't it be boring if we were all the same πŸ™‚ Great post.

  3. I homeschool too! πŸ™‚ Congrats on finishing Nano. I got to about 15,000 words before Thanksgiving then I had 15 people at my house and the writing stopped until December.

  4. Oh I love these excerpts! Beautiful writing.Also, thank you for your comments on my blog as well as in the Miss Snark contest. Your words mean a lot!New follower and prepare to be blog stalked!

  5. Hi Heather! So nice to meet you! Yep, a true writer indeed. Interesting journey… thanx for sharing it. Love the poems! I spent my early 20s jotting random poems in a hardback journal…. some are pretty out there, but then so was I. πŸ˜€

  6. Hi , Heather-from one Homeschooling mom to another- we must be kindred sisters across the miles:) Great hearing your story and LOVE your blog-any friend of De's is a friend of mine.Blessings-Jen

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