Recently I was doing a program on writing and talking not only about how I got started writing but also explained why I write. Several friends were in the audience and afterwards one came up to me and said, “I never knew that about you.” At that moment, a lightbulb went on in my head and I realized that a lot of you never knew that about me either. So let me tell you the Story of Me.
Most of you already know I’m a Southern girl. I was born and raised in Northport, Alabama. That’s right across the river from Tuscaloosa. Left there at the age of eighteen to join the U.S. Air Force and became a Medic during the Vietnam era. But let me tell you about growing up.
First of all, we were what people would consider poor in that we had very little money. My dad worked at the paper mill there in Tuscaloosa and my mom worked at home taking care of my older brother and me. While we were poor as far as money was concerned, we were not poor as far as family was concerned. We grew our own food in the garden, kept our own chickens for eggs and Sunday dinner, and my mom made our clothes from flour sacks. We got a new pair of shoes when each school year began. We had what we needed. Not what we wanted but what we needed. Life as I knew it back then was great.
Now at some point way back then, I became a writer. I can’t tell you the exact age I was because I don’t remember but my first recollection is around four or five years old. I did not know my ABCs or even how to spell or write my own name. All I could do at that point was scribble with some crayons that had been handed down to me by cousins and friends who had outgrown them. I would take those crayons and scribble on brown paper bags that were no longer usable. I scribbled my stories onto the bags and then I would read those stories to my cloth dolls that I had sitting against the porch wall on my parents’ front porch.
Of course, those scribbles were unreadable as far as anyone else was concerned but, in my head, I knew what was written there. Stories of knights in shining armor riding in on their beautiful horse and rescuing the damsel in distress, along with her dolls. We were a package deal. Or the story of a little dog lost but found by a little girl who gave it a forever home. There were lots of stories, but all had a happy ending.
During car rides to visit relatives, I would create stories in my head of things I saw along the way. For instance, in that big hole in the old oak tree on the way to my grandmother’s house, there lived a fairy who could grant wishes. Or over there in that old fallen down barn, there was the little kitten who rescued other animals until the barn was full of all sorts of animals and the little girl who lived in the big house took care of them all. The thing about those stories is that I thought everybody did the same. I thought everybody created stories in their head just as I did. Didn’t find out they didn’t until after I started school. What a shock that was!
Once I started school and actually learned my ABCs, I started to write my stories on paper. Didn’t share them with anyone for years because kids can be cruel as a lot of you know. So, being a shy individual, I kept them to myself. But the thing is, I wrote. I wrote because that’s what I do. I wrote because that’s what I’ve always done. It brings me joy and comfort.
Writing has always been my thing ever since I can remember. I write to make you giggle, laugh out loud or even pee your pants a little. I write to leave you with the happy ever after that a lot of us never get in real life. If I can make you smile with my writing, then I have done what I set out to do. Bring a little happiness when and where it’s needed most.