4th grade: magazine image of a gondolier in Venice.
A soap bubble of imagination rises with a yearning
to tell his story, too soon popped by the sharp prick of reality.
Recess plays written by Charlene Storm, acted out by four little girls.
One budding playwright submits a script in tiny, unreadable words.
Books: magic carpet portals to other worlds.
Story-gifts from the gods.
Safe-haven for a lonely, unseen wanderer.
10th grade: a picture on a wall, dark and misty,
a lake, a windmill, a house on a far shore.
words rise unbidden, weaving a story:
a woman, a man, a connection across time and space.
A beckoning to tell their story forces words onto paper.
Pages tucked into a class notebook
remain a story untold from a writer undeclared,
as intention to share is silenced by fear.
College: flooding of dark words playing themselves into poems,
creative writing classes with wild man and storyteller, William Foster Harris,
red-inked submissions returned with no encouragement.
Tiny, unremarked diversions from the path of real life.
Real Life: numbers, assets and liabilities, income statements
overshadow periodic leaking of words onto the page,
beloved IBM Selectric hidden in a cramped under-staircase closet,
secret submissions to magazines and journals,
fat returned-manuscript envelopes, form letter rejection slips.
(years scroll by until ... )
New Editor: rejection-proof newsletter: MindPlay, editor Joyce Wycoff.
Content: whatever sparks curiosity and interest.
Slowly, a small group of followers emerge.
Suddenly, a book contract appears, and then a book.
One day, at the checkout counter in a bookstore,
a woman stands holding a book with a bright blue cover:
At 45, I became an author. It would take many more years
to understand that I am a writer. It is what I do; it is how I
process the world. It would also take the upheaval that came
with losing my spouse to realize I needed the combination of
words and images to say the things I wanted to say.
If I had been particularly astute, I might have learned that
in the fourth grade.