Today, Sherri, from A View from My Summerhouse is visiting. I’m so happy to have her guest post on my blog. Without further ado, here she is:
My Writing Journey – The Heat is On!
The desire to write has been with me as long as I can remember. I always enjoyed English at school and I quite fancied myself as a mystery writer when, as a 12 old, I wrote a ‘book’ called ‘The Telephone’. My mum still has it; the cover is blue construction paper with a picture of a telephone on it (what else!) and the pages inside held together with staples. Reading it again recently certainly brought howls of laughter to my mum and I, it was pretty awful!
Still, I was not to be daunted. Life pulled me up pretty darn straight at a young age and by the time I was in my late teens I went through a phase of scribbling down poems of a sort, which I discovered were a wonderful outlet for those times when I was not only very angst-ridden but also when I felt overcome with emotion.
For example, I was once so overcome after watching a documentary on the BBC about newly-hatched baby turtles scurrying desperately to the safety of the sea before being picked off by hungry sea-gulls, that I was compelled to write a poem about it!
Mostly though I wrote about my dad, who was and still is an alcoholic who has gone on to spend the best part of 35 years in and out of prison for alcohol-related crime.
The defining point for me as a writer, however, began long before I ever put pen to paper in a ‘serious’ way. In fact, it began 35 years ago when I met an American GI who had been posted to RAF Woodbridge in Suffolk, England in 1979. We met at a nightclub in Ipswich one summer’s night, he took me back to California to meet his family and we fell in love despite a tumultuous relationship blighted by his drug use.
Then our world collapsed when he was diagnosed with Leukaemia. I gave up everything to be with him, to Las Vegas for a ‘quickie’ wedding, and then back to his home in Los Angeles before he died eleven months later at the age of 21.
Blighted by grief and the loss of not only him but of myself I returned home to England to be with my family and I went on to marry the man who helped me through this bad time but it was the birth of my firstborn son in 1982 and the power of my love for him that saved me.
It was around this time that those writing embers, which had long been smouldering, ignited just enough to create a little heat. I remember bundling my baby into his buggy and going for long walks along the heathland near our house, our dog Bonnie padding happily alongside and as I walked, I began to write the words of my book with an invisible pen in my mind, wanting to tell this story.
The decades flew by; my years as a full time mum to three children were my happiest despite an unhappy marriage, which sadly ended after 22 years. Yet always those embers burned, keeping my words warm and illuminated, protecting them until the day would come when I would be able, at last, to cast them out into the great white space. I had to wait a very long time.
My various attempts to get my writing off the ground were never successful but when adverse events seemed, once again, to conspire against me they actually propelled me into the writing career I had longed for all my life.
June 2011. Firstly, I lost my job. Then the job after that, both due to office closure. At the same time my daughter, who was very ill, was diagnosed with Grave’s Disease (overactive thyroid). She was also diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.
It was a mercy, a blessing in disguise that I lost my jobs looking back on it. My life became consumed with ferrying my daughter back and forth to numerous doctor and hospital appointments, meetings and further assessments, all in an effort to get her medical treatment and help and she needed me.
That year ended as spectacularly as it had begun with two car accidents (not my fault!) and I was unable to type for a long time due to whiplash injuries. I reached a very low point but my husband encouraged me, as soon as I was physically able, to return to my writing course which I had attempted to start well over a year before.
At first I was full of self-doubt (who would be interested in the ramblings of a washed-up 50 something mum?) and it took me a long time to make the move mentally. When I did I had no inkling that within a few months I would be taking a telephone call from the editor of Prima magazine saying that she wanted to publish my short story.
Then, in January of this year, I started my blog and the community I have found here has been phenomenal. That such lovely people actually take the time to read my writing and then comment too never fails to amaze me! This was the final push I needed to start walking along the road of my writing journey which began so many years ago.
Those writing embers never did go out. They were waiting for just the right moment to spark into the flames of writing fire which now rages inside me. I might get burned in the process but you know what they say about that – ‘If you can’t take the heat, then you better get out of the kitchen!’
© Sherri Matthews 2013
On a side note, I made an announcement on my other blog about my novel, Marionette. Hop on over if you’re curious.