Happy I Love to Write Day!
Before I fully absorbed the fact that LMNOP wasn’t a letter in the alphabet, I longed to write. I wanted to play Scrabble with my mother. I associated “Scrabble” with “scribble,” and so I scribbled all over the board.
“Mommy, is CDBBBA a word? How about DDDDOIHHHI?”
What a patient mother I had! She interrupted her sewing again. “You can’t have three of the same letters in a row,” she explained.
Mother’s love of reading was subjugated to my own for years. During my monthly earache/strep throat episodes, we’d curl up together. “Read more, Mommy!”
She grew hoarse and I finally fell asleep.
She started with the Little Golden Books and didn’t finish until the last page of The Lord of the Rings.
My cousin Glendys was another willing reader. On a recent visit, I pulled down my old copy of Heidi, scribbled on with red Magic Marker. We enjoyed chatting about that wonderful book we’d shared. In the decades since, like Heidi, I learned to love goat cheese. Glendys confessed she hates it, just like Heidi’s boarding school classmates did.
Much of what we learn about writing–the love of words and the knack of transporting someone off the page to another world–comes from reading. My third-grade teacher, Laura Wright, helped me find books I could identify with while continuing to grow as a reader. Laura Ingalls Wilder filled my days: inside, I’d read; outside, my best friend, Christy, and I would play “Little House.” I was usually the teacher in the one-room schoolhouse. (Teaching in my own one-room school is one professional goal I have yet to fulfill.)
Mrs. Wright also encouraged my writing. My first “published” poem, posted on the bulletin board (probably along with several other students’ work) was The Hunter. I knew nothing about hunting–or deer (except wide-eyed Bambi). “Kindness came to him as his finger left the trigger” is the sole quotable line from this poem. Editor’s note: change “as” to “and.”
Living in Virginia destined me to love history. Mrs. Sally Alne had drafted me to write the history play Ghosts! Ghosts! Ghosts! in fifth grade, so George Washington was hardly a stranger. One Sunday when I was twelve, we set off for Pohick Church, one of several churches he frequented.
“Would you like to sit in George Washington’s pew?” asked the usher.
What an honor! We settled into our first president’s box, surrounded like eggs in a very large carton by Episcopalians who knew their way around the prayer book and hymnal. All we could do was huddle low on the floor of our pew as we fumbled through the books, trying not to disturb the worshipers with our helpless giggles.
After the service and a stroll through the graveyard, I had enough material to fuel the historical novel I planned to write on our newly-acquired used typewriter.
Sadly, I didn’t learn to type until ninth grade.
I escaped having teachers who loved to bleed red ink on my writing. (I do regret the gallons of ink I spilled on my French students’ papers. The urge to encourage and the pursuit of perfection don’t mix.) Nothing can compare with the freedom to play with words and discover your own voice.
I thank God that I was in my thirties before I received a harsh critique from someone whose work I admired.
It only set me back a decade or two.
Now I am surrounded by encouragers and honest, helpful critics–fellow authors, critique partners, and editor.
Providentially, I have landed here, reminding myself yet again of my love, despite the battle to write.
Playing with my memories, and not too concerned that someone will miss seeing my tongue, deliberately planted in cheek.
Prayed for–eons ago by grandmothers and mother, and even now by faithful warriors.
Grateful for those who nurtured my love of words.
So thankful that God lets me write for Him.