When I finished writing my first book I read everything I could get my hands on concerning publishing my work. Some of it was very enlightening and some of it was daunting. In fact I swung from ‘Wow, this is great’ to ‘What the hell was I thinking?’ But, because I went into the first endeavor with the plan of leaving something for my children to enjoy when I could no longer write, I was pretty much at the ‘Wow’ stage with everything.
Perhaps it was a selfish idea on my part, but I wanted to give my kids and maybe my siblings, something solid to put on their bookshelves to enjoy, or gather dust, depending on its value. This desire came from the fact that my mom was a brilliant writer. She was witty and had a wicked sense of humor. She told me once that she could have papered her room with rejection notices, but I highly doubt that, because people were always asking her to write things.
She wrote plays for the Mother’s club and banquets where she spoke and coerced my sisters and me to join her. I was often terrified, but listening to people laugh and applaud was intoxicating. When I got to high school she helped me write for stunt shows and even listened to some really terrible Star Trek and Man from U.N.C.L.E fan fiction. She suggested I join the drama club, and write for lit journals, and sing – any chance I got. She encouraged me to audition for the Heart of Illinois Fair (luckily I didn’t make it) and to try out for the primo singing groups at my high school (luckily I did make those). Once, she talked me into trying out for a basement rock band. She didn’t really know the people but had heard someone talk about it at the laundromat. She took me there and dropped me off.
It was a disaster. I couldn’t sing a note in front of the cute teenage guys and had to call my mom to come back. I’m sure there were a few tears in the car on the way home, but mostly I was glad I wouldn’t have to do it again because clearly, I was a failure. But, mom was adamant. She gave me the most important advice of my life. “Linda, it is worth the practice of trying out.” Gee, thanks, mom. I love rejection, my teenage self thought at the time.
As my life moved on I followed my mom’s words and path and went to college as a theater major, but left at the end of term. It too was ‘worth the practice of trying out.’ I got married and had children, became a professional storyteller and got my life-long dream job of working in a library. It was a job I believed I wasn’t qualified for, because of that ‘only one year of college’ thing, but it’s been over 40 years, so I guess it was worth trying out for.
I went back to college at the ancient age of 49, but did it quietly in case I failed. I graduated just before my 60th birthday, so I guess it was worth it.
And as you might guess, I emulated my mom by signing my daughters, T.J. up for sports and talent shows and Amber for academics and public speaking events and performances and drama club and so on and so on. I hope they understood my drive, because really, it is important to try, right?
So, now to the point of this long rambling piece. I finished my first book last year because my friend Natalie encouraged and pushed me. Then, I also published a book of funny car stories for my family. I thought it was a one and done thing, but there were more stories and my children pushed me to write more. My third book, the second in the series, is almost ready to share. I didn’t dedicate the first books because, well, because…I didn’t want to sound like this was serious. But this book, Stories in Sepia is my second real attempt and I just have to say, “It was worth the practice of trying out.”
Thanks, Mom, this is for you. And yes, I intend to keep practicing.