Friday, November 23, 2012

After the Pumpkin Pie, Then What?


Now that the last morsel of turkey, stuffing or pie has been consumed, and you are finished scrambling to get those Black Friday sales, you might be thinking about how interesting it would be to write about the conversation that erupted at the Thanksgiving table, or the latest gossip about eccentric Aunt Betty or maybe what your brother's crazy kid has gone off and done now. 

In case you got hold of that wish bone, and wished to become a writer, you might like to hear why writers have chosen writing as a career. Thirteen other writers (below) and myself have created a blog hop today. You you can hop around to read about: 
Why I became a writer.

For myself, I couldn’t help being a writer. My life forced me into it.

After responsibilities to others for most of my life, I am finally accomplishing the one thing I wanted to do for me—be a working writer (published). The journey has been a long one, but I have always been a writer at heart. 

As an only child, I probably used my imagination more than most. One of my strongest memories was the weekly visit to the library as a preschooler. To this day I can see the richly painted murals covering the floor to ceiling walls of that library in Queens, New York. While the librarian read the stories and fairy tales pictured on the walls, I got lost in my imagination.

After my fairy tale phase (I read every known fairy tale I could get my hands on, from around the world), I was drawn to mysteries—most heavily weighted toward Edgar Allan Poe, then comics-the darker, scarier ones were best, like Tales from the Crypt. 

Of course there were the weekly radio serials that forced me to visualize the stories (The Green Hornet, Lone Ranger, The Whistler, to name a few). 

I spent my 25 cent allowance on Saturdays mornings to get a bag of popcorn and watch two feature films (and a string of about twenty cartoons). That didn't include the first rate motion pictures I went to every week with my mother.  We would travel into Manhattan to the movie palaces of the day (I was stimulated to imagine scenarios just walking through the opulent lobbies), and I spent hours afterwards playacting what I had seen on the screen.

When I wasn't playing 'cowboys and Indians' with my younger cousins in the woods nearby our homes, I would make up stories on the spot when they begged me to tell them one. 

I went through a lot of emotional angst in my early years which led me to escape into writing in journals, creating poetry, exploring philosophies and the metaphysical—the weirder or more unconventional the better. Thinking at the edges. I always wrote as a way to cope, meditate, pull out and explore deeper ideas. During all that interior work, I hadn't imagined writing any of that stuff down for public consumption.

In the back of my mind I thought I would eventually write children’s books, drawing from the storytelling with my cousins, but then I had a déjà vu incident on a vacation in Mexico that affected me deeply. When I came back from that trip, I had an opportunity to do a free-write for a training I was involved in as an elementary school teacher. What did I write about? You guessed it, the Mexico incident. The idea hooked me.

I knew it was time to find a writing teacher, which I did. It took me years to uncover the whole story, and during that time I learned the craft of writing while continuing on with my main responsibilities.

I find writing to be a joy, a yoga of self discipline offering a great sense of accomplishment, and I like the time exploring my imagination. You have to like the process of working alone until you get it down, and I do, then the time it takes to edit your work. If you are fortunate enough to have a good critique group, you learn to listen to their advice and apply the changes necessary.

Fast forward to today. That novel that took all those years to write will be published by Oak Tree Press. The story, Dance The Dream Awake, is set in present day Yucatan and highlights a past Mayan life that influences my protagonist's current life, her loves and her struggles, amidst murder and intrigue. It will be coming out soon, date yet to be announced

Thankfully, my second book is already half completed. Writing is exciting, cathartic and fulfilling--not to mention frustrating, head banging, and time-consuming, but when each story is finished, very satisfying.


*Thirteen other professional writer friends and myself who have blogs have joined together to post on this same theme, “Why I Became a Writer.” Take a moment to pop on in and read their accounts on what drives them in the pursuit of our favorite obsession, writing. You will find them interesting, inspiring or funny--to suit your taste.   

Did anything you experienced during your Thanksgiving Day holiday or Black Friday shopping spree inspire you to write? I welcome your comments.



John Brantingham and Sunny Frazier: http://johnbrantingham.blogspot.com/
Chris Swinney:  http://clswinney.com
Stephen Brayton: http://stephenbrayton.wordpress.com/
Carole Avila: http://caroleavilablog.wordpress.com/

28 comments:

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Good post, Cora. Enjoyed reading it.

Sharon Clare said...

Cora, wonderful post. I remember fondly the library where I spent much time as a kid. Libraries are still some of my favourite places.

Every time I visit your blog, I think what a lovely background. What a great idea to peek out.

Congratulations on your book!! I love the premise and will look for it when it's out. Wish you many more thankful moments from here in Canada.

John Brantingham said...

I'm bouncing around to all the writers and there is one similarity to all of them. We all just had to write. That makes me so happy somehow!

john M. Daniel said...

I enjoyed this post, Cora, and I look forward to reading Dance the Dream Awake, because I love the Yucatan.

C.L. Swinney said...

Hello Cora, I really liked your post. I like how you gave us small pieces of your life history and how you tied it into your upcoming book, Dance the Dream Awake!!

Carole Avila said...

Hi Cora,
Thank you for sharing lovely details from your childhood. What wonderful memories! I am looking forward to reading Dance the Dream Awake as it sounds like something I've experienced many times over.
~Carole

Cora said...

Thanks for stopping by.

Cora said...

Thanks Sharon. Yes, libraries are special places. Funny, but now I use one of our local ones for our critique group meetings once a week.
I love the background on my site as well--gives me that jungle feeling.

Cora said...

Yeah, right? Writing a good passage is soothing to the soul.

Cora said...

There are so many more places I want to see in the Yucatan, and many I want to revisit.

Cora said...

Thanks for commenting.

Cora said...

I've had deja vu more than once, but this was an unusual circumstance.

Patricia Gligor said...

Cora,
I was a lot like you as a little girl. My imagination ran rampant and, a few times, got me into trouble. I saw mystery everywhere and I often "explored" in places I was forbidden by my parents to go.

marja said...

I think we come from a generation of people who had to use our imaginations or sit around and feel bored. We made our own fun, and you're a good example, Cora. Terrific post, and your book sound fascinating.
Marja McGraw

Melodie Campbell said...

Love that comment: "a yoga of self-discipline" - Perfectly stated! Nice post.

Stephen L. Brayton said...

Telling stories to families. Sometimes, that's how it starts. Pretty cool.

Lesley Diehl said...

We share similar childhood experiences, Saturday cinema, the library, imagining the characters you hear on the radio. In a way I'm glad we didn't get TV until I was in high school. I think lack of that constant visual bombardment helped develop my imagination.

marta chausée said...

Now that was a very intriguing response, Cora. I can't wait to read your book and discover your deja vu experience via your written word.

Eileen Obser said...

Thanks for the wonderful words here, Cora. I grew up in Queens, too (Glendale). See my post on my website www.eileenobser.com re my early library experiences. I wonder if you used the Jamaica (central) Queens library, which I did during my high school years at Dominican Commercial.

Cora said...

Oh my imagination got me into trouble too. Daydreaming in class.

Cora said...

It is true that our generation had to use their imagination but then we should have more creative people if that were the only criteria for becoming a writer. I know a lot of people from that generation that are far from creative.

Cora said...

Thanks, glad you stopped by.

Cora said...

I always admired good oral story tellers. Telling stories to my nephews doesn't qualify. Some of my in-laws are terrific at oral story-telling. I kind of get right to the point and am not good at embellishing when I'm talking.

Cora said...

I agree. Teaching elementary school showed me that the children of today are missing out on that exposure and lack a certain level or creativity for the most part. Who knows, though, if their exposure to all the electronic devices won't aid them in a way we can't imagine yet. I hope so.

Cora said...

Thanks, Marta, I think you would enjoy it if you get to read it.

Kyle Van Sant said...

Oh, your introduction to writing is so much more beautiful than mine. Yours is an organic transition. Congrats on your gift!

Cora said...

I did live in Jamaica area but that was later so it must not have been that branch. I think I already read your blog this morning, one of the first, but you didn't have a post up so I missed it. Glad you stopped by and told me to read it. It was fun to read your early history. Loved the interactions you had with your dad--the bantering. Humor was important to me at that time as well.

Cora said...

Thank you for those kind words. I like your turn of phrase, 'organic transition.'
How did I miss putting your site up on this post? I know I visited your site, but somehow missed getting you listed. I think it was that last scramble to get last minute changes made. So sorry.