Updated: Mar 22, 2019
My dad still lives in the house where I spent my teen years. It’s an odd thing to be sleeping in the room where I grew into a young woman, looking at the faded pale blue walls I painted when I was 15—my first ever experience in house-painting. And because my Dad has not advanced technologically, it really is like traveling back in time. He still watches cable television and walks every morning to his mail box to get his daily paper that is printed on actual paper. He has never surfed the internet, watched a streaming video, or sent a text message. It provides the illusion that time has stood still. In spite of the fact that my mother and sister have both since passed away; my nephew joined the Air Force, left the Air Force, and moved to the other side of the country; that I myself have moved to New Jersey and have lived there longer than I ever lived in that house; that I have three children, who until two started college, used to return with me for this annual visit. I am not just visiting my dad here. I am visiting my teen self.
I can feel the differences between then and now. Then I was a skinny, awkward, unsure teen. I had aspirations of being a writer and going to college (not the norm in my family). Beyond that, I had no idea what my future would hold. Now, I am not so skinny, hopefully not as awkward, definitely more confident. And while I am still unsure of what the future holds, I now realize not only do we never know what the future holds, but that it is riddled with detours and turns we cannot foresee. Because here I am again, looking at a turn in the road, an unsure what that turn will hold.
I put my writing career on hold for 15 years. Not intentionally. But I discovered that I did not have the bandwidth in my head for raising three children and writing creative fiction. I poured some creativity into my mothering—at least I like to think I did. But one day, two years ago, I had an idea for a novel and decided to apply myself to it. I tried to write more days than not. I was spotty at first, but once my idea took hold, I wrote more and more. As it got close to completion, I decided to get really serious. I made a Facebook account, a twitter account, and a website to support my efforts. I am querying agents. It’s kind of like buying athletic outfits so you will work out. If I dress the part, will I become the part? Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. A lot of that depends on how much you apply yourself.
I am applying myself.
But like that teenage girl, I have no idea where this road will take me. Will I get published? Will my book go anywhere besides my immediate family and friends? But I have far more faith than that young girl that the road itself is worth traveling. I enjoy the writing. I enjoy the idea that my book might one day be on a shelf in a bookstore. And for now, that is enough to keep me clicking on my keyboard.