When I was 16-years-old, one of five poems I had sumbitted to a publishing company was selected for inclusion in a quarterly journal. However, there was one small stipulation. My poem would only appear in print as long as I was willing to purchase 5 copies of the journal. Ignoring my father’s comments that the deal was a scam, I took $60 out of my next paycheck from McDonald’s and sent it to the publishing company. Three weeks later, the journals arrived. There, on page 59, was my poem, which I had written for my mother. One poem–16 lines–with my name printed underneath the title “Songbird.” My grandmother stared at the page for just a moment and then looked up at me. Her eyes sparkled excitedly as she squealed, “We have an author in the family!” I looked at my grandmother in surprise. It was just one poem. One poem on half a page of a hundred-page journal and my grandmother called me an AUTHOR. I turned the word over in my head and thought of the way Grandma’s voice had rang with pride. An author–me? Well, it could be a possibility.
I am one of those people who can’t NOT write. Due to a speech impediment, writing has always been the best way for me to get out my emotions when I stumble over my words. I have kept journals for most of my life. My journals are always very detailed. I record everything—where I was, who I was with, what we were wearing, what words were said. Recording the events of a lazy Saturday afternoon usually takes up twenty pages in my journal. I can spend a weekend in Vegas and write a 100 page essay on it! It’s not just about expression. Jounraling is also my way to hold on to the special moments of my life. I want to record and relive the major moments of my existence.
For example, I want to remember in detail the year I lived in England and the days I spent roaming around Europe. I want to especially remember for the rest of my life what it felt like to backpack alone across Malaysia. I want to recall my shocking reaction to the unusual foods. I want to relive the amusement of the kind strangers who mistook me for Princess Diana one day in the town courtyard. I want to remember the night I was attacked by an amorous baby lizard on a moonlit beach. Details, details, details….
This attention to detail served me well when I worked as a reporter for Hullfire, in Hull, England and The Los Alamos Monitor in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Working as a reporter also helped me become more observant. My personal journal writing became even more intense. It was my sister, Theresa, who suggested one day that I publish my journals. I’m not sure if she was joking or not…I chose to take her seriously.
Two years later, my first book, The Sweetness of Life, was published. From all of my adventures, I chose to concentrate on the journey I took wit my mother. Mom and I set a goal to drive through all fifty states in America. We made it to all but four states before I lost my mother to colon cancer. I will always treasure those moments with my mother as we stumbled around America and discovered more than just the states. My mother taught me a lot about life, love, and death…and it’s all in my journals and, now, in my book. Oh, details, details, details…..
And I really hope now that Grandma is saying to some random angel somewhere in heaven, “We have an author in the family!”