The last of the sun’s dying rays have just winked out of existence beneath the corn-leaf horizon of the farmer’s field next door. As I stealthily move across the yard, peeking behind every tree trunk and lawn chair with the gusto that only a twelve-year-old can bring to the task, I move closer to my escape into space. Above my head, the stars are just beginning to awaken from their daytime slumber, and they bring with them the promise of my escape.
I hear a hint of my mother’s voice, which causes my body to freeze in place. For several terrified moments, I hold my breath to be sure that nothing I am doing will give away my location. After a few more words drift across the shadow-strewn yard, I heave a silent sigh of relief. Her voice is emanating from the kitchen window, and I am confident that the tree I am nearest to is currently obstructing me from her vision.
Several sly strides bring me at last to my goal. The ladder that leans against the garage is within my grasp, and the old familiar texture of the splintered wood against the skin of my palms brings me a sense of reassurance that few other things could. The straps of my tattered book bag strain against my shoulders as I proceed in a vertical trajectory up the antiquated rungs. All that I need is present and accounted for, and that list is fully present in my mind the entire time I am ascending that ladder.Writing notebook.Flashlight with extra batteries.Three pencils (a writer can never be too careful).Beautiful star-strewn sky.
This is the first page of a 30 page paper I wrote in college (the assignment called for 15). For this assignment, I took on the task of analyzing how I became a writer. I decided to open it with a scene out of my childhood. Looking at it now, I see that I was trying too hard with the language, and were I writing it now, I'd do it differently. Yet, I felt it would be more honest to share this segment as I originally wrote it.
Growing up, I did sneak up to the garage roof to write, because I found the view inspiring. My escapades scared my mother every time, so I had to be covert. I had to seek inspiration. I had to write. I carried a writing notebook with me everywhere, even at school. I was taunted all the time for this, but I couldn't give it up. I loved writing too much to change. I had to be able to write everywhere I went.
Unfortunately, I let the cruel words haunt me. Though I kept writing, I shuddered at the thought of putting my writing out there to be scrutinized. What if people made fun of the writing as much as they'd made fun of me? I lost a lot of time, because I used those insecurities as a shield.
Yet, here I am. I have officially been blogging for one year. I'm hosting my first blogfest. Now that I've realized how great this community is, I often wish I started this blog years ago. I studied writing in college, and I graduated in 2008. Realistically I could have been blogging for a lot longer than I have been, but I was scared. I didn't know what I wanted my blog to look like. Why would anyone want to read my words? I didn't have a clue how to move past my fears.
Sometimes it takes a hard dose of reality to push us forward. And reality hit me hard. My mom died at the age of 47, and I had no choice but to confront my own mortality. The assumption that we have all the time in the world is illusory. We need to grab hold of our dreams and make them happen now. So, after considering matters, I finally decided to start this blog. I didn't know what to say, so I just started writing.
Here's my first blog entry.
So . . . Why Do This?
Here I am, an aspiring writer for the majority of my life. I wrote my first novel when I was 7. It was 120 pages of rambling mess, but it was a beginning. I haven't stopped since, though I have yet to be paid for doing it. Instead I've worked jobs that I don't like, telling myself that I can leave when my writing career takes off. Well, I'm getting tired of waiting for that day, so it's time to light a fire under my seat and really give this thing a shot.
I am also a mother of two boys. One is almost 3, the other is 8 months. The two of them frequently drive me to the brink of insanity. At least I say that until I remember that, as an aspiring writer (of science fiction no less), a great many of us were never quite right in the head to begin with. Anyway, that hardly matters. I love my family to death, and because of that, I feel I need to make this career path work, for them and for my own sanity (or lack thereof).
So, hopefully this blog will give me a chance to keep my writing skills sharp, rant so I don't have to let all my frustration loose on my poor husband (though I'm sure he'll still get some of it), and hold myself accountable for everything that I promise myself that I'll do regarding my writing. After all, when there's a public record, it's harder to lie to yourself.
Since I want to do this in a serious way, I took some time in choosing the title for this blog. As any writer knows, titles mean everything. You have a few short words to persuade a potential reader to take time to hear what you have to say. People value their time and money enough to be cautious about this. As an aspiring writer (meaning my income is meager at best at this point) and frenzied mother, I can understand this. Anyway, I selected the title "Writing Off the Edge" because I often feel like I'm writing myself off the edge with frustration. The creative process is a tricky thing. My stories often don't come out on the page like I wish they would, and it's my job to make them work. Sometimes they refuse. I also like the idea of going outside convention when you can, though I can't say I always do this successfully. Sometimes coloring outside the lines, or writing off the edge of the page, can be frightening, but when it's done well, it can be very rewarding.
Well, that's my spiel. It's the new year, which means I have a resolution to uphold. Time to get back to that story I'm working on. Well, after I feed my kids dinner, anyway.
This first attempt at blogging was hardly poetic or world-changing for those who might have read it, but it changed my world. In writing this, I made a declaration to myself. I declared that I wouldn't deny what I've known for my whole life. I am a writer. Each time I return to this blog, I'm making that declaration all over again.
Thanks to all of you who've joined me on my journey! You've been wonderful.