A Year with Myself 8: Discovering My Thing and My True Passion
I have been pretty happy lately. An amazing, out of this world feeling of self-confidence has centered itself in my being. The main reason I am so happy is because I have turned a corner in my life. I am doing something that I am truly passionate about. I know it is the right thing for me, right now. I am not just writing, I am considering myself a writer. This is huge for me! As I embark on this new adventure, I feel excitement and joy. I am overjoyed by the possibilities and endless adventures that this road may lead. I feel a sense of accomplishment and a new belief in myself and my abilities. I am exhilarated, energized and ready to take on the world. I am open to new experiences and I am making the most of the journey as it unfolds.
When I was a young girl of 11 or 12, I read a book by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey called A Woman of Independent Means. I loved that book. I couldn’t tell you the details of the story now, but it’s coming back to me little by little. When I thought about what excited me and interested me most back then, for some reason reading that book came to mind.
I remember holding that book in my hands and turning the pages while rolling around and shifting my position on my bed. I remember the bedspread I had on my bed, it was chenille. It was so soft. I had pillow shams with yellow gingham ruffles. I had matching yellow gingham curtains. I can remember the smell of dust in my room, from the window sill above the head of my bed.
I loved having my bed under the window. I could sit on my bed and look outside as I daydreamed of how my life would be. (I don’t ever remember having serious complications or allergies from the cool air or the dust from the window above my head, but my mother must have warned me about this because I have never allowed my children to have their bed under the window.) Our house was north facing and my bedroom windows faced north. Where I lived we had a robust north wind we called the Santa Ana’s that would hit the front of our house like a slap in the face. It caused lots of dust and leaves to blow on our front porch and at our windows. It made a whistling noise through the windows at night that sounded like howling or crying. (My mother told me never buy a house that faces north, and I didn’t.)
My mom gave me the book A Woman of Independent Means to read, and I loved it. I had no idea then that it was my mother who truly inspired me to be such a woman. Or, that my mother herself was such a woman. I thought to myself back then, “I want a life worth writing about.”
My mother told me lots of things. She gave lots of advice. She told me I could do or be whatever I wanted. She never put restrictions on me. She believed I would learn on my own about the bed being under the windows, as she did about most things. Some things were absolutely not allowed when I was growing up, such as drinking, smoking, and sex. My mom warned me that if I did those things I would get caught and that the truth always comes out . I needed to learn on my own, I guess. She was right, she did find out! I caused so much hurt and pain for my mother, because she wanted the best for me. She wanted me to not experience the hurt and pain. But, I learned on my own.
Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey wrote her novel as a series of letters, correspondence and announcements. Reading that book had a big impact on me in many ways. I knew I wanted to keep a journal. I knew written correspondence was important to me. Remembering details was also important and I fine tuned that ability at a young age. I am not good at remembering specific historical dates or even names of famous people, but I have a recall about who, what, where and when as it applies to my own experience. After all, I remembered the title and author of a book I loved over thirty years ago!
I knew I wanted to have experiences in life that would help me to write my own story, or to write a novel like Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey did, that was based on the experiences of her grandmother’s life.
I committed myself to writing about ten years ago when I turned to it as a solace. I was going through depression and dealing with stress from so many things at a time when I was not working outside the home and was caring for my three small children. I always said I would write a novel, or a screen play, or a book of poetry. I was not ready to go forward with it at the time. I did more research than anything else. I poured my heart and soul out in my journals. But I could not think of sharing them with anyone, unless I read the entries aloud so I could see an immediate reaction.
The desire to be a writer has always been there, as it has popped up and tested the waters many times in my life. At no time has it ever felt as real as it does to me right now. The desire is so strong I feel it burning inside me. It’s taking off on its own. It has a life of its own. I keep doing things that propel me in this direction and they aren’t taking any effort at all. What is different from the many attempts of the past? I can say simply this, “Now, I am ready.”
I downloaded the book that I read as a girl by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey on my Kindle ap. I did not realize that the book had been republished in 1998. I read it in 1979 or 1980 just after it was originally published in 1978. While searching for it on Amazon, I was reminded that it was made into a television mini series starring Sally Field, one of my favorite actresses. I don’t recall seeing the mini series when it was televised.
The coolest thing about rediscovering this book now is that there is an updated preface in the book that Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey wrote in 1998. She was close to my age when her work was first published and she wrote it while raising her two small daughters. She says that “the traditional advice to writers is to ‘write what you know.’ I always amend that to ‘write what you can imagine knowing’.” I feel as though she is speaking directly to me and it is at this moment in my life that I needed to hear these words from the woman who first inspired me to write so long ago.
I never would have said at ten years old that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I am sure I said I wanted to be a mother, that I wanted to travel, be famous, have a big house and a convertible! I wanted lots of things. Looking back, I realize that I did always want to be a writer like Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey.
Writing is my thing!