Putting Pen to Paper

PhotoFunia Cover personalWhy write? It’s complicated. I never had any intention of becoming a writer, to externalize my life and expose it on paper. But as life would have it, I had a meltdown as the result of a course I was taking, and out of that emotional quagmire, I wrote a short piece called “Queen Bee.” That’s how all this started nearly fourteen years ago. I had a deep curiosity about my mother, so I rounded up the family, gathered their stories, put pen to paper, and the result of all that became my first book: Passages from Behind These Doors, a Family Memoir.

Every story matters, and if I can find meaning for myself, perhaps I can help others find it. Isn’t that the main task of a storyteller? My writing reflects the best parts of me and it gives shape to my life. It’s good for my soul. It’s also an effective way to get my inner voice to pipe down. Writing is a way to be seen and heard, to have something useful to say, and the courage to say it. I can get on a royal tear about things, and yes, I can be vaingloriously all about me, but it provides me an opportunity to better understand myself, and to present myself on behalf of something larger than me. It allows me to ask the questions I consider worth asking, and perhaps, to answer them. It allows me to clarify my thoughts and ideas, to explore the stuff I wonder about or am afraid of.

I write about my mother, and about her mother. I put in black and white what I know, or think I know. I write about possibilities and perspective. Incidents that crack me up or make me weep spill onto paper. I do wax poetic, but my lines rhyme, which I hear is out of style. I write about what matters to me, about sin and prayer, hope and gratitude, about where I beg to be healed. I write about those I love and those who irritate me, even when they’re one and the same. I chronicle stories of fools, friends, and family. I write to smuggle the stories from my mind into yours.

bookcoverimage Queen Bee, Reflections on Life and Other Rude Awakenings, my second book, is a compilation of short pieces I’ve composed over the years. Some are from my blog, many I’ve posted on Facebook, others I’ve recently written. A few are in memory of those who have passed. There is a chattering of exchanges with my young grandchildren, most snippets, others, chunks of longer conversations. There is a section regarding my ancestors. I’ve spent years disturbing the dead in my family, digging up their stories, poring over their records, studying their photographs. I believe I’ll heal my soul by gathering us together and telling our tales. I write to leave our legacy.

I invite you to careen around with me, reading these stories that live in the back seat of my mind. It’s always lovely to have company. We can hold hands across the pages and share tears in between. We can snort and hoot and holler. And hopefully, by the end, we’ll tell one another it was a great trip. Life, even with its continual barrage of rude awakenings, is always a ride.

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