I decided to be a writer before I started kindergarten, so somewhere between the ages of three and five. My father taught me to read, one of the few gifts from him which I still cherish. I had stopped walking just a few months after learning, beginning a hellish year of hospital visits, doctor examinations, and anguish for my mother. At the end of it, my parents believed that I would never walk again. My father thought I should have something to occupy my time. He sat me in front of a newspaper and began the process of giving his three-year-old daughter an alternate life.
Much to everyone’s surprise, I somehow did get back on my feet. But the tide had been turned. I had words, and words would be my constant companion for the next sixty years. Through tears, and trials; as a defense to teasing; when I felt ugly and undesired, I cowered behind notebooks, paperbacks, literature, and volumes of poetry.
In 2008, I started writing a blog called The Saturday Musings. I posted weekly until December 2017, when I put that endeavor on hiatus. I intended to edit a collection of the essays into a book. Occasionally, I spend an hour or two with the ten Word files, each representing a select year of Musings. I have gotten two years edited. I have eight left to review. I think 2020 will be the year. Meanwhile, I have this blog; a blog for the community where I live, Park Delta Bay; and a new website, for the annual open house here, to draw words from my crowded mind.
Once in a while, someone says to me, You could be a real writer. I smile, nod, and turn away. I know what they mean. I could write novels, pitch ideas, get an agent, have my work published by a traditional house, for money. Then I would be “a real writer”. Yeah, I suppose, I usually say, silently though, from behind a frozen mask which reveals nothing except my unwillingness to engage on the subject. It’s possible that someone would like what I’ve written. I admit that some of the Musings strike me as quite deftly crafted. I expect that out of the 500-plus entries, at least a few dozen merit attention. Perhaps only my lack of faith in myself prevents me from zipping the bunch on a flash drive and shipping it to a ruthless editor for critique.
Nonetheless, I feel as though I’m actually a writer. Maybe an outside critic would disagree. Until somebody tells me to stop, I’m going to keep laying down the sentences, occasionally illustrated with an amateur photo or a pithy quote. I hear my grandmother’s voice, over and over, telling me to just keep putting my best foot forward. Since my feet don’t work so well, my hands take over. I lift my wrists, poise my fingers, and bring them down across the keyboard. Despite my mother’s fears I did, eventually, learn to walk. I cannot run, though. My legs never regained their early strength. My illness left me spastic and lame. But when I write, I have no such limitations. On the printed page, I can fly.
It’s the twenty-fourth day of the seventy-third month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.