As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How close or far are you from that vision?
No question about it — I wanted to be a writer. I was also good at art, but not as good as I was at writing. In college, enjoying writing really helped when I had to do essays, or long written answers in tests.
My problem is that I haven’t followed through on my ability to write. I said that when I retired I would write a children’s book; I have written several, but none of them are good enough to go on anyone’s shelf. It’s far harder than I thought it would be. One speaker at a conference I went to had published several kids books quite successfully. Still, she said, she got the question “When are you going to write a real novel?” I think that people generally don’t know the kind of effort that goes into a good children’s book. To say there’s a formula would be a mistake — there are several, and then there’s the spark of genius to be able to see normal things in a wondrous way that will appeal to a child.
The best opportunity I had to write was in my twenties when I worked in the public relations department of a large trade association. I was hired as an administrative assistant, but my duties grew because I had a boss who was willing to let me go as far as I could and try new things. I wrote newsletter articles, brochures about the association for the general public, promotional material for our convention and other meetings, minutes of board meetings, speeches, news releases, and biographies of the head honchos. During my 5 years there, we saw a need for a magazine for a segment of our membership, and I was the assistant editor of that. I not only wrote for it, but was responsible for a lot of the physical layout, which I enjoyed immensely. I think the latter is the cause of my obsession about having things like pictures hanging straight on walls. Photos taken on the diagonal upset me. Misalignment drives me crazy. Or reveals my innate craziness…
I did retire. I have not published a children’s book. I’m still working on that. Through this blog with posts every day, I am trying to develop the habit of writing daily and thinking about how I put the words down. I have even gotten some ideas for books from fellow bloggers — maybe just a photo that forms a question in my mind, or something about an exceptional person or event.
I will keep writing whether I publish or not. I have had a few things in the local newspaper and that gives me hope, but news and factual writing are what I do best anyway. I’m thinking that writing creative non-fiction is probably best for me — I’m certainly not a J.K. Rowling; my head can’t imagine the world she has created.