Some Things Never Change And Yet…

Posted: May 15, 2009 in 1

I found a letter I wrote to the editors of The Writer back in 2002. Apparently I was entering a contest. I don’t really remember why I wrote the letter or, for that matter, why I saved it. Maybe I knew I would someday be writing a blog. Who knows? Here it is, followed by an UPDATE:

I am a 51-year old mother of four and grandmother of five. No matter how I view my life, statistics prove that half of it is over. Still I wait to “become” that which I want to “be.”

Over four decades ago I remember nuns, their arms folded under the beaks of their habits, staring down at me. Their eyes and nostrils in perfect alignment, they asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up: a nurse, a teacher, a nun, or a mother?”

My first challenge–a limited occupational pool from which to choose–it didn’t occur to me I could be anything else. As a result, writing didn’t become an option until I grew up. I always loved writing. Like Alice in Wonderland, I peered at my invented (or sometimes real) story worlds through a distorted looking glass and visualized my books lining the shelves in books stores or my imagination being played out on a movie screen. How I longed to belong inside that wonderful creative world on the other side of that looking glass.

When I moved to New York in early 1978, with absolutely no writing credentials, I tried to get on the staff of Saturday Night Live at a time when that television program was at its zenith. “Do you have an agent?” No, I responded. “Have you ever had anything published?” Again, no. “Do you belong to the Guild?”

I refused to give up. I called the Guild. I’d like to belong, I said. “Have you ever had anything published?” Same answer. “Do you have an agent?”

That looking glass must be really thick. Alice’s Wonderland was becoming a Twilight Zone episode.

I called the William Morris Agency. Why not start at the top, I reasoned. “Do you belong to the Guild?” Hmmm. “Have you ever had anything published?” My life thus far had been filled with obstacles and interruptions and I was beginning to get sick of the merry-go-round entrance into the writing world.

I moved back to Chicago. I kept writing and even published my own newsletter. I found a newspaper to publish one of my articles. All the while I believed that someday, despite evidence to the contrary, somebody would recognize my talent – I hoped it wouldn’t be postmortem.

Eventually I published a book through, and I entered a contest with my screenplay. Still the world on the other side of that looking glass evaded me. For every step forward, I took twelve steps backward. My children, for whom I was virtually solely responsible, beckoned me away from the typewriter, from the computer, from the writing world. And when they grew up, grandchildren summoned me as well, because one of those backward steps brought me to the door of my daughter, whose husband disappeared, leaving her alone to raise five children.

Still, I forged ahead. I joined a writer’s group, found a writing partner, and continued to write. Like Sisyphus, I carried my boulder up the mountain and fell down again and again. Despite the incessant struggle, I never gave up.

Ironically, the older I got the less urgent my desire for recognition became. My passions still thrived in my creativity, and, as a bonus, I realized I was surrounded by love.

And then it occurred to me that if I never “made it” as a writer, I would never really know, because even postmortem recognition wouldn’t matter if I were dead.

What matters now is that I love so many people and that so many people love me.

However, I will not give up believing that each step takes me closer to my goal. While I’m still alive, I will continue to carry my boulder and with each step I will flatten that mountain a little more. I will rise to my own zenith solely because I exerted the effort to do so and what will carry me to the top of that mountain and into the other side of that looking glass is the love I have found along each step of the way, love from my children, from my grandchildren, from my family, and from my friends.

I am 51 and I am still alive. And I will get into that writing world if I have to break that damn looking glass with the boulder I’ve been carrying my whole life!

UPDATE: Can you hear me knocking? I’m still on the other side of that looking glass. Now I can’t lift the boulder, but HEY! I won a contest! AND I have five more grandchildren and two great grandchildren.



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