I began writing my first novel on a typewriter at the dining room table when I was seven years old. I remember sprinting home from the bus stop after school and throwing myself into a chair, breathless, eager to hear the satisfying click-clack of the keys. That novel was a bit of a cliffhanger, as I still haven’t finished it.
In high school, I experienced my first minor success as a writer. I had a short story published by the school newspaper, and I won a writing contest for an essay that I wrote. It was thrilling seeing my words in print and my name on a byline. During college, the only bylines I saw were on my assignments, but I returned to writing for pleasure after the birth of my children. I was a stay-at-home mother with two children under three years old. I cherished the time with my babies but spending my days changing diapers and cleaning up toys left me longing for an intellectual challenge. So, at night, after I tucked my children into bed, I would tiptoe into our home office, sit at the keyboard and write; I soon found myself looking forward to this quiet time with only my words to keep me company. Thus began my freelance writing career. An introvert by nature, I discovered that I was able to express myself better on the page than in conversation. Writing made me feel alive, and I was excited about all the possibilities that a blank page could hold. I wrote personal essays, slogans, greeting cards, poems and non-fiction articles. I wrote three novels that I never attempted to get published (you’re welcome, world!). I was enjoying myself, but life interfered.
When my daughter turned seven, she became ill; it was as if she caught a virus that would not go away. She complained of stomach pain, lost her appetite, and began to drop weight rapidly. My once rosy-cheeked, adventurous little girl became lethargic and clingy. I took her to visit many doctors. The doctors said things like “she just needs a good multivitamin,” and “kids get sick, she’ll grow out of it.” Her weight and energy levels continued to plummet, and eventually, after countless medical appointments and invasive tests, she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Once we knew what we were dealing with, we were able to treat it, and she began to improve. Just as her health began to stabilize, however, we suffered a family tragedy that left my sixteen-year-old brother in the hospital fighting for his life. Several months later he would leave the hospital, but he would never be the brother that I knew again, and I was devastated.
After years of stress, the fissures in my marriage turned to cracks, and my husband and I divorced. Life became about finding our new normal, and me finding a way to provide for my children. I got a full-time job as an academic administrator, found a home and tried to make the transition as smooth and painless as possible for my children. Sadly, our first post-divorce home flooded, and I ended up in a contentious legal battle with the landlord. Once again, challenging circumstances forced me to focus on survival and regaining stability.
We eventually found a new home, but my daughter's health deteriorated again, and in February of 2016 she had a complicated surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Thanks to an incredible surgeon and that life-saving procedure, she has been growing and gaining weight ever since.
Fast forward a couple of years...I now own my own home, the children are thriving (thankfully!), and I have resumed my freelance writing career. I’ve had two poems published with Blue Mountain Arts, sold numerous non-fiction articles, and edited The Genome Factor. In October of 2017, I signed the contract to have my first children’s book published with Familius. That book is forthcoming in the spring of 2019, and I could not be more excited about it!
I still maintain my day job as an academic administrator, and I continue to pursue my writing whenever time and energy allows. I didn’t know it when I was seven, but I fell in love at that dining room table. Now it’s a keyboard instead of a typewriter, but the click-clack of the keys is still my favorite sound; it still takes my breath away, every time.