One day, and I have no distinct memory of when or where this happened, I decided I was going to be a writer. I had already gained a reputation in my family for “making up stories.” One of those “stories’ was actually true — there are foxes in Golden Gate Park (and coyotes by now).
I had told stories from a young age. My earliest recollection of that was when I, between three and four years old, told my father about the kind of house I wanted to live in — one I designed and he built. As I grew up, I spent most of my time alone, in the woods around our house on Paris Hill, in the yard of the house we moved to near Golden Gate Park, in the park itself, making up stories to entertain myself.
During my early teens, I collaborated with friends on stories about our rock and roll idols. At this age, all the stories were about love, adventure and romance. I also had a love of drawing and fashion design so the story telling in my head was accompanied by the process of crafting the clothing my heroines wore. I still create images of my characters, but in my head while I write — the opposite of my teenage penchant for drawing while I thought of stories.
Not until I went to college did I start writing stories, abandoning the collaborative fun of my youth to return to the solitary fun of my childhood.
This is where the bane aspect of writing took hold. I had made my career choice — I wanted to be a writer. The stories I wrote then were “realistic,” full of angst and purpose. And they were published! yay! At the time, small literary magazines abounded.
But. There was no joy in writing. Writing was a drag. The stories I wrote saddened my and soured my attitude toward my world. I persisted in the expectation that writing unhappy reality was the only truly “serious,” worthy writing. The more stories I wrote, the less certain I was that I would ever be a “real” writer.
The happy, unrealistic fun of writing was gone. Left was the sense of failure but I kept writing.
I wasn’t writing angst-ridden or purposeful stories. I wrote novels about people facing personal crises, war, loneliness, abandonment, grief, anxiety, death, rejection, substance abuse, PTSD, despair, poverty, infertility. The chronicle of human misery and suffering goes on, all the makings of serious, important works of literature.
But. I couldn’t leave my people in that condition. The human being is always on the threshold of divinity. To leave my representatives of my fellow humans in dire need was a betrayal of that potential. I found ways to make them happy.
For my people, happiness comes in the form of companionship, love, camaraderie, friendship. I make it happen for my characters in the same way I see people all around me choosing to make it happen for themselves.
I write Romance: in the classical sense and in the modern.
Coming soon: “Writing: The Pleasure & the Bane: II” — Entrepreneurial publishing and the academic.