By the time I was 12 I knew I wanted to be a writer — a writer of some sort. I hadn’t dug down far enough in my brain to come up with anything more specific. I’d read du Maurier’s Rebecca. At the point in the story when the reader learns about who Rebecca really was, I found I had to reread it several times. Had the author really done that? Had she led the reader down the primrose path just to drop them off a Cornwall cliff? Yes, yes she had. I loved it! I was hooked.
My mother read the women’s magazines, Family Circle and Woman’s Day; they were cheap. Since they were always around I would read them, too. I would read how to lose weight (not successful), how to bake the best meals for a husband (I was 12), and how to look lovely when he came home from work (yeah, right).
But, unlike today, those magazines had short stories. I read several of the stories and they must not have impressed me because I can’t remember anything about them. Nothing, except for the idea that I could write one.
I knew I could write one.
The previous Christmas my parents have given me a portal Royal typewriter, probably thinking it would encourage me toward a secretarial career. Wrong on several levels.
I took the typewriter down to our basement where there were stored cans and Mason jars of food (well, it was 1959 and the Cold War was freezing), an old stand from Pop’s previous barbershop (filled with fishing stuff and Playboy magazines — yeah, I read those, too), a long table, and a couple of rickety chairs. A perfect office for a 12 year old.
So I got some typing paper and started on a story. Do I remember the story after almost 60 years? Nope. Do I have a copy? Nope. Most of my writings along with my 1960s Beatles memorabilia were trashed when my parents moved after my sister was married and I was married with a baby. Really why would I want any of that stuff, anyway?
But I did submit my typed (probably not in the correct format) short story to Family Circle. I was convinced (like most preteens) that I was great, the story was great, and I was on my way to fame and fortune. I waited for the acceptance letter. And I waited and I waited.
Eventually I got an envelope in the mail from Family Circle’s Publishing Company. I was thrilled, until I read the letter inside. RE-jected!
Did I save that letter? Did I stick it up on my bedroom wall with a nail, like Stephen King did? Nope. The letter’s gone with almost everything else from that period in my life. Everything except the feeling that I could be a writer, a real writer.
I kept that feeling through high school, writing short stories and essays and the dreaded “theme” in English classes. I was the Associate Editor on the school newspaper. And then…I ended up in nursing school.
During my nursing school years I continued to write. I even wrote a play about the Russians kidnapping the Beatles for a show in Red Square. I wonder if I telepathically gave them the idea to write “Back in the USSR.” Nothing from that time was ever published but at least I was writing.
A full time job as an RN, marriage, and a baby put my writing on hold. Then there came divorce and trying to go to college while working and taking care of a teenager. Writing was again pushed into the background.
By the time I was 42 I was engaged to a Bethlehem police officer, a big burly guy with a problem — a bad heart. He died waiting for a heart transplant. The first time I saw him in his coffin was when I decided I had to finally do what I really wanted to do with my life — write, even if I had to do it around everything else.
I got up at 5am to write before work. I submitted to literary magazines and poetry magazines. I slowly began to write novel length. Most of my minor successes were with short stories and poetry. I wrote for Easton’s free newspaper, The Irregular, and I did freelance stories for Easton’s daily paper, The Express Times. I just kept writing.
When self-publishing became “the thing” to do, I published a paranormal romance, The Guardian’s Prophecy. I decided that I needed to stretch my writing muscles a bit and try for a different genre. Erotica (erotic and romance together) was becoming popular in small press and indiepublishing. So I wrote an erotic novella that was picked up by a small press. It was not a big seller but I found that I was able to do something different.
I’m still writing.
But the hubris of the 12 year old Mitzi has morphed into the self-doubt of the 71 year old Mitzi. I haven’t submitted anything lately. But I post articles and comments on Medium.com. I like the immediate feedback that gives me.
I’m still writing.
I’m working on a collection of paranormal/horror/whatever short stories and a paranormal humorous mystery series. I also have two women’s fiction novels completed.
I’m still writing.
And it all started with a failure, a rejection letter.