There was one thing worse in my life than suppressing a passion and that was accepting it only to discover that I was now an oddball.
Even as a child I knew I wanted to write. Sadly, there wasn’t any support for such an odd calling. I was supposed to choose a respectable and financially secure profession. I understand why my parents and community wanted that. Living on mixed farms (livestock, grain and vegetable farming) on the prairies, many parents, like my own, were second generation. Their parents (our grandparents) had emigrated from Eastern European countries which were in states of war, famine and other atrocities. Ingrained in their ideals was the need to make a better life for their children and future generations. Study hard. Graduate high school. Go to university or college and secure a good paying job. That was the mantra.
And I studied hard and went to university BUT I studied English and drama. Strike one. My first job was as a waitress and I still wanted to write. Strike two. Strike three never really came but I remained an enigma.
Despite living in a small university city, I never found the support to write that I needed. The style of writing which interested me wasn’t encouraged. In hindsight, I see that it was the literary style of writing and not genre writing that was being taught. Still feeling the oddball, I set myself on a journey to learn and understand the world and now my resume reads like a hodge-podge of job ads. I did a lot of cool things (and still do) and I’ve had many interesting experiences. Through it all, I never gave it up on my dream.
Then, a miracle happened. I moved to Calgary and this city has a very strong and active writing community. With my first novel in hand, I went to a meeting and said, “I’ve written 100,000 words and I don’t know what to do now.” The ensuing support brought tears to my eyes.
Acceptance. Support. Others who see the world as I do. Others who have the same issues and concerns. We laugh together. We help each other. We get through the tough times together. I am not a freak. I am someone with a cool talent. I can love myself now for what I like to do.
That is the gift and triumph of the writing community – it is acceptance and permission to love not only the craft but myself. The ghosts of the past now stay in the past. I love what I do and I love my writing community which spans continents. This is a phenomenal journey we are on and it is filled with many wonderful people.
There are many moments now that make me love being a writer. Every day I am grateful for my mentors and writing groups, to the wide world web for allowing our scattered community to be cohesive and most of all, I am grateful for all the wonderful people I meet on this journey. I may still be the enigma, the oddball to some, but I don’t care because I now inhabit a world where there are many more like me!