BLAME IT ON ALL THOSE BOOKS!
Since childhood, I’ve been fascinated by the power of words. The discovery that words, strung together in a multitude of ways, could inspire, change and focus one’s thoughts has deeply influenced my life. Once I learned to read at the age of six, I couldn’t get through books fast enough, a habit I still retain seventy years later. I have been a frequent visitor at the library wherever I’ve been living and distinctly remember being taken to the library for the first time at the age of five. When I was in public school, my happiest time was when we were asked to write a story; in high school, these stories became more involved; later on the stories became essays or how-to articles. Still later, some short stories were attempted. You may find a few of these in this collection under ‘Short Stories.’
Upon retirement, I was lucky enough to be able to contribute two chapters to a history book that was a Millennium Project in my county. Then along came a chapter in another book about World War Two. These encouraged me to really challenge myself and see if I could stick to writing something much longer, say, a novel. After all, I had been reading works by other people since I could hold a book. Why not try writing one myself?
For ten years, I let an idea for a murder mystery percolate; then one day I realized that, as I wasn’t getting any younger, I’d better get busy and put my ideas down on paper. As I work better to deadlines, I set myself a completion date that was two years away. During those years, we finally had the time to travel to places we had always wanted to see. I took along a notebook and scribbled down my ideas on flights when others were watching the movie. This was before the advent of the laptop. At home, when attending any meetings of organizations that I belonged to, I jotted down scraps of conversations, idiomatic expressions, anything I thought I might be able to use. Many of those came in useful for my first mystery novel ‘The Trouble with Some People.’
Several years ago, I began to serve as what is known as ‘pulpit supply’ to our small rural church when we were between ministers. As this happened a number of times, and the one church duty was expanded to include two others, it has given me the opportunity to try my hand at writing sermons or meditations, based on whichever Bible selection for the day was indicated in the church lectionary. This has proved to be the most challenging of all, as the idea of ‘preaching’ to people – how they should live, what the Bible tells us we should or should not do etc – was not what I feel qualified to do. I much prefer expanding on the lives of those we meet in the Bible readings and try to uncover what those lives mean to us today. Or to reflect on some of the problems people may be having in this turbulent world of ours and attempt to make them feel better about their lives. You can decide for yourself whether or not I succeeded in the ‘Sermons/Meditations’ section.
Public speaking is another venue for practicing the writing craft. My interest in gardening led to a talk on roses for several horticultural societies. Some of the trips we have taken over the past years proved to be of interest to local organizations in my area. Far flung places which most people will never have the chance to visit, such as Antarctica and China, were fun to talk about and share my experiences, illustrated by slides when I had the chance to take pictures. It would have been so much easier if I had had the benefit of a digital camera, but I found people weren’t bothered by that omission. A piece designed to encourage people to write their memoirs was also successful. Every person has a story to tell; they just need to get busy and get it down before it’s too late.
With the advent of e-books and e-readers, it is difficult to imagine books disappearing altogether, along with the libraries that house them; however, any new development that encourages people, especially the young, to read is all right by me. Not wanting to be left out, I already have an e-reader and can see how handy it could be when I have to sit for hours in the doctor’s office. In my home, however, there will always be books, for they are like old friends to me. Some of them have been read many times and no doubt will be enjoyed again.
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