Where to Start

I’ve kept a journal of some sort since I began writing—a very long time ago. Although I cannot remember the first story I wrote enough to recreate it, I can recall the time and place of that first effort, as well as the excitement I felt at putting on paper and in words a story of my own creation.

Prior to this event, I had been a story-teller, sometimes aloud to members of my family (often my younger sister) or in my own head—working through the who, what, when, where, why and how of a story in silence. My older brother, weaving fantastical tales of elves, and my mother, telling true adventures of her young adulthood, were also story-tellers.

I do remember that my first written story was about a giant. The paper was that off-white, lined paper used by elementary schools. The time was an evening on a weekend: a tall table lamp illuminated my work and my parents were both watching television while I worked. The place was our living room at the oak drop-leaf table that used to be our kitchen table when we lived in Maine. The table stood in front of the wide living room window that faced the street, one leaf raised on the support. The curtains were drawn.

Ever since, I have rarely needed silence or a total lack of distractions to write. Writing has ever after been a completely absorbing activity.

Though the table, the lamp, that house and all its occupants are now gone from my life, even with eleven novels, three volumes of women’s autobiographies and numerous essays, interviews and short stories published in literary magazines, blogs or broadcast on radio, I continue to feel that initial excitement (and fear) of being a writer.


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