Stage 1: She opens a book full of words, reads. Then another, then hundreds of others. Next, alongside, in fact, she opens an empty book, one with a lock and key, and day after day she writes her secret heart out. She will continue these two endeavors for the rest of her life.
Stage 2: She meets her original mentor, Mrs. Grow, who will help her grow into her true destiny. She learns the thrilling joy, like nothing else ever, of seeing her words in print in the Cardinal, West Jr. High’s school newspaper. No “A” on any report card can compare.
Stage 3: She follows her desire, a three chord progression, music-lyric-poetry. More publication, in literary magazines and a brief stop to fall in love. She doesn’t know yet that another love, her first love, the love of words, will win out after all.
Stage 4: She writes everything now: stories, poems, diary entries, book reviews, even (very bad) novels. Some things find publication until another romantic misadventure sends her off-track and into a new world entirely. Still, she holds fast to her pen and paper.
Stage 5: She must teach and in teaching she learns the craft of writing. She writes a book for her students and in writing this book, her only full length non-fiction to see print, she fulfills a long-held dream: to hold her book in her hands. And she blogs, taking her diary public, but keeping a private one as well. The bad novels turn better as she teaches and learns and never ever stops reading. Now in fact she is paid to read and write about what she has read.
Stage 6: She finds a way to fold writing into her life, a summer here, a winter there, a five year sabbatical that led to an agent and — at last! — a few novels that are not terrible. A small publisher offers her a contract and now 7 novels in, she has realized all of her dreams and more. Who, in 1960, could dream up the internet? So as some modes of writing fall away, others replace it. Tweets instead of poems, blog posts instead of book reviews. Life is rich and rewarding if a tiny bit too full … until finally retirement from teaching opens a new door.
Stage 7: I am here. Still writing. And reading. My children are grown, my life is serene, and I sit in winter at my desk, revising my best book yet. The book I am writing is always the best book.